CHRISTIAN CAPLE

Jedd Fisch, Steve Belichick and Brennan Carroll preview UW Huskies’ spring

Mar 27, 2024, 3:01 PM

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)

Eight days ago, Jedd Fisch sat before a crowd of donors and answered questions about the UW Huskies’ football future with his two bosses — University of Washington president Ana Mari Cauce, and a fellow you might remember named Troy Dannen — at a country club outside Palm Springs.

The next morning, Dannen flew back to Seattle as Nebraska’s athletic director, his UW tenure ending before his six-month anniversary. Six days later, Pat Chun took his place.

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“I don’t think I spent enough time with Troy to even have a reaction,” Fisch said Wednesday, speaking alongside offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll and defensive coordinator Steve Belichick at a pre-spring luncheon inside Husky Stadium’s Touchdown Terrace.

If there are any coaches left in college football who would publicly lament such an abrupt exit by their hiring supervisor, though, Fisch isn’t one of them.

“I’m happy for Troy,” he continued. “I wish Troy the absolute best at the University of Nebraska. The conversation he had with me when he hired me and he hired our coaching staff was – he told me about how great the University of Washington was. That’s what I respect about Troy – Troy didn’t sell Troy. Troy sold the university. Troy sold Montlake. Troy sold the history. Troy sold the alumni. And Troy was right.

“Family decisions come into play, and we all have those. I’ve had numerous jobs myself. It is what it is there. I wish him the absolute best, and I think he’s going to be great.”

Fisch doesn’t seem to have any preexisting relationship with Chun, who will be introduced at a 10 a.m. Thursday press conference, though he did reference “a couple great conversations with Pat,” presumably during the search process or immediately upon its conclusion.

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“Partnership is critical, and nothing’s changed,” Fisch said. “The commitment to becoming an elite Big Ten school is what our commitment is. We understand there are some challenges early on with the half-share that we have, and we’re going to do everything we can to bridge that, whether that be through the university, whether that be through alumni, whether that be through donors. We’re going to have to get that bridged as we go on.

“Pat understands that. He understands the landscape of college football. He’s been on every single committee.”

Fisch will never be accused of setting goals too low.

Fisch repeated his desire Wednesday for Washington to sign the best recruiting class in school history in 2025, and also established a lofty expectation for UW’s spring-game attendance.

The Huskies begin spring practices next week, and conclude with a Friday night spring game on May 3.

“They said they have never had 30,000 people at the spring game,” Fisch said, “so the goal is 40,000 for this spring game. And we’re going to do everything we can to pump it up, to push it out there, and have an incredible environment on that Friday evening.”

Were UW to deliver upon that dream, it would mean a roughly 20-times increase over traditional spring game (spring preview, spring scrimmage, spring finale etc.) attendance.

“We want Seattle to be involved in our program. The only way to do that is to let them know what we want to do,” Fisch said. “We want to have the best recruiting class that UW’s ever had. Well, to do that, that’s going to take a financial commitment. That’s going to take a time commitment. And that’s going to take a fan base commitment, and we ask them to join us in that.

“If I told them I wanted to have the 30th-best class, then I think everybody would just go to the next tweet to read. So, might as well tell them we want to have the best one, and same with attendance, and same with wins.”

At Wednesday’s press conference, Fisch sat between a Carroll and a Belichick, and said the latter’s father would spend five days around the program this spring, including a keynote speech at UW’s coaches clinic. Also: “I’m sure Coach (Pete) Carroll will be out at spring practice.”

Brennan and Steve each answered a question about how they are similar to – and different from – Pete and Bill, respectively.

“Philosophically, we’re going to share a lot of the same beliefs,” Brennan Carroll said. “One of his main beliefs is, ‘be yourself,’ so there are going to be some differences there, for sure. I am my mother’s son. … There’s going to be great energy when you see us run around on the field.”

“We definitely have similarities. I’ve got a job and he doesn’t,” Steve Belichick said, to laughter. “He knows that. I look up to my dad. He’s a mentor to me. But I’m myself. Like B.C. said, excited to get out on the field and work with these guys and work with kids, and recruit kids. Just going to be myself. I’m not going to try to be him.”

Like his father, Belichick is a man of few words, at least publicly, though his dry sense of humor came through more than once. Asked for his most striking experience as a first-time college coach, Belichick remarked: “I’d say probably FaceTiming high-school kids has been new. I’d never done that before. Didn’t have that when I was in high school, and have had no reason to do it since.”

I asked if he’d ever considered taking a college job before this offseason, considering he’d spent the previous 12 seasons on his dad’s staff in New England.

“I just like to coach,” he said. “So I didn’t really have an agenda or anything like that. This was the best opportunity for me. I appreciate Jedd giving me a shot.”

Parker Brailsford transferred to Alabama, Geirean Hatchett transferred to Oklahoma and Landen Hatchett is still recovering from a knee injury … so who is going to play center when the Huskies begin spring practices?

“Our first meeting, I walked in and asked, ‘who plays center?’ A couple guys raised their hands,” said Carroll, who is also the team’s offensive line coach. “‘That’s not right. Everybody put your hand up. We’re all playing center.’”

More specifically, Carroll said, redshirt freshman Zachary Henning and redshirt freshman walk-on Parker Cross would get snaps at the position. Carroll also mentioned Hatchett and fifth-year junior Gaard Memmelaar as potential center candidates, though each are recovering from injuries and unavailable this spring.

Fisch said the Huskies are at 79 scholarships, which is three more than my count, factoring in the recent departure of running back Will Nixon (a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday that he left the program). The coach also said linebacker Drew Fowler is the only walk-on who has been put on scholarship.

“There is no depth chart, because there is no depth chart,” Fisch said. “When there is a depth chart, we will certainly pass it out to you guys. But right now, we expect the 79 scholarship players (and) the 21 walk-ons that are in this program to go out there … and give every single thing they have to get involved and be a part of this football team.”

This article was originally published at OnMontlake.com, the home for Christian Caple’s full UW Huskies football coverage. Subscribe to On Montlake for full access to in-depth UW coverage.

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