Coaching carousel, including UW moves, adds recruiting intrigue

Feb 8, 2024, 10:18 AM

UW Huskies Jedd Fisch coach...

New UW Huskies head football coach Jedd Fisch talks during a press conferece on Jan. 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

College football’s busy recruiting calendar created a particularly hectic first few weeks on the job for all the head coaches who switched schools over the last month.

Caple: Latest UW Huskies roster update as calendar turns to February

When Nick Saban announced his retirement last month, it set off a chain reaction that resulted in head coaching changes at Arizona, Washington and San Jose State as well as Alabama. That doesn’t even factor in Jim Harbaugh leaving Michigan for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers or Jeff Hafley exiting Boston College to become the Green Bay Packers’ defensive coordinator.

All those late coaching moves added some intrigue to the first Wednesday of February, a day that once highlighted the recruiting calendar but has been anti-climactic ever since the 2017 launch of a December signing period. New coaches had to re-recruit prospects who had signed to play for a different staff and now were free to look elsewhere.

UW Huskies coach Jedd Fisch, who was hired away from Arizona last month, was giving his Signing Day news conference at his new school Wednesday when he described the varied challenges he faced the last few weeks in keeping a roster together.

“You’ve got the group that wants to get to know you because they’ve committed to you, but they’re in the portal to go look somewhere else,” Fisch said. “Then you’ve got the next group that has signed with you, but they want to consider getting out of their national letter of intent because they chose a different staff. And then you have your own team who you have to figure out the guys who aren’t in the portal to make sure they don’t go in it.”

Kalen DeBoer, who preceded Fisch as Washington’s coach before deciding to replace Saban at Alabama, faced similar obstacles. So did Brent Brennan, who left San Jose State to take over for Fisch at Arizona.

The game of musical chairs between coaches carried over to the recruiting world.

Alabama announced on Wednesday the addition of edge rusher Noah Carter, who had signed with Washington in December but will now follow DeBoer to Tuscaloosa. Other players who had signed with the Huskies or committed to them but altered their plans after the coaching change included defensive linemen Ratumana Bulabalavu (who chose Southern California) and Dominic Kirks (Ohio State) as well as edge rusher Keona Wilhite (Nebraska).

The UW Huskies refortified their class by adding several players who originally had signed to play for Fisch at Arizona.

Alabama had its own recruiting issues after Saban’s departure.

Julian Sayin, the nation’s No. 1 quarterback and No. 6 overall prospect according to composite rankings of recruiting sites compiled by 247Sports, enrolled early at Alabama but entered the transfer portal after the coaching change and eventually committed to Ohio State. Alabama also lost cornerback Jameer Grimsley, who signed with the Tide in December but will now play at Florida instead.

But the Tide managed to keep five-star receiving prospect Ryan Williams, who had entered the transfer portal before opting to stick with Alabama.

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job,” DeBoer said last week regarding his roster management. “I know initially the uncertainty was there with coach Saban retiring, and we lost some guys. It’s just been a handful after that.”

While other power-conference programs that changed coaches were losing multiple signees, reigning national champion Michigan managed to keep its recruiting class intact even after Harbaugh’s departure. It helped that Michigan promoted offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore to provide some continuity rather than hiring someone from another school.

“I think it speaks to kind of the culture there and the type of kid they target on the recruiting trail,” said Andrew Ivins, director of scouting at 247Sports. “They want guys who are box checkers for them in terms of football IQ and developmental upside.”

Even with the movement by some recruits after coaching changes, February’s signing period didn’t provide nearly the same kind of drama that it did before prospects were allowed to finalize their college plans in December.

Ivins said that wide receiver Ashton Bethel-Roman was the only player ranked among the top 247 prospects by 247Sports who was uncommitted as of Wednesday morning. Bethel-Roman chose Texas A&M.

Texas A&M moved into the top 20 of the 247Sports Composite team rankings after signing Bethel-Roman and holding on to five-star all-purpose athlete Terry Bussey, who had committed to the Aggies in late September but continued to get recruited by other programs before finally signing on Wednesday.

AP Sports Writers Tim Booth and John Zenor contributed to this report.

Jedd Fisch explains how and why he became UW Huskies head coach

UW Huskies

UW Huskies coach Mike Hopkins...

The Associated Press

Collier scores career-high 31, leads USC past UW Huskies 82-75

Isaiah Collier scored a career-high 31 points, including eight in the final 2 1/2 minutes, and USC defeated UW Huskies 82-75 on Saturday.

6 hours ago

UW Huskies Keion Brooks Jr. Cal...

The Associated Press

Brooks makes 6 3-pointers, UW Huskies beat faltering UCLA 94-77

Keion Brooks Jr. made a career-high six 3-pointers and Braxton Meah blocked five shots on a gimpy ankle as the UW Huskies posted a 94-77 win over UCLA.

2 days ago

UW Huskies women women's basketball Elle Ladine...

Chris Talbott

UW Huskies women take down No. 9 Oregon State 61-51

Elle Ladine scored 23 points, and the UW Huskies beat No. 9 Oregon State 61-51 on Sunday to damage the Beavers’ hopes of at least sharing the last Pac-12 Conference title.

6 days ago

UW Huskies...

The Associated Press

Love scores 28, No. 4 Arizona bounces back to beat UW Huskies 91-75

Caleb Love scored 28 points and No. 4 Arizona bounced back from its first home loss of the season with a 91-75 win over the UW Huskies.

7 days ago

UW Huskies Oregon Ducks...

Christian Caple

Caple: Ranking the UW Huskies’ 2024 schedule from least to most intriguing

Christian Caple dives into the UW Huskies' 2024 football schedule, ranking the 12 regular season games from least to most intriguing.

8 days ago

UW Huskies transfer Arizona Jonah Coleman...

Christian Caple

Stability rankings: Which positions will be UW Huskies’ strongest?

Which positions are firmed up for the UW Huskies entering 2024? And where are the biggest roster holes? Christian Caple breaks it down.

8 days ago

Coaching carousel, including UW moves, adds recruiting intrigue