With Steve Sarkisian gone to USC, the discussion now turns to who the Huskies might hire to replace him as head coach. Here are a few possibilities.
Name: Jim Mora
Position: Head coach, UCLA (second season)
Background: Played at UW as a walk-on defensive back, then served there as a graduate assistant for one season before moving on to an NFL coaching career that included head jobs in Atlanta and Seattle. Hired by UCLA after Rick Neuheisel was fired following 2011 season.
Why the interest?: Mora spoke openly on a Seattle radio station while he was still coaching the Falcons about how badly he would want the UW job if it ever came open, though he’s said since that his effusiveness was simply a joke. But he has a friendly relationship with UW athletic director Scott Woodward, evidenced by the time he spent using UW’s facilities to rehab a skiing injury a few years back. Seattle ties are obvious. Good recruiter who has found early success at UCLA.
Why not?: If Mora has any loyalty to UCLA, it would be difficult to walk away after just two seasons on the job. And with a rejuvenated fanbase, strong recruiting efforts so far and a talented group of players returning, he has to like what he’s building down there.
Name: Chris Petersen
Position: Head coach, BoiseState (eighth season)
Background: Has been at BoiseState in some capacity since 2001, when he began as offensive coordinator. Prior to that, coached receivers at Oregon from 1995-2000. Beloved in Boise, and it’s easy to see why – Broncos are 92-12 with Petersen as head coach.
Why the interest?: Proven head coach with impressive win-loss record, and a highly-regarded recruiter who has made stars of less-heralded prospects. Huskies fans are plenty familiar with his name, and if hired, most would likely view it as a coup, considering how frequently his name comes up in connection with quality jobs.
Why not?: Petersen has had chances to leave before, but seems happy in Boise. Reports had him as one of the top candidates for the USC job, but he apparently withdrew from consideration. Hard to say if he’d have any more interest in UW than he did in USC, though the Seattle area offers more in the way of small-town living than does Los Angeles. And the Huskies might want someone who has coached at a BCS-conference school.
Name: Justin Wilcox
Position: Defensive coordinator, Washington (second season)
Background: Defensive coordinator for last two seasons under Sarkisian, and served in the same position under Petersen at BoiseState from 2006-09 before taking the DC job at Tennessee, where he coached in 2010 and 2011. Played defensive back at Oregon in the late 1990s.
Why the interest?: This would be a move with stability in mind. Wilcox obviously is plenty familiar with UW’s personnel, having coordinated the defense for the past two seasons, and is thought to be one of the more coveted assistants in the country. He took an awful defense and turned it into something respectable, and his recruiting efforts have been lauded as well.
Why not?: Reports have already surfaced the Sarkisian wants to take Wilcox with him to USC, though one would think that if UW came calling about a head coaching job, Wilcox wouldn’t be able to say no. And again, the Huskies might want to pursue someone with head coaching experience, or someone with a more recognizable name, nationally.