There was a twinge of anxiety going around Husky nation this afternoon when CBS’s Dennis Dodd called Kalen DeBoer “a name to watch” in Nebraska’s ongoing coaching search. That lasted for only a few hours as Washington announced that Kalen DeBoer has signed a contract extension to keep him at the helm of the football team through the 2028 season.
DeBoer was hired a year ago next week, shortly after the Huskies concluded a disappointing 4-8 campaign with a blowout loss in the Apple Cup. Now Washington is 12th in the AP Poll and if they can pull off a win in this year’s Apple Cup will achieve a double digit win regular season.
When DeBoer signed on from Fresno State last offseason it was a 5-year deal carrying him through January of 2027 at an average annual compensation of $3.1 million. With this extension he has had an extra 2 years tacked on so that it runs through the end of the 2028 season. The Seattle Times’ Mike Vorel is reporting that DeBoer is getting a $1 million raise off the bat and an escalating $100k each subsequent year of his deal. He also receives an additional bonus if he is the head coach at the end of each 2-year period starting in 2024.
The Huskies absolutely could not afford to let DeBoer use Washington as a stepping stone to another job after a successful 1st year (and it will be that even if Saturday goes poorly in Pullman). There’s no indication that DeBoer has had second thoughts in any way (his daughter Alexis recently signed her LOI to attend Washington on a softball scholarship) but this is the business. DeBoer’s agent had leverage and having him name dropped as a candidate for an open job in the very rich Big Ten is enough to necessitate Washington giving an extension even if they were hesitant to do so.
Jen Cohen is clearly hoping this move turns out to work out much better than the last time she gave out an early extension to a coach seeing success in a major revenue sport with Mike Hopkins. There are many differences between their situations, chief among them that DeBoer has spent many years as a head coach in his career versus Hopkins serving only as a lead assistant prior to being hired in that capacity by Washington.
Getting this extension done early squashes any further speculation for the moment about DeBoer going elsewhere. But last year’s chaos in the coaching carousel should be a reminder that with the insane dollar values thrown around in college football these days, anyone can be poached (ask Oregon, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame). Still, the LSU’s, Miami’s, and USC’s of the world don’t appear to be looking for a new hire this cycle and so it’s seems safe to say that DeBoer will be around in Seattle for a while longer. And as long as he puts up seasons like this one, Washington will be willing to have him name his price to stick around.