Jedd Fisch explains how and why he became UW Huskies head coach
Feb 2, 2024, 11:04 AM | Updated: 11:04 am
(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
The UW Huskies are coming off a National Championship Game appearance, but things are now looking mighty different as there’s a new head coach running the program in Jedd Fisch.
Fisch went from Arizona to UW after Kalen DeBoer left Washington for Alabama. Fisch has been quite the journeyman in his career, and he’s excited to take over the Washington program.
“I could give you three or four different examples of moves that I’ve made that I’ve asked my family to move across the country … and all of it was to hopefully be in a position today like being the head coach at the University of Washington and sitting here with a long-term contract to be able to say what is this program going to look like?” Fisch said during a Friday interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. “How do we win a championship? And how are we able to be in position to take his team to the Big Ten and sustain success?”
Fisch wasn’t expecting to leave Arizona this offseason, but when Washington came calling, it was hard to say no. It also happened incredibly quickly.
“This is the 2024 version of becoming a head coach in college. You have about a 40-minute phone conversation, and you’re the head coach,” he said. “… In college football right now, if you lose a coach, you don’t want to lose your team along with it. So things happen really fast.”
Fisch said he got an initial call from UW on a Saturday, the day after DeBoer left for Alabama, and later that night, he was offered the job.
Washington will be in the Big Ten next year, and that was a big factor in Fisch taking the job.
“The No. 1 thing I knew was going to the Big Ten, playing in the power conference. There’s two conferences that are gonna be the NFL here soon, and that’s the Big Ten and the SEC,” Fisch said. “There’s gonna be two conferences that can win championships, and they’re gonna be the Big Ten and the SEC. And if you have a chance to coach at one of those two conferences, especially at (a school) that just played in the national championship, you don’t have an option in this profession other than to say yes. This is what our dreams are. Our dream is to win and compete in the national championship. So really the only answer was yes when they offered the job … Really it was simple. You want to go to a place where you can win a national championship and sustain success if you’re going to work 18 or 19 hours a day. And really, there’s probably about 12 schools in the country that can do that.”
How UW Huskies will approach recruiting
A big part of UW’s success the last two years wasn’t just keeping key players at Washington, but adding impact transfers like quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
The Huskies are losing nearly every key player from their championship run, and while UW will utilize the transfer portal, Fisch wants the roster to be built on high school recruiting.
“I think it’s an opportunity that we have that I’ve coached and other members of our staff have coached in the NFL,” Fisch said. “And teams in the NFL that are most successful are the teams that build it through the draft and use free agency to supplement the roster. I want to build it through high school recruiting. To do that, you have to have a little bit of patience and know that you have to develop some players and then play some young players and deal with some mistakes.”
Fisch said he challenged his staff to make the 2025 recruiting class the best in UW Huskies history.
“To do that, we’ve got to, for the next 365 days, be on overdrive,” he said.
Fisch also made it no secret that freshman will see the field as long as he’s head coach.
“We’re gonna play freshmen. And once you play freshmen and you show high school kids you’ll play freshmen, more high school kids will come,” he said. “And once you play freshmen, your sophomores and juniors, like what happened that Arizona, become the teams that can win 10 games … That’s our strategy. We tell our kids all the time that if you want to be in the NFL, come here. If you want to run an NFL offense, come here. And we’re gonna go hire a defensive coordinator that’s going to run an NFL defense, and we’re going to tell them all if you like what you see on Sunday, come here on Saturday and get ready for it.”
Defensive coordinator incoming
The UW Huskies have their entire offensive coaching staff in place, but Fisch has yet to hire a defensive coordinator or fill out his staff on that side of the ball.
Expect that to change in the near future.
“My goal is to have that closed by Monday. We’re pretty close,” Fisch said. “We’re pretty much down the line with our defensive coordinator candidates. Once we get that done, everything else should fall into place pretty quick.”
Fisch said he was “adamant” about what he wanted out of his defensive coordinator.
“I wasn’t just going to go hire someone that I wasn’t familiar with or someone that wasn’t going to do what we wanted, which was you better run an NFL defense,” he said.
Shortly after the interview ended, the UW Huskies were linked to New England Patriots outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick, who Fisch coached with in New England. Steve Belichick is the son of legendary coach Bill Belichick, and the younger Belichick called defensive plays for the last four years.
Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with Jedd Fisch at this link or in the player near the top of this story.