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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 5, 2008 at 8:25 AM

Some morning after thoughts

So has it begun to sink in?
The Washington Huskies, fresh off the worst five-year stretch in their history, are taking a chance on a guy who will be among the youngest head coaches in the nation.
And that’s what this is apparently about, finding the guy who could be the next Jeff Tedford or Chris Petersen or Bob Stoops instead of trying to hire the actual thing. This is all about upside.
It’s also about, maybe, hoping to get some of the USC magic to rub off on the Huskies.
It’s interesting to wonder if Steve Sarkisian will run his program similarly to way Pete Carroll has run his at USC’s, which is one of the most open in the country, with often hundreds of fans, media, former players, recruits, watching practice. After the walled-in Tryone Willingham era, I think UW AD Scott Woodward wanted a coach who will be inclusive, especially at a time when so much fundraising needs to be done. We don’t know for sure how Sarkisian will run things, but so far, that’s almost all he knows is the Carroll way, having worked there for all but one year since 2001.
I see a lot of mixed reaction, and there’s no doubt this feels a little like a gamble. But I think this is all about upside, the Huskies hoping they can find the next great coach.
I remember on the day Willingham was let go, talking to a prominent booster who asked me “how do you know for sure what you’re getting in a coach?” He pointed to Tedford, who’d never been a head coach until hired by Cal and within months was reegaded as one of the rising stars in the business.
The Huskies could have gone for a more proven coach — Pat Hill would definitely have taken the job and then UW could have pointed to his track record as a reason for some confidence that it will work out. But the Huskies instead decided to take a chance, hoping for the next big thing.
What we know for sure is that this hire will define Woodward’s tenure, as all head football coaching hires do for all coaches. Todd Turner couldn’t escape the disaster that was Willingham. Barbara Hedges will always be linked with Rick Neuheisel.
This was Woodward’s first major decision, and he chose the path less traveled.
It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
As for a few other things, no I don’t think Leach or Hill were offered the job and turned it down. Hill would definitely take it, and I think UW had some wariness about Leach and didn’t offer him right away.
There is also this story today that Leach pulled out because he is getting heavy interest from Auburn and may be more intrigued by that job. That’s probably why Leach hasn’t released a statement yet saying he’s staying at Texas Tech.
Also, some of you have asked about a possible staff for Sarkisian,
A lot of speculation in LA is that John Morton could come aboard as offensive coordinator — here is his bio. Other than that, there could be a USC assistant or two who makes the trip north (here’s a list of USC coaches). But there aren’t any USC coaches with ties to UW. As for current Husky assistants, there has been a lot of speculation about Steve Gervais staying on. It is common for one or two to be held over, so it would be no surprise it that happens here.
As for some more reaction:
— Here’s my story from today.
— Times columnist Steve Kelley says Sarkisian’s fiery style could be exactly what UW needs after the sleepy Willingham era.
— ESPN’s Ted Miller agrees that this is all about upside.
— The LA Times’ USC blog breaks down the Pete Carroll family tree and also has some other thoughts.
— Here’s a story from the LA Times with speculation that Sarkisian will stay with the Trojans through the bowl season (though surely trying to do some UW stuff at the same time, as well).
— Sarkisian filled in for Carroll at a pep rally on campus last night so Carroll could go hobnob with Britney Spears. That probably won’t happen in Seattle.
Hill and Fresno State are moving on.
I’m off to Berkeley for the last game of the Willingham era, so all for now.

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