UW Huskies name Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer head coach

Nov 29, 2021, 11:42 AM | Updated: 2:52 pm
UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer...
Head coach Kalen DeBoer of the Fresno State Bulldogs walks the sideline during the second half of an NCAA football game against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
(Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Just a few days after the UW Huskies’ disappointing 2021 football season ended with a loss to rival WSU, the program has its next leader.

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Washington announced Monday afternoon it has hired Kalen DeBoer, who has spent the past two seasons coaching the Fresno State Bulldogs, to lead the program in Seattle.

The announcement was made in a video on the UW football program’s official Twitter account, showing Washington athletic director Jen Cohen traveling to California and DeBoer signing the contract at his home.

Reports that DeBoer would be coming to Montlake began to surface Monday morning. He becomes the 30th head football coach in Husky history.

“I could not be more excited to welcome Kalen and his wonderful family to the University of Washington,” Cohen said in a press release. “We set out to find the best fit for Husky football and we found an individual that exemplifies everything this program represents. Kalen is a winner and champion, plain and simple. He has succeeded at every stop because he does it the right way and is committed to a culture of excellence for Husky football student-athletes. His strong value alignment with our department, university and community will make all of Husky Nation proud.”

DeBoer also shared a statement in the press release.

“My family and I are so grateful for the opportunity to lead such a storied program and be part of this prestigious institution,” he said. “The tough, hard-nosed tradition of Washington football speaks for itself, and it was obvious throughout this process that UW is committed to competing at the highest level. This is a perfect fit for me and I would like to thank Jen Cohen and President (Ana Mari) Cauce for their trust. We could not be more excited to get to Seattle and get to work.”

The Huskies, who went 4-8 and finished next to last in the Pac-12 North, were in need of a new head coach after Jimmy Lake was fired just 14 games into his head coaching tenure, which came a little over a week after he was part of a sideline altercation during a game against Oregon where he pushed one of his players. Lake was the successor of Chris Petersen after the latter retired following the 2019 season. Lake had previously served as defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator under Petersen, and the Huskies went 7-7 during his head coaching tenure.

DeBoer, 47, was in his second year as the head coach of Fresno State. He led the Bulldogs to a 12-6 record, including a 9-3 regular season finish in 2021.

Fresno State is DeBoer’s second head coaching gig, as he led NAIA Sioux Falls from 2005-09 after serving as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2000-04. Under DeBoer, Sioux Falls went 67-3 during those five years, winning three NAIA championships.

After a stellar run at Sioux Falls, DeBoer went to Southern Illinois, an FCS program, to serve as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. He held that job from 2010-13 before jumping up to the FBS level, calling plays and serving as quarterbacks coach for Eastern Michigan from 2014-16. DeBoer then joined Fresno State as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2017, then left for Indiana in the Big Ten in 2019. The Hoosiers averaged 31.7 points per game that season.

After the lone year in Indiana, DeBoer got his first D-1 head coaching job in 2020, which came in the Mountain West Conference as he returned to Fresno State.

DeBoer obviously comes from an offensive background in his coaching, and he’s gotten great quarterback play during his time at Fresno State. Funny enough, that’s been with a former UW quarterback under center.

Jake Haener, who was with the Huskies in 2017 and 2018, transferred to Fresno State in 2019. After sitting out that year due to transfer rules, Haener became the starter for DeBoer in 2020. In six games last year, Haener completed 64.7% of his passes for 2,021 yards (336.83 per game), 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. In 12 games this season, Haener has completed over 67% of his passes for 3,810 yards (317.5 per game), 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

DeBoer’s background of running effective offenses with potent passing attacks is worth noting as the Huskies have former five-star recruit Sam Huard, who redshirted in 2021 but still appeared in six games including one start, set to return to campus next year. Huard joined the program as one of the biggest standout commits in UW Huskies history as he shattered Washington state high school passing records. He’s also the son of former UW star quarterback Damon Huard and the nephew of former UW star quarterback Brock Huard, who is a contributor for 710 ESPN Seattle.

DeBoer is the third new Pac-12 head coach named in recent days, joining Jake Dickert, who was made permanent head coach at WSU after a successful stint as the Cougars’ acting head coach, and Lincoln Riley, who left powerhouse Oklahoma for USC.

Read about what former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps thinks of DeBoer in this piece from Nov. 16, where Heaps listed DeBoer as a potential target for the UW Huskies.

WSU names Jake Dickert permanent head football coach


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