The time all Husky football fans have been waiting for starts on Monday morning when Steve Sarkisian and his staff is allowed to hit the recruiting trail once again. News will be coming at us fast and furious over the next two weeks as recruits verbal and take their official visits to Washington.
Fireworks should start early this week as Sarkisian should make some announcements regarding his coaching staff. So far only three coaches have been officially named so expect at least a couple more to be added officially early this week. Sarkisian hasn't had a press conference or briefing since before the 20th so expect him to get that out of the way before he gets on the next plane to recruit.
The one rumor floating around this weekend was supplied by Molly Yanity of the Seattle PI. She said she had heard from a very good source that USC DC Nick Holt was in negotiations this weekend to become the Husky DC. That was refuted almost immediately by Scott Wolf of the LA Dailey News who interviewed Holt. He said the discussion of moving to Washington hasn't been raised since early December when he turned the opportunity down.
Holt makes in the neighborhood of around $600-$700 per year at USC. Steve Sarkisian who was the offensive coordinator made close to $750 per year. No way was Holt going to come to Seattle for less money than he was making at USC. Whoever Washington does hire will make between $300-$375 per year which is still great coin in the college coaching ranks.
I am not saying the issue is dead because nothing is really dead until they name a new DC but they would have to open up the checkbook big time to pry Holt away from USC.
Steve Sarkisian was interviewed by the LA Times upon his exit from USC.
Now Sarkisian moves to Washington, winless this season. Huskies fans, as rabid as they come, expect a miracle turnaround and pray for the second coming of Don James. In all the losing, patience is one thing they've lost.
"I've turned down jobs because I didn't feel they were right," he noted. "This one, I wouldn't have taken it if I didn't think we could turn it around . . . and we will."
The great thing about Sarkisian is he has a solid plan to turn the program around which is one thing that Tyrone Willingham did not have. Observers of UW football the last four years quickly felt that all Willingham was doing was drawing a paycheck.
Willingham made the mistake of thinking the program was fine and he could afford to blow off his first season. That miscalculation brought in two of the poorest recruiting classes in Washington history minus Jake Locker which sealed his eventual doom. You have to seriously wonder exactly how much film he watched of his existing personnel once he took over.
Willingham spent an average of only seven days per year traveling on the road to recruit players. He preferred his assistants to do the heavy lifting and bring the players directly to him before his throne in Montlake. Not exactly a great example to set since assistants tend to follow the example of their leader.
Sarkisian on the other hand is approaching the job with a lot more urgency. He knows he has to recruit to turn this thing around and if he follows the Carroll template he and his coaches are going to be regulars at every major high high school and junior college in the West coast between now and next February. By next February I am saying February of 2010.
When Carroll took over at USC he used to bet his assistant coaches on how many high schools they could visit in a day and he was one of the coaches doing the visiting. Carroll didn't take the built in recruiting advantage of being in Southern California for granted. He went out and outworked every other coach in the Pac 10 when it came to recruiting to put up a proverbial fence around Southern California and it worked.
That type of hard work and enthusiasm also allowed him to pull in recruits from all over the nation. One of those recruits was O'Dea High School's Taylor Mays. You might remember Mays from the Rose Bowl as a 6'3 235 pound Safety who just may be the best to play the position in the Pac 10 since Ronnie Lott and Kenny Easley.
Mays like Locker was one of those once in a decade type players who rarely come out of the Seattle area. If Locker was important to the future of the Washington offense Mays was just as important a get to build the defense around. Mays father and uncle both played football under Don James and he was considered pretty much a lock to go Washington.
Mays simply stated that while the pull to go to Washington was strong the opportunity to play for Carroll and USC proved to be stronger because he liked Carroll's enthusiasm and the way he ran his practices. He didn't dislike Willingham but said his personality was a better match with Pete Carroll's.
Insiders tell a little different story. They say that Willingham didn't recruit him and Bellevue's Steve Schilling very hard because he figured they were in the bag. Willingham's attitude was they needed to come to him and that didn't happen as both players were turned off by the lack of effort and Willingham's personality.
Under Steve Sarkisian those days are now officially over. He won't turn things around overnight, no coach will succeed in doing that, but expect a top 15 recruiting class in 2010 and a few surprises to salvage the 2009 recruiting class. Expect Sarkisian and his staff to be among the hardest workers in the nation and at Washington and any school that is what it takes to win.
We all remember the story of Don James moving into his office early during his first Rose Bowl season to turn around a terrible start that included losses to Minnesota and Syracuse. You can expect the same type of work ethic from Sarkisian because he simply gets it. He didn't take the Washington job for the paycheck. He took the job because he believes he can turn it around quickly and restore the program to its past glory.
Once again it all starts in earnest this week so get excited Husky fans because news is going to be flying out of Montlake at a furious pace starting tomorrow morning.
Real Washington Husky football is on its way back!