UW Huskies hire Arizona’s Jedd Fisch as head coach

Jan 14, 2024, 1:08 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm

UW Huskies Jedd Fisch...

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch talks with QB Jayden de Laura during a game against Oregon in 2022. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Just two days after Kalen DeBoer left the UW Huskies for Alabama, the Dawgs have signed Jedd Fisch as their new head football coach.

What to know about new UW Huskies head coach Jedd Fisch

The signing of Fisch, who has been at Arizona the past three seasons, was officially revealed on social media by first-year UW athletic director Troy Dannen late Sunday afternoon.

Dannen’s post came after hours of reports by college football insiders that Fisch had emerged as Washington’s focus in its search for a new coach. Dannen’s video shows him arriving at Fisch’s house in Arizona, with Fisch signing a contract on a counter.

The 47-year-old Fisch had been a popular name for the UW vacancy ever since DeBoer left to replace Nick Saban at Alabama on Friday, which came just four days after he coached the Huskies in a College Football Playoff National Championship loss to Michigan. Fisch led the Wildcats to a 10-3 record in 2023.

The other side: Arizona Sports on Jedd Fisch to UW Huskies

“In seeking a new head coach, we wanted to move quickly but thoroughly and sought out a coach who would build on our foundation, bring energy to the program, has a track record of success, is an elite recruiter and was someone who young men wanted to play for,” Dannen said in a press release. “We found all of those characteristics and more in Jedd Fisch. It became clear through our conversations that he shares our values and our vision for UW Football, and he is the right coach at the right time as we transition to the Big Ten Conference.”

Fisch had a statement in the release, as well.

“It is truly an honor to join the University of Washington and do my part in carrying on the tradition of a storied football program and world-class university,” Fisch said. “The unbelievable success of the Huskies the last two seasons demonstrates what UW is capable of and I cannot wait to compete for Big Ten and national championships with tremendous young men and an outstanding coaching staff that we will assemble.”

Fisch also addressed “Husky Nation” in a video before boarding a plane to Seattle.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel was the first to report that Fisch had become the center of UW’s search on Sunday. He added that Fisch is “the only candidate Washington officials have engaged with after their initial phone calls.”

Per ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Fisch is scheduled to travel to Seattle on Sunday night and meet with Husky players around 8:30 p.m.

Bruce Feldman, college football insider for The Athletic, reported Sunday that UW’s contract with Fisch will be for seven years with a $7.75 million annual salary.

Thamel reported that Fisch would cost Washington $5.5 million to buy him out of his contract at Arizona, though the Huskies will be able to cover that easily as they are due to receive $12 million from Alabama for buying out DeBoer’s deal at UW.

Who is Jedd Fisch?

Though Fisch is just 17-22 since arriving at Arizona in 2021, he has completely turned around a program that went 0-5 in 2020 and was had lost 12 straight games at the time he was hired. The Wildcats finished as the No. 11 team in the final Associated Press poll for the 2023 season after capping their campaign with a 38-24 win over then-No. 12 Oklahoma on Dec. 28 in the Alamo Bowl.

Arizona finished third in the Pac-12 with a 7-2 conference record in 2023. It won 10 games overall for just the fourth time in program history and first time since 2014, and it ended the season on a seven-game winning streak, the Wildcats’ longest since 1998. The No. 11 ranking in the AP poll was also their highest finish in the same time period.

U of A will join the Big 12 this year, while Washington is headed to the Big Ten. Arizona’s athletic department is dealing with financial issues, so UW could appeal to Fisch for the sake of stability.

Fisch may be familiar to die-hard Seattle football fans, having spent the 2010 season as Seahawks quarterbacks coach under Pete Carroll. His offensive coordinator at Arizona is Brennan Carroll, Pete Carroll’s son.

Fisch, who comes from an offensive background, received his first shot as a head coach with Arizona but still has a decorated résumé. He was offensive coordinator and had a brief stint as interim coach at UCLA in 2017, then spent three years in the NFL – first as senior offensive assistant and assistant coordinator/offense with the Los Angeles Rams (2018-19), then as QBs coach for Bill Belichick in New England (2020). He was also at the University of Michigan from 2015-16 under the titles of QB coach, wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

A New Jersey native and alum of the University of Florida, Fisch began his coaching career in 1999 with two seasons as a graduate assistant with the Gators. He then had stints in the NFL with Houston, Baltimore and Denver, followed by a year at the University of Minnesota before joining Carroll’s Seahawks staff. He was also offensive coordinator and QB coach for the Miami Hurricanes in 2011-12.

The search

Attention on Fisch intensified after Kansas head coach Lance Leipold, another name rumored to be of interest for UW, indicated Sunday that he is staying with the Jayhawks.

Ryan Grubb, Washington’s offensive coordinator the past two years under DeBoer and another name many expected to be up for the Huskies’ job, shared on social media Saturday that he would not be the new UW head coach even though he “wanted to be.” Grubb is expected to be DeBoer’s OC at Alabama.

A big question now concerns the Huskies’ quarterback situation. Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr. is headed to the NFL Draft, and both recent Mississippi State transfer Will Rogers and former four-star recruit Austin Mack, who enrolled at UW last spring, stated their intentions to enter the transfer portal following DeBoer’s departure.

More: Grubb says he won’t be UW Huskies coach – but “wanted to be”

Insiders weigh in on Jedd Fisch and UW Huskies

Brock Huard, a former UW Huskies quarterback who is now co-host of Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk as well as a FOX college football analyst, shared his thoughts on both Fisch and the departure of DeBoer on social media after Thamel’s initial report.

“No one coach was gonna follow Nick Saban at Bama and fill his shoes. In DeBoer they knew they’d get his staff and whole operation,” Huard wrote. “For UW, this late in the game, they likewise need more than just an individual head coach. If it’s Fisch, I’d bet staff and many players come with him too.”

Feldman spoke to Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob on Friday about Fisch as a potential target for UW following DeBoer’s departure.

Tumultuous week leaves UW Huskies football trying to rebuild

“I think Jedd Fisch would be a really strong candidate,” Feldman said of the UW Huskies’ vacancy. “He has done an amazing job at Arizona. They were horrific when he got there and this year just won 10 games. That’s something to do there, and they’re going to be really good next year if he stays because almost everybody is back.

“He is a guy who makes some sense on a lot of levels. He’s obviously done well on the West Coast, he’s worked in Seattle from his time under Pete Carroll, he’s coached in the Big Ten, where obviously (Washington is) going to, because he was on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan. Now, I know that Arizona has offered him a new contract and they want him there, but nothing has been finalized or finished on that front from what I’m told.”

On Saturday, it was reported that Fisch and Arizona had agreed in principle on a restructured contract, though that did not quiet the rumors that he could land in Seattle.

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