Heaps: 4 names UW Huskies should consider hiring as head coach
The Jimmy Lake era came to an end on Sunday when the UW Huskies head coach was fired after just 14 games leading the football program.
Lake, who had been with the program since 2014, succeeded Chris Petersen, who retired after the 2019 season.
Lake led UW to a 3-1 record and Pac-12 North title in a shortened 2020 season, but the Huskies have gone just 4-6, including a game he was suspended for last Saturday, in 2021. That one-game suspension came after a sideline altercation with a player during the Huskies’ loss to Oregon two weeks ago.
Former NFL and UW Huskies quarterback Brock Huard offered three names Monday morning on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Mike Salk Show that he thinks the university should consider hiring. Later on Monday, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps offered his thoughts on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy.
“Brock Huard mentioned Dave Aranda (from Baylor), who I think is going to be probably the hot name in college football,” Heaps said.
Huard said Aranda is his No. 1 pick to take over the program, but Heaps doesn’t think that will happen.
“I just don’t see Aranda being a guy that would be interested in coming to UW. Nothing against UW, but LSU is going to be interested in him and USC is going to be very interested in him,” he said. “I think that those two programs are a bigger draw than than the University of Washington. I also believe that when it comes down to it, LSU would be willing to pay bigger money for him.”
So who should UW consider? Heaps had four names to keep an eye on.
BYU’s Kalani Sitake
Heaps, who started his collegiate career at BYU, doesn’t want to see Kalani Sitake leave Provo, but he thinks that it would be a great pairing if Sitake were to come to Seattle to coach the Huskies.
“Kalani Sitake from BYU has a ton of history in the Pac-12,” Heaps said. “His recruiting ties are huge in the Pac-12. The Polynesian connection is huge, and to be able to tap into that in a bigger way on the West Coast I think would be extremely positive for him.”
Sitake played at BYU and has Pac-12 coaching experience from his time at Utah and at Oregon State. At BYU, which is his first head coaching job, Sitake has led the Cougars to a 46-28 record.
“He’s a proven coach who brings a ton of energy and enthusiasm,” Heaps said. “I think he would be a great one here.”
Cal’s Justin Wilcox
Huard also brought up the possibility of Cal head coach Justin Wilcox coming back to Washington, where he was a defensive coordinator under Steve Sarkisian. Heaps thinks it also would make sense for both sides.
“Justin Wilcox is a name that keeps getting floated around. I don’t think it’s very inspiring, but I understand why Justin Wilcox, in a difficult situation down at Cal, could succeed better at UW,” Heaps said. “He would have to have a great plan as to who his offensive coordinator would be.”
Part of why Wilcox could be hired? Petersen is on athletic director Jen Cohen’s search committee, and Wilcox was Petersen’s defensive coordinator at Boise State prior to joining Sarkisian’s UW staff. Because of that, Heaps thinks Wilcox is “definitely a name to look out for.”
Wilcox is 24-27 since taking over at Cal in 2017.
UCLA’s Chip Kelly
Another Pac-12 coach to watch? Someone who ran the conference a decade ago at Oregon.
“The other one that’s out there is UCLA’s Chip Kelly,” Heaps said.
Kelly, who Huard also said to keep an eye on, went 46-7 in his four years at Oregon from 2009-12 with three Pac-12 titles and four BCS bowl game appearances before departing for the NFL, where he coached the Philadelphia Eagles for four years and the San Francisco 49ers for one season.
Kelly has been at UCLA since 2018 and has gone 16-25 overall. The Bruins are 6-4 this season. It’s unclear whether or not Kelly will be looking for a new team or not, though.
“I don’t know how that would work out here and if Chip Kelly’s just trying to leverage UCLA into giving him another contract, but that is another name to keep an eye out for,” Heaps said.
Fresno State’s Kailen DeBoer
“I’m gonna give you one name, an outsider name that isn’t a sexy name, but a name that they should absolutely 100% interview and take a look at and that is Fresno State’s Kailen DeBoer,” Heaps said for his last choice.
DeBoer has been at Fresno State since 2020, and the Bulldogs are 11-6 under him.
Heaps said that DeBoer’s background reminds him of current Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley, who, like DeBoer, coached at a very small school before getting a major coordinator job soon after. Staley went to the NFL in 2017 after stints as defensive coordinator at John Carroll and James Madison, became Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator in 2020, and was hired by the Chargers this year.
“Kailen DeBoer, he takes over as the offensive coordinator at Indiana after being a very successful NAIA head coach at Sioux Falls, going 67-3,” Heaps said. “So no one knew about this guy and Indiana all of a sudden takes off and is a big-time offensive powerhouse in the Big Ten and making some waves. He then gets an opportunity with Fresno State.”
Now, DeBoer has the Bulldogs 8-3 this year with former UW Huskies quarterback Jake Haener, who Heaps said “kind of turned into a stud and a star under this offensive system.”
“So if you’re thinking offensive-heavy and think about somebody who has succeeded and has had head coaching experience, he’s now gotten it at Fresno State,” Heaps said of DeBoer. “He’s proven that it can work. So maybe that’s a guy that you look at based off of maybe being a rising star in the industry who’s had some head coaching experience that could come here to UW as not necessarily the name that everybody is recognizing, but that could be someone that you could point to for sure.”
Listen to the second hour of Monday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.