How can UW Huskies keep coach Kalen DeBoer as jobs open up?
Nov 15, 2023, 3:07 PM
(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
The UW Huskies are 10-0 and hold a No. 5 ranking in both the College Football Playoff rankings and Associated Press poll.
The Huskies are far from under the radar anymore, and that’s led to an entirely different story to follow with this team.
One of the biggest pieces of news in the college football world this week was Texas A&M firing head coach Jimbo Fisher and eating nearly $80 million in the process.
With Fisher gone, rumors have started to swirl about who Texas A&M will target to replace him.
Many names, such as former Texas A&M defensive coordinator and current Duke head coach Mike Elko have been tied to the opening, and UW Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer has also been mentioned by college football analysts.
It makes sense for A&M why they’d want DeBoer, who is 22-2 at UW and is riding a 17-game win streak.
DeBoer would also presumably get a massive pay raise as, according to On3.com, was the 46th-highest paid coach in college football entering the year, which is also eighth in the Pac-12. That comes after DeBoer signed an extension last season amid an 11-2 run for the Huskies in his first year at Washington.
“Let’s see what ends up happening here over the course of the next few weeks. But the (Texas) A&M job is open, we’ll see what ends up happening at Michigan. There will probably be some other jobs that we’re not expecting that will come open,” Mike Salk said during Tuesday’s Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports. “… So jobs are going to become available, and those are schools that are willing to pony up quite a bit of cash for the guy that they think is the hot name. And Kalen DeBoer will be one of, if not the biggest hot name out there on the market.”
DeBoer, naturally, was asked about that during his Monday press conference.
“This is a great place. I’ve said it. Listen, I mean, my family, I keep bringing it up, but my family loves it here,” he said. “… There’s just a lot of things that I love about this place. This is a championship football program. I’ve said it from day one, it’s got the bones of championships. And I love the way we’ve been accepted into this place. It’s a great place to coach. And like I said earlier, Troy is trying to do everything he can to help myself and the staff continue this journey that we’re on.”
Brock Huard, a former UW Huskies quarterback and current FOX Sports analyst, thinks a recent UW hire is a critical one as it pertains to signing DeBoer to another extension, and one that’s more lucrative than the one he inked last season.
“They had to get the (athletic director) job right in order to keep Kalen DeBoer around. Let me just say that really clearly,” Huard said.
Jen Cohen was UW’s AD when the school hired DeBoer away from Fresno State. But she left for that same role at USC before in August.
UW hired Troy Dannen, who had been at Tulane since 2015, in October.
Huard thinks UW “getting the AD right” and hiring Dannen is key.
“They didn’t go, Salk, a direction that I think a fair amount of people thought that they would go. They didn’t go with just a younger (person who was in the program),” Huard said. “They went with a 50-something (year old) from Iowa, cut his teeth at kind of a small college and out at Tulane. But they went with somebody who knows that football drives the ship. Jen Cohen understood that, and she committed to it. And she got Chris Petersen along with (former AD) Scott Woodward. She paid Chris Petersen. She knew at that time (former UW Huskies head coach) Jimmy Lake was not right and had to fire him … And then did the right thing by football — not by PR, not by a headline, but by football — to get Kalen DeBoer.”
“I’ve been around a lot of ADs as well in this job, Salk. If it was a different AD that are like, ‘No, no, no. Maybe it’s not all about football. Let’s do these other things. And let’s take care of other stuff first and let’s let’s spread this out,'” Huard later added. “No. Football is the engine that allows you to spread everything out, Barbara.”
Barbara in this case is former Washington AD Barbara Hedges, who ran UW’s athletic department from 1991 until 2004.
“This was the right hire to understand that,” Huard said of Dannen. “(He’s) like-minded with Kalen. From what I understand even a couple of weeks in (of working together), those two totally get it, totally on the same page. And you’re right, Salk, they’re gonna have to pony up for Kalen and his staff first, and then it will be the facilities, the upgrades, the things that they need to do to compete with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State as they move into (the Big Ten).”
Salk thinks he’d understand why DeBoer would consider leaving for a different job.
“I put myself in Kalen DeBoer shoes … He’s (been successful at UW) with an adult, a transfer quarterback who he already knew, over the course of two years with a huge group of talent that he didn’t really recruit. He kept a lot of them and recruited them to stay, but that’s a little bit of a different skill,” Salk said. “If you’ve got the opportunity to parlay that into a top-tier job making huge money. That’d be hard to pass up.”
Huard thinks that presents a question that could play a big part in DeBoer staying or leaving.
“You just defined something and labeled something there — a top-tier job,” he said. ” … What is a top-tier job? How many top-tier jobs are better than this job? I mean, are there 10 that you could unequivocally say right now, ‘Yep, better job’? Are there 15? I don’t think it stretches that far.”
Ultimately, Huard thinks it’s very much a two-way street when it comes to DeBoer and UW being the right fit for one another.
“Do you think Kalen DeBoer wants and would want some of these places where everywhere he steps and everywhere he moves he is just that the story?” he asked. “Or do you think a guy that’s been at Eastern Michigan and Southern Illinois and Fresno State and Indiana kinda likes some of the anonymity that comes and let Pete Carroll and the Seahawks and let the Mariners and let them do all of that (in the spotlight) and I’ll just keep winning football games?”
Replied Salk, “The question is while it may be 10 or 15 in terms of opportunity in job, can it be 10 or 15 in terms of salary? And I don’t know the answer to that. That’s not entirely dependent on what the school is willing to pay. Some of it is dependent on what the boosters are willing to take kick in.”
DeBoer will need more money to stay at Washington, Huard said, but money is also a factor in a very different way.
‘”The salary today is not the salary of Kalen DeBoer. The salary today is the salary of his players,” Huard said. ” … Can we get to $5 million or $10 million in our collective to do what we’ve got to do, Salk, so when Michael Penix leaves and all of a sudden there’s three other top guys that want to be here and they want to play for me because I’ve proven with (Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener) and Penix in my system that you’re gonna flourish here, do we have enough in the kitty not for my salary, but for the salary of these difference-makers as well (in NIL)?”
Listen to the full fourth hour of Tuesday’s Brock and Salk at this link or in the player near the top of this story.