William Inge would probably gladly welcome a University of Washington football move to the Big Ten. He knows the conference intimately well, better than anyone on the coaching staff.
Inge spent seven seasons at Indiana, five as the Hoosiers linebackers coach, where he met Kalen DeBoer, who coaxed the veteran coach to join him at Fresno State and then at the UW.
Oh yeah, and don't mention this one too loudly to the Husky fan base, but Inge played for Iowa and was one of the guys responsible for possibly the most tepid UW bowl game performance ever. In 1995, he shared in the Hawkeyes' punishing 38-18 Sun Bowl rout of a Jim Lambright-coached outfit that was hardly that close.
Iowa led 21-0 at halftime and 31-6 through three quarters as the Huskies mailed it in. Inge was all over the field on that December day 27 years ago.
On the morning following the game, my now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer published a photo of him, then known as Bill Ennis-Inge, wearing No. 9 and starting at defensive end, and an Iowa teammate forcefully sacking UW quarterback Brock Huard to end the third quarter.
A Missouri native, Inge played for Iowa from 1993 to '96 and served as a team co-captain as a senior and was named All-Big Ten honorable mention.
In Seattle, he's been entrusted with restoring some bite to the Husky defense as an assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He brings admirable credentials, leading his Fresno State teams to No. 20 and 31 national rankings in total defense the past two seasons. He's set a tone for greater responsibility.
"They want to be great and they want to be coached," Inge said of his inherited UW linebackers. "They love the passion we have on a play-to-play basis. They do their job from a preparation standpoint and, as a coach, that's all we can ask for."
He takes on a UW coordinator job that sort of fell to the wayside over the past 24 months.
First Pete Kwiatkowski left to run the Texas defense and former UW coach Jimmy Lake next had trouble finding a replacement and actually had to talk a reluctant linebackers coach Bob Gregory into filling the role.
Past his prime, Gregory was a good soldier, later becoming the interim coach when Lake got fired in-season, but his Husky defense regularly got tuned up and permitted 193 rushing yards per game. Gregory is now a quality coach at Oregon. Again, he's seen his better days.
In watching him in action in spring practice, he's an interesting mix of coaching toughness and playfulness. He's the guy most likely to lose his temper in practice to make a point, though defensive-line coach Inoke Breckterfield would be a close second, but he can turn around and have his guys laughing in the next moment.
For coaching style, think Jim Lambright, a tough-guy Husky defensive end, Don Jame's defensive coordinator legend and later the UW head coach. He was both a man with a hard-boiled edge mixed with a genuine passion for his players.
Similar to Lambright, Inge is building a recruiting reputation, as documented by SportsPac12, which ranks him fifth in the conference using some sort of custom formula.
Note that this top five listing consists of four coaches who have spent time with the Huskies, among them USC defensive-backs coach Donte Williams (UW, 2011-12, grad assistant), Oregon co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Junior Adams (UW, 2019-21, receivers coach), and Oregon defensive-backs coach Demetrice Martin (UW DB coach, 2009-11).
As college football realigns, and the Big Ten remains a possible landing spot for the UW, Oregon and others, the Huskies would fit right in with all of its conference connections.
Besides Inge, DeBoer spent a season at Indiana (2019) as the Hoosiers offensive coordinator; tight-ends coach Nick Sheridan played quarterback and started four games for Michigan (2006-08) and served as the Indiana offensive coordinator, tight ends and quarterback coach (2017-21); wide-receivers coach JaMarcus Shephard coached five seasons at Purdue (2016-21), working as co-offensive coordinator and wide-receivers coach; and Breckterfield coached the longest of any of his stops at Wisconsin as the defensive-line coach (2015-20).
Potential UW starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr., of course, transferred in from Indiana, where he was a second-team All-Big Ten selection.
While the idea of joining the Big Ten might be a shock to UW fans, Inge and his have been there, done that.
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