Personally, I am saddened by this. I feel that Sark was the right man for the job at UW. I felt that he would win the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against BYU (guessing) and that the program would take another step next season to be among the Pac-12 elite. He took the program from literally nothing, and turned it into a very respectable team that was on the upswing.
Am I surprised by this news? No. He is a California guy. USC was going to push for him hard. He has had success there under Pete Carroll. He did a lot of learning at UW. I don't think there was a better hire for the Trojans, at all.
Washington will lose recruits. Would have happened anyways. Washington will gain recruits. Would have happened anyways. That is the nature of recruiting.
Washington is a very desirable job, thanks to Sark. Brand new facilities. Brand new stadium. Talent, talent, talent. Young talent, at that. Tradition of winning. Money. Can we get Mora? Mora and Wilcox are my top two choices, once we get past the probability of Don James protege Nick Saban. There is always Lane Kiffin. I kid, I kid.
Sad day for Husky fans, at least that is what I think.
Thoughts on Sark:
I think this sucks. For those that wanted Sark gone, or thought was just mediocre. I say let's see what he does at USC.
What really sucks though is he and staff were really building a good foundation. We may now hire the right guy, but we probably take a step back first. I was ready for longevity and continuity that was been missing for UW since the Dawgfather left. Now its "get on board with another coach, another culture, another game day. I wasnt ready for that.
Who is on my list.
Mora - Although I think chances are slim
Wilcox - for some continuity
Franklin - Seems like a hot name
Nussmeier - great OC, great name now with SEC experience as well as NFL.
McElwain - turned CSU around overnight. Big time experience at Alabama
For all the chatter around Husky football over the last couple of decades with rumors of coaches interviewing here and there, this is actually the first time a Husky coach has voluntarily left for another job since Darrell Royal bolted after one season to take the Texas job back in 1956. We've watched other fanbases go through this, and now we get to live it ourselves. It's going to be chaotic over the next 2-3 months as the coaching carousel heats up. All kinds of rumors right now, but take them with a grain of salt - things can change quickly. But until Woodward announces a new hire, it's going to be tense for Husky fans.
I have no doubts that Sark will try to take as much of the current staff with him as he can - certainly the defensive staff. The big question is whether Justin Wilcox is offered the head coaching job - if so, he'll take it and Peter Sirmon will stick around with him. Then the question will be what do guys like Tosh Lupoi and Keith Heyward do? The UW won't win a bidding war with USC, but they can come close enough to make the decision hard, and other factors could come into play.
Don't freak out too much about instant reactions on Twitter from current players and recruits. You're seeing emotional gut reactions, but when the dust settles most guys will stick with their current preferences.
As for candidates, I suspect Mora will be a target. I would guess Tim DeRuyter and Doug Nussmeier will get looks too. Gun to my head, I'd say Woodward promotes Wilcox, but maybe he's got a bigger fish on the line. I have serious doubts Chris Petersen would take the job, but his name will get thrown around regardless.
In the end, I hope the results of this new hire end up bringing more unity to a still-divided Husky fan base. For my part, I give my thanks to Sark for the job he did in bringing UW football out of the depths it was in and making us relevant again. He didn't get us back to where we ultimately want to be, but we're on the path to get there, and the new coach will inherit a much better situation than Sark did.
Initially, when I heard about the departure of Sark, I had several emotions hit me at once ... I was surprised, upset, offended ... I think you get the point. Anyways, the longer I've stewed this one over, the more optimistic I get.
First of all, now the usual "fire Sark" sections of the fan base need to find something else to talk about. That means I don't need to take an aspirin for the time being.
Second, I love where the state of the program currently sits where talent is concerned. Across the board the Huskies are talented. They are big, they are fast, and they are talented. As of right now there is legitimate debate as to whether another coach could have done more with much of the same. However, what cannot be denied is that there is a ton of talent in the coffers.
Finally, I decided that it's time to take a ride. Hey, whether you liked it or hated it, you can't change it. Now we get to sit back and see what the future holds. There are plenty of options out there, some great and some not so great ... however, come what may, there are going to be changes, and now we get to see the next phase of this rebuilding project that Scott Woodward has inherited. I can't wait to see what happens next.
I was never a member of the "Fire Sark" crowd, and have long thought him to be a budding head coach with greatness in his future. So you can count me as among those who are disheartened by his departure today.
What really worries me about today's developments is the way that Sark apparently has a large chunk of the coaching staff set to jump ship with him. It's one thing to lose your head coach, but losing your head coach, defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and ace recruiter is another beast entirely.
At the moment, the Washington program stands on a knife's edge: They haven't broken through to the conference's elite, but they've recruited the kind of players who are capable of doing so. With the right coaching staff in place, there's no reason that Sark's exodus to Los Angeles has to be hugely disruptive to the team's direction. Make no mistake: 2013 ain't 2008, and Steve Sarkisian being lured to one of college football's most storied programs is not the same as the Paint Dry Ty Debacle.
I'll close by bringing up a point that I think is commonly overlooked in these situations: It's not necessarily a bad thing to find your team in this kind of a situation. Having another program poach your head coach means that he's been doing something right. And with Washington's current roster, facilities and buzz about the program, there's no reason that UW shouldn't be considered one of the nation's elite job openings this year.
The flipping of Steve Sarkisian from Montlake to Troy is a shocking and unfamiliar development for Husky fans. When was the last time a UW coach (or an assistant for that matter) was a targeted and recruited-away commodity who was coveted by other college football programs? It hasn't happened at the head coaching level in a very long time and, thus, it is an unusual situation for all of us to be in.
I'm disappointed that Sark won't see what he has built through. Not so much because of Sark himself. While I find him to be innovative, fresh and well-grounded, I don't think he is irreplaceable. But he had built a good staff, a solid recruiting pipeline and a system that was starting to bear fruit. The prospect of having to rebuild parts or all of this is not something that I relish having to observe.
It would be disingenuous for me to not point out my disappointment in Sark's character. It isn't that he or his family owe us anything. However, he made his comments about having the longevity the likes of Don James of his own accord. In doing so, he enlisted a lot of support from Husky fans who are all aching for that kind of void to be filled. In hindsight, it looks like blatant appeasement and dishonesty intended to ease the fire that was heating up under his Aeron chair.
Regardless, I enter this period with some enthusiasm. For the firs time in a long time, UW is a destination job. We have the facilities, we have the latent talent and we have the funds to attract some great candidates. I share the sentiment expressed here that this will be a significant test for Scott Woodward as he gets a free do-over on his football coaching hire - most likely the last one that he's going to be allowed to make.
As Robert Redford (almost) said in The Natural, "Go pick me out a winner, Scotty."