Tyrone Willingham (1953
- ) was named the head football coach at Notre Dame
University on January 1, 2002
, after seven years as head coach at Stanford University
. Willingham is known for his intelligence and his soft-spoken approach, and is thought of as one of the best coaches in college football
In his seven years as head coach at Stanford, Willingham consistently outperformed expectations, leading his brainy team to three bowl appearances, including the 2000 Rose Bowl, and was undefeated against Stanford's archrival, Cal. Willingham previously coached for the Minnesota Vikings and has served as an assistant coach under both Bill Walsh and Denny Green.
A native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, Willingham followed his hero, former Spartan quarterback Jimmy Raye, to Michigan State University. Despite his small stature, Willingham managed to walk on to the Spartan football and baseball teams, becoming a three-year letter-winner and starting at quarterback his senior year. Willingham was named the football team's most inspirational player in 1976 and was an All-Big Ten selection in baseball in 1977. He graduated with a degree in Physical Education in 1977.