Brock Huard Reacts: UW athletic director Jen Cohen goes to USC

Aug 21, 2023, 11:20 AM | Updated: 1:24 pm

The UW Huskies dropped a bombshell earlier this month by agreeing to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, and on Monday yet another bombshell came out of Montlake as one of the key players in that deal left for a conference rival.

Jen Cohen, who has been the University of Washington athletic director since 2016, has accepted the same position with USC.

USC hiring UW Huskies’ Jen Cohen as athletic director, AP source says

Cohen is a member of the College Football Playoff committee and is credited for hiring UW Huskies football coach Kalen DeBoer, who had a successful first year at the helm in 2022 and whose program goes into this season as a CFP contender and the No. 10 ranked team in the Associated Press poll. She has been in Washington’s athletic department since 1998.

Cohen was announced as USC’s new athletic director in a Monday afternoon press conference.

As soon as the news of Cohen’s departure for Southern California broke Monday morning, Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk shared their instant reactions. The included co-host Brock Huard, who has an insider perspective on the development as a UW alum, former Huskies quarterback, and current college football analyst for FOX.

“This does not surprise me,” Huard said. “… Kind of like Colorado leaving (the Pac-12 for the Big 12), I had heard rumblings of this for months. It really is a testament to Jen, and I couldn’t be more proud and more happy for her. As she has climbed, as she has worked, as she has ascended when I was there in school with (my wife) Molly – in the 1990s, Jen was was there and starting and working her way up and climbing and climbing, and she has gained so much respect. So this is going to be a massive payday for her. This is a huge step on the national landscape for her, and I could not be more happy for her.”

Mike Salk, Huard’s longtime co-host, shared his own perspective on Cohen.

“I’ve gotten a chance to know Jen over the course of the last few years – I just texted her at some point, I got her number or email address and sent her an email, said, ‘Hey, I’d love to meet and have lunch one day,’ and she readily agreed. We sat down and formed a nice relationship since. She is a heck of an interesting person and really bright, fantastic at what she does, wonderful fundraiser – brought a lot of money into the program, which they needed. The Adidas deal, right? I mean, she oversaw some really difficult decisions and I think ultimately did a pretty good job. Great job with how she handled the Washington program.”

Salk then asked Huard the big question: “Why is this happening? Is this because USC is going to get a larger chunk of the revenue than Washington is?”

Answered Huard: “Sure. … That brand (USC is) going to the Big Ten, and it’s going to be probably – I don’t know the numbers, but I’m gonna guess – double her pay. At least, she was not one of the high-paid ADs. They did not take care of her in that way, just being point blank. And I think USC knows what they’re getting and went after it, and had to get the right person at this time after firing (former AD) Mike Bohn, which was a colossal disaster. A lot of the upheaval that they have been in, you look at her track record of (former UW football coach) Chris Peterson, of moving on from (former UW football coach) Jimmy Lake in a hurry when it was wrong, of hiring Kalen DeBoer. You know, her hires in many of the Olympic sports have been home runs, and she is a go-getter, man. … She’s on the Playoff committee. She’s respected on a national level. And she is now going to get an immense, immense payday, which she deserves.”

For the full conversation, watch the YouTube video or listen to the podcast in the audio player near the top of this post.

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Brock Huard Reacts: UW athletic director Jen Cohen goes to USC