UW Huskies Coach Candidates: Who will replace Alabama-bound DeBoer?

Jan 12, 2024, 1:14 PM | Updated: 4:52 pm

UW Huskies head coach Chris Klieman...

Head coach Chris Klieman of the Kansas State Wildcats on Nov. 12, 2022. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

(Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

New UW Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen will now make a decision he likely hoped he wouldn’t have to make, as Washington’s college football program is now in the market for a new head coach.

Kalen DeBoer officially hired as Alabama’s head coach

Kalen DeBoer will be the new head coach at Alabama after two years at Washington, so who are the UW Huskies’ potential options to replace him?

Here are a few names identified by ESPN’s Pete Thamel to keep an eye on, as well as two other big names certainly worth mentioning.

• Ryan Grubb, UW offensive coordinator

Grubb, 45, is a big name for Washington after leading its offense to major heights these past two seasons as DeBoer’s right-hand man.

Grubb had offers to coach elsewhere last offseason, including ironically enough at Alabama as offensive coordinator under then-head coach Nick Saban.

DeBoer is likely going to try and keep his staff together, but for Washington, perhaps elevating Grubb would be best in order to keep as much continuity as possible after 25 wins over the last two years.

It’s worth noting, though, that former UW quarterback Brock Huard does not expect Grubb to get Washington’s head coaching job. Click here for more.

• Jedd Fisch, Arizona head coach

Fisch, 47, has just a 17-22 record as a college head coach in three years at Arizona, but he is a hot name to watch after a 10-3 season in 2023.

Fisch comes from an offensive background, including a year with the Seahawks as quarterbacks coach in 2010 under Pete Carroll.

Arizona lost to UW this year, but by just a touchdown as Fisch’s Wildcats were one of the nation’s biggest surprise teams.

• Lance Leipold, Kansas head coach

Leipold, 59, has found success at Kansas, a school not known for its football prowess.

After going 37-33 at Buffalo, Leipold joined Kansas in 2021. After a rough 2-10 start that year, the Jayhawks are 15-11 over the last two years, including 9-4 in 2023.

Leipold, like DeBoer, comes from a small school background. He was a successful coach at his alma mater, Wisconsin-Whitewater, going 109-6 and winning seven Division-III national championships.

• Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach

Campbell, 44, was reportedly a top target for UW in 2021 when the school hired DeBoer.

He is 53-48 at Iowa State since 2016 and 87-63 overall as a head coach, including a stop at Toledo.

Campbell may not be the hot name he was two years ago after going 4-8 in 2022 and 7-6 in 2023, but he’s been a name brought up in every coaching cycle for other jobs.

• Chris Klieman, Kansas State head coach

Klieman, 56, has won a lot as a head coach, primarily at FCS North Dakota State, where the Bison went 69-6 with three national championships in five seasons. He’s 39-24 in five years at Kansas State, including a Big 12 title in 2022.

Kleiman owns a 111-37 overall record as a head coach.

• Barry Odom, UNLV head coach

Odom, 47, has experience coaching in a big conference as he spent four years with Missouri in the SEC, going 25-25.

A former linebacker and defensive assistant, Odom went 9-5 at UNLV in 2023.

• Kyle Whitingham, Utah head coach

It’s strange to think about Whittingham, 64, coaching somewhere besides Utah, but Thamel still mentioned his name.

Whittingham has been at Utah since 1994, rising from defensive line coach to head coach, which he’s been since 2005 with a 162-79 record and a lot of Mountain West and Pac-12 success. Utah now is heading to the Big 12 in 2024.

• Dave Clawson, Wake Forest head coach

Clawson, 56, has been at Wake Forest since 2014, going 63-61 there in that time. He also had head coaching jobs at Fordham, Richmond and Bowling Green, and owns a 153-141 career record. He was ACC Coach of the Year in 2021.

Clawson played defensive back in college but coached primarily on offense before becoming a head coach.

• Kalani Sitake, BYU head coach

Sitake, 48, has coached at his alma mater since 2016, amassing a 61-41 record.

A former college fullback, Sitake coached primarily defense before becoming a head coach in 2016.

BYU has played UW under Sitake before, and he was at Oregon State as defensive coordinator as well as Utah before that.

Two other options?

• Chris Petersen, former UW Huskies head coach

Who better than someone who’s had the job at Washington, succeeded there and is still part of the program?

That would be Petersen, 59, who went 55-26 with the UW Huskies and won two Pac-12 titles, including on the way to a College Football Playoff appearance in 2016. This came after a 92-12 run at Boise State.

Petersen retired after the 2019 season and moved into an advisory role with the UW Huskies’ athletic department. He also works as a college football analyst for FOX Sports.

Petersen did retire partially because of the future he saw coming for college football, which has seen a lot on emphasis on the transfer portal and NIL money in recent years. But if Petersen finds the drive to coach again, he’s already on campus. It’s more likely he’ll be helping Dannen with this upcoming hire, though.

• Pete Carroll, former Seahawks and USC head coach

DeBoer isn’t the only Seattle-based coach to move on this week.

Carroll, 72, has been removed as head coach of the Seahawks despite saying he wanted to keep coaching the team.

Carroll isn’t just a Super Bowl-winning coach, but he had an awful lot of success in college at USC, going 97-19 in nine years with two national championships.

Carroll isn’t sure if he’ll coach again, and if he does, it would make sense he’d want to be in the NFL. But should he go back to college, he’d have more credentials than any other coach in the country with two national titles and a Super Bowl ring to boast. It would be awfully fun to see Carroll running a college football program in today’s day and age.

More on Kalen DeBoer leaving UW Huskies

Brock Huard’s insight on DeBoer leaving, what UW Huskies must do next
Bruce Feldman’s top candidates for UW Huskies’ head coaching job

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UW Huskies Coach Candidates: Who will replace Alabama-bound DeBoer?