Dannen had ‘inkling around Thanksgiving’ DeBoer may leave UW

Jan 16, 2024, 8:40 AM | Updated: 8:52 am

UW Huskies Kalen DeBoer...

UW Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer during the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, 2022. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

It’s been a crazy eight days for UW Huskies football as the Dawgs fell to Michigan in the title game last Monday and four days later, head coach Kalen DeBoer left the program for Alabama to take over for Nick Saban, who retired last Wednesday.

UW athletic director Troy Dannen, who was hired in October, then had to find a replacement for DeBoer, which he found in Jedd Fisch, who was hired on Sunday and comes to Washington after three years in Arizona. Fisch will officially be introduced on Tuesday.

UW Huskies hire Arizona’s Jedd Fisch as head coach

DeBoer leaving Washington after two seasons and a 25-3 record was disappointing for UW fans, but according to Dannen, it didn’t catch him quite as off guard as you may have thought.

“Believe it or not, I had an inkling around Thanksgiving (that DeBoer might leave),” Dannen told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk Tuesday morning. “We put a pretty good contract offer on the table and when we couldn’t get it signed, that gave me some pause.”

Dannen said his No. 1 priority after getting hired was extending DeBoer, and that he actually had a contract offer on DeBoer’s table within two weeks of getting the UW job.

But because DeBoer didn’t sign it, Dannen did start planning for a future without him just in case.

“The fact that we couldn’t get it signed led me to believe that there might be uncertainty down the line,” Dannen said. “Frankly, I’d been doing due diligence really over the last month and maybe five weeks just in case this eventuality came.”

“I’m certainly not in a position to foresee Nick Saban retiring, but you just never know what was coming,” Dannen added. “But there was a reason we couldn’t get it signed, and it wasn’t because of what the contract looked like. So that inkling is there, and it did give me a long runway to do a lot of due diligence along the way.”

Dannen said he talked to both DeBoer and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, throughout the process and that it was “pretty normal, pretty typical in a situation like this.” Sexton not only represents DeBoer and a number of other big-name coaches in the nation, he also represented Saban for many years. That led Mike Salk to ask Dannen whether he felt DeBoer and Sexton were “above board” with him.

“You’re never gonna get the whole story,” Dannen said with a laugh. “If you go in expecting to know the actual truth and the whole story, then then shame on you. Everything that I’ve been told was consistent.”

Dannen told Brock and Salk he’s been around long enough that he’s learned to “read between the lines a little bit.”

“There weren’t any surprises from my standpoint. I know it caught a lot of people off guard, but it was almost matter of fact. And I know that might seem cold, but this is back to the enterprise,” he said. “This is a part of college athletics, and it happens not just in football, it happens in basketball and other sports. And part of my job is to just try to analyze it as much as you can, and then be prepared if something does happen because there are things outside of our control.”

And here’s what Dannen said when asked what he learned about UW’s standing in college football after DeBoer left for Alabama.

“I said this when I got here: Not all moves are about money. And frankly when you’re talking about what’s the difference between $9.5 million and $10.5 million, do you make a move for that?” he said. “… At what point is it no longer about money? Is it about other things? And those are the things you can’t control. So I think it says less about our place in the hierarchy of college football and it really says more about the individual’s motivations and desires and goals.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with UW Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen at this link or in the video player near the top of this story.

More on UW Huskies’ head coaching situation

• Hasselbeck, Huard share thoughts on UW Huskies coach Jedd Fisch
• Video: Brock Huard breaks down UW Huskies’ hire of Jedd Fisch
• What to know about new UW Huskies head coach Jedd Fisch
• Kalen DeBoer emotional about leaving UW Huskies at Bama intro
• UW Huskies’ Kalen DeBoer officially hired as Alabama head coach

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Dannen had ‘inkling around Thanksgiving’ DeBoer may leave UW