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Husky Coaching Search Fan Survey Results

Looking at which candidates that you the fans are most eager to see as the next head coach for Washington

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 08 CFP National Championship - Michigan vs Washington Photo by Daniel Dunn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I put together a survey for fans after Jimmy Lake was fired with all of the primary candidates floated about in the rumor-sphere. It included a 1-10 ranking on how realistic it was that the given candidate would take the job and how excited they would be if UW made the hire. The idea being that the most likely hires would be at the top of the list with the confluence of those two factors.

The name that came out number one? Kalen DeBoer. The fans nailed it.

Now of course Washington is looking to replace Kalen DeBoer and so we have gone through the same exercise again. Some names have been floated after I’d already put together the list so it’s not a comprehensive list. But I got over 120 responses from some of the names that were first thought of both by the UWDP team and by national writers.

1. Jedd Fisch- Head Coach at Arizona

Realism Score- 6.7, Excitement Score- 7.5; Total Score- 14.2

I’ll admit that before this season I would’ve been extremely disappointed to see Fisch’s name anywhere close to the top of this list. But Husky fans are well aware of how dangerous Arizona ended up being this season. They almost got into the top-ten in the final rankings and their only loss in regulation this season was to Washington by 7 points (they scored a very late touchdown to get there but still).

Fisch has jumped around a lot in his career with 9 different jobs since he got his first start as an offensive coordinator at Minnesota back in 2009. He has some ties to Seattle since he was the quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks in 2010 and his offensive coordinator is Brennan Carroll, son of Pete (we’ll get to him in a moment). His assistants this year also included Jordan Paopao and Johnny Nansen.

The Wildcats had an explosive offense starting in year two under Fisch after he took over perhaps the worst team in power conference football. Their defense rounded into form this season. If hired you would hope he could potentially get some of the west coast talent he has on the roster to transfer with him and replace the myriad holes UW will have. But if Fisch has success he’s always going to have an eye for the NFL and you’d have to keep a watchful eye on when Billy Napier bites the dust at Fisch’s alma mater of Florida.

2. Ryan Grubb- OC/QB Coach at Washington

Realism Score- 7.3, Excitement Score- 5.9; Total Score- 13.2

This one might be a moot point unfortunately as there are already reports that Grubb and JaMarcus Shephard, the two internal candidates with the most juice, are both going to be leaving to join DeBoer at Alabama in their same roles.

The argument for Grubb is that he already was the play caller and so would theoretically be able to keep the offense humming along at a similar level. He might be able to keep some of the key players left on offense (not that there are many of them) from transferring. At the same time, how much trust would be left in Grubb when the guy who he has hitched his career to for 2+ decades has become persona non grata and left everyone on the roster feeling betrayed?

I think if Washington immediately turned to Grubb and offered him the job that he would probably take it and things might turn out okay. But it would still be a big risk given that he has never been a head coach before at any level and the last time that happened resulted in disaster.

3. Lance Leipold- Head Coach at Kansas

Realism Score- 6.4, Excitement Score- 6.1; Total Score- 12.5

There have been plenty of programs to come after Leipold in recent years including Michigan State and home state Wisconsin. He signed a contract extension in the fall of 2022 that pays him about $5 million annually and has a buyout of approximately $6 million which would be more than covered by the $12 million that UW is receiving from Alabama.

The Kansas Jayhawks were right up there for the worst programs in any power conference before Leipold arrived and they won 9 games last year having to play their backup quarterback for most of the season. He won 6 Division III championships at his alma mater of Wisconsin-Whitewater. There’s just slightly more excitement and thought that he is gettable than the next coach on the list from the same state.

4. Chris Klieman- Head Coach at Kansas State

Realism Score- 6.1, Excitement Score- 5.9; Total Score- 12.1

It’s certainly not a given that Klieman would be willing to walk out on Kansas State. His buyout is reportedly in the $6 million range after he signed an eight-year contract extension with the Wildcats last spring. We don’t exactly have a lot of sources here at the UWDP but we do have some third hand connections to Klieman to suggest there’s no way he’s leaving that job anytime soon. He’s making $5.5 million annually so you’d have to pay him something not all that far away from what the most recent offer to DeBoer was to convince him to leave.

Klieman had the luxury of taking over a juggernaut at North Dakota State but kept it afloat. He took Kansas State to a Big 12 championship in 2022 with a win over previously undefeated TCU. If you want someone who has proven they can win both with and without the most talented roster in their division then he’s for you.

5. Pete Carroll- Front Office of Seattle Seahawks

Realism Score- 3.3, Excitement Score- 7.1; Total Score- 10.4

Obviously, Carroll was the head coach of the Seahawks as recently as the day the Huskies were playing for the national title. He was an all-time great college coach at USC then made the playoffs in 10 of 14 years for the Seahawks including a Super Bowl victory. There’s no question that he is the biggest name that Washington could possibly hire.

But there’s a reason the realism score is a 3.3. He’s 72 years old and even though it’s a youthful 72, if you hire Carroll you wouldn’t be expecting him to stick around very long. It takes a lot of freaking work to be a head coach these days in the NIL and transfer portal era and would Carroll be willing to step down a level to do it? I’m skeptical. He’s a fan favorite though with the second highest excitement score of anyone on the list.

6. Justin Wilcox- Head Coach at California

Realism Score- 6.7, Excitement Score- 3.1; Total Score- 9.7

Conversely, Wilcox has the lowest excitement score of anyone on the list. It probably has something to do with the fact that in 7 years he has never put up a winning record in the Pac-12. Cal isn’t an easy job to win at, especially given their pandemic response, but that’s just not nearly good enough. Plus he can’t hire a good offensive coordinator to save his life. But he always gets mentioned when UW needs a coach so here he is.

7. Rhett Lashlee- Head Coach at SMU

Realism Score- 5.5, Excitement Score- 3.9; Total Score- 9.4

Fans aren’t all that more enthusiastic about the idea of Lashlee but he is seen is much less gettable given he has no ties to the west coast. He won the American in SMU’s final season there before heading to the ACC but did so with a booster corps that punched above their weight in the transfer portal. There are certainly worse candidates out there but I understand why folks would be disappointed if he ended up being the name.

8. Matt Campbell- Head Coach at Iowa State

Realism Score- 4.4, Excitement Score- 4.0; Total Score- 8.4

What a difference two years makes. I can remember reading the message board rumors that UW had offered Campbell $7 million per year and there was real traction before the Huskies ultimately hired DeBoer. The thought was that Campbell would end up at USC before they came out of nowhere to poach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma.

Campbell’s star isn’t nearly as bright now after 4-8 and 7-5 seasons. Looking back it’s fair to wonder how much of his success was actually due to Brock Purdy given the way that he has become a star in the NFL. The offense certainly hasn’t recovered since Purdy left and a gambling scandal caused several suspensions this year.

If Campbell ended up being the choice this time around you’d be betting on the fact that it’s just really freaking hard to win at Iowa State and even if he hasn’t had them competing for conference titles the last few years, he still has that program performing well above where they have historically.