Washington coaching search: Huskies expected to hire Pac-12 coach to replace Kalen DeBoer, per report
The Huskies are moving quickly to name their next coach following Kalen DeBoer’s departure for Alabama. According to multiple reports, the Huskies were also looking into Kansas coach Lance Leipold, but he indicated on Sunday he intends to remain in Lawrence.
A report from the Arizona Daily Star’s Michael Lev indicated Washington is making Fisch a significantly better offer than the one Arizona can provide.
Arizona, coming off a 10-3 season in 2023, had been working to get an extension done for Fisch since the end of the regular season. He stated several times on the record he is happy in Tucson, but he has been linked to several open jobs during this spin of the coaching carousel.
“I think right now we’re just working through semantics to get this deal done,” Fisch said several weeks ago on The Jim Rome Show. “I think we’re very, very close. We want to be done here very soon, and we want to be a part of this program for a long time. I’ve moved a lot in this business to be able to be here today, to become a head coach at a Power Five program, to win 10 games, to be a top-15 team — hopefully a top-10. We’ve got 18 out of 22 returning starters next year.
“I have no interest in going anywhere. I have a lot of interest in seeing if we can get to that CFP. There’s 12 teams in it next year and I would love to have our team be part of it.”
In the Big Ten, Fisch would certainly have more margin for error to make it into the expanded Playoff. And with the transfer portal being what it is now, most of those 18 starters could find their way to Washington if they wanted to.
Fisch has spent the last three seasons with Arizona, during which he has methodically rebuilt the program from the ground up.
The Arizona Fisch inherited had crashed to the ground under Kevin Sumlin. The Wildcats went 0-5 in 2020 and had suffered 12 consecutive losses dating back to the 2019 season. In Fisch’s first season, that losing streak extended to 20 games and the UA went 1-11.
Fisch hit the recruiting trail hard to rebuild the offense. He pulled in transfers from star UTEP receiver Jacob Cowing and Washington State quarterback Jayden de Laura, and he signed high school recruits who have become integral parts of the two-deep early in their careers. Those 2022 signees include quarterback Noah Fifita, running back Jonah Coleman, wideout Tetairoa McMillan, and offensive lineman Jonah Savaiinaea.
Arizona rebounded to go 5-7 in 2022 with a ranked win over UCLA on the road. In 2023, the upward momentum continued. The Wildcats closed out the season with seven consecutive wins and an Alamo Bowl victory over Oklahoma. Fifita took over at quarterback in Week 5 and grew every week. McMillan led the team in receiving while Coleman led the team in rushing.
The Wildcats will move to the Big 12 in 2024 while Washington goes to the Big Ten. Following DeBoer’s departure, a significant chunk of the team has signaled an intention to leave UW. If Washington seals the deal with Fisch, it will be interesting to see who chooses to follow him from Tucson to Seattle and who chooses to stay behind.
With Michael Penix Jr. out of eligibility, and Will Rogers and Austin Mack hitting the portal, there’s obviously a major need at quarterback. But UW has quite a few holes to fill moving forward — both on the roster and in the assistant coaching staff.
Fisch, 47, has held previous roles at UCLA (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, 2017), Michigan (quarterbacks coach/wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator, 2015-16), Miami (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, 2011-12), and Minnesota (offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, 2009). He also has extensive experience coaching in the NFL.