Huard on DeBoer leaving, what UW Huskies must do next

Jan 12, 2024, 12:32 PM | Updated: 4:53 pm

UW Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer...

UW Huskies coach Kalen DeBoer during a game against Cal on Sept. 23, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The UW Huskies are in the market for a new head coach.

Reports surfaced Friday that Kalen DeBoer is close to leaving Washington for Alabama after going 25-3 in two years in Seattle and making a run at a national championship. His hiring was officially announced Friday evening by Alabama.

Kalen DeBoer officially hired as Alabama’s head coach

Brock Huard, who is a FOX college football analyst in addition to co-host of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Friday after those initial reports surfaced.

Huard said that DeBoer had a new contract offer from Washington on his desk for over a month, but his focus was on trying to win the national championship. He instead left contract talks to his agent, Jimmy Sexton, who represents most of college football’s top coaches, including now-retired Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who DeBoer is succeeding with the Crimson Tide.

So why is DeBoer leaving? Aside from Alabama being perhaps the top college football program in the country, Huard thinks this had a lot to do with taking care of DeBoer’s coaching staff, which is filled largely by people he’s worked with for many years.

“I think for Kalen DeBoer to climb from where he’s been all over the place … he looked at that and he looked at (UW offensive coordinator Ryan) Grubb, and he looked at (co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach) William Inge, and he looked at his guys and said, ‘You want to do this? I’m gonna take the shot,'” he said. “And I’d be very hard pressed to believe, Bump and Stacy, that he looked in the mirror and it was his decision for him. I think this was for his staff.”

Huard later added: “Really, just knowing Kalen as the most genuine, selfless dude that I have seen in that seat right there with (former Boise State and UW head coach) Chris Petersen – and much like Chris Petersen turned down jobs over the years because his staff didn’t want to go with him and he couldn’t get everybody (to go with him), this is one that I think the whole squad goes down there.”

Huard thinks DeBoer’s staff is also a key reason Alabama had interest. Because no one person can fill Saban’s shoes, Huard said, he thinks Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne decided he wanted a coach with a staff that’s done a lot together, trusts each other and has a history of success.

Based on all of that, Huard doesn’t think Grubb, the biggest name on DeBoer’s staff, is going to get promoted to head coach of the Huskies.

“I don’t think Washington’s gonna be elevating Ryan Grubb. Coming off where they’re coming off the last two years and going into the Big Ten, they’re going to need someone that’s been there before and sat in the seat,” he said.

Huard thinks “doors will open” for Grubb and others if they have success at Alabama in the SEC.

Now, new UW athletic director Troy Dannen will have to make his first big hire. He did not hire DeBoer, as that came under previous AD Jen Cohen, who went to USC this fall.

“You look through the guys that have been there and done it as a head coach, it is a thin filter, man,” Huard said. “It gets very, very thin very, very quickly. It’s a hard hard job to find. But now Troy Dannen, the new AD who has seen nothing but success since he has been there and inherited all of it, is now in a spot where he’s got to make an amazingly, amazingly big decision.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Brock Huard in the podcast at this link or near the top of this post.

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