March 10, 2011
San Francisco -- Tyrone Willingham, who served as head coach at three of America's most prestigious universities, has been elected to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Board of Directors.
The announcement was made by the game's Executive Director and co-founder, Gary Cavalli. "Tyrone Willingham is one of the most respected names in college football," Cavalli said. "He epitomizes class, character, and the highest level of coaching achievement. Tyrone's involvement with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will strengthen our conference and team relationships and help us continue to grow the game."
Willingham served as the head football coach at Stanford University, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Washington. In 2008 he was elected President of the American Football Coaches Association, and in 2000 he became the first African-American head football coach to take a team (Stanford) to the Rose Bowl. During his coaching career, Willingham's teams played in six bowl games.
He retired from the coaching profession after the 2008 season, relocating back to the Bay Area in the process.
Willingham's first West Coast coaching experience came as running backs coach at Stanford under Dennis Green from 1989-91. He followed Green to the NFL Minnesota Vikings [1992-94] before returning to the Farm and replacing legendary college and professional mentor Bill Walsh as Stanford head coach.
In seven years in Palo Alto, Willingham led Stanford to four bowl appearances and an overall 44-36-1 record. Included was Stanford's first Rose Bowl appearance in 28 years, the 2000 contest versus Wisconsin. He was twice named Pacific-10 Coach of the Year [1995, 1999].
Following Stanford's 9-3 season in 2001, Willingham had become one of college coaching's hottest properties.
He took the Notre Dame reins in 2002 and became the first black head coach in South Bend and the first head coach in Fighting Irish history to win 10 games in his initial season. The Irish won their first eight games, finished 10-2, and played in the 2003 Gator Bowl.
Willingham was voted National Coach of the Year by ESPN/Home Depot, Scripps College, the Black Coaches Association, and the Maxwell Football Club. He also made history when he became the first college football coach to earn The Sporting News' Sportsman of the Year award in 2002.
In his three Notre Dame seasons, Willingham finished an overall 21-15.
In 2005, Willingham undertook a massive rebuilding effort at Washington. On-field success was limited, but his teams made strides toward improving the stability and discipline of the Husky program, consistently ranking among the Pacific-10 leaders in graduation rates and APR performance.
A Jacksonville, NC native, Willingham was a walk-on in both football and baseball at Michigan State. He earned three letters in each sport and won the Big Ten Medal of Honor as one of the league's 10 outstanding student-athletes in 1977. He coached at Central Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State and Rice en route to Stanford in 1989.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is played annually at AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco. The upcoming contest will be the 10th in succession, dating back to 2002. The Bowl will have the sixth selection among bowl-eligible Pacific-12 squads, matched against Army, provided the Cadets are also bowl-eligible.