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Sports >  UW football

Who will the UW Huskies target to replace football coach Jimmy Lake? Here are possible candidates

Nov. 15, 2021 Updated Mon., Nov. 15, 2021 at 4:19 p.m.

Bob Stoops coaches Oklahoma against Baylor in a 2015 game in Waco, Texas.  (Associated Press)
Bob Stoops coaches Oklahoma against Baylor in a 2015 game in Waco, Texas. (Associated Press)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

Washington needs a new football coach.

And there’s no shortage of intriguing names.

But who will the Huskies target? Will they make a big swing (that requires big money)? Will they attach their hopes to an up-and-comer with a high ceiling but less experience in the role? Will they value a coach with regional ties, both in coaching and recruiting?

The answers are coming.

But while we wait, here’s a master list of possible Husky coaching candidates.

The big swings

Bob Stoops

Age: 61.

Current position: Free agent.

The pitch: If UW is willing to spend the money and Stoops has interest, the pitch is pretty clear. “Big Game Bob” went 190-48 in 18 seasons at Oklahoma, winning a national championship as well as 10 Big 12 titles. His Sooners – who hadn’t qualified for a bowl game for four consecutive seasons before his arrival – recorded double-digit wins in 14 of his 18 seasons. He doesn’t have experience coaching on the West Coast, but that likely wouldn’t be a disqualifying factor.

Chris Petersen

Age: 57.

Current position: Free agent.

The pitch: Remember this guy? Petersen went 55-26 in six seasons at UW from 2014 to 2019. He’s 147-38 in 14 seasons as coach, a proven winner. Moreover, we know UW athletic director Jen Cohen admires and respects Petersen, and he understands how to get it done at UW. But after stepping down two years ago, has anything changed? Is Petersen ready to throw himself completely into coaching (and equally importantly, recruiting)?

Dave Aranda

Age: 45.

Current position: Baylor coach (second season).

The pitch: This is a longshot, considering Aranda is possibly the most coveted coach on the market. In his second season at Baylor the Bears are 8-2 and ranked No. 11 in the nation, having just upset undefeated Oklahoma. Aranda is a proven defensive coordinator who is excelling in his first opportunity as a coach. The problem? USC, LSU and others likely agree.

Dave Clawson

Age: 54.

Current position: Wake Forest coach (eighth season).

The pitch: Clawson is a master of reclamation projects – turning Wake Forest, Bowling Green, Richmond and Fordham into winners. The Demon Deacons were 3-9 in his first two years and are 9-1 this season. Would Clawson, who has never coached on the West Coast, pursue a new challenge?

Doug Pederson

Age: 53.

Current position: Free agent.

The pitch: Pederson won a Super Bowl as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017. He was also born in Bellingham and attended Ferndale High School. On the other hand, Pederson has never coached in college. But hey, he would certainly qualify as a big swing.

Tom Herman

Age: 46.

Current position: Offensive analyst and special-projects coach, Chicago Bears (first season).

The pitch: Herman is 54-22 as a coach at Houston and Texas. He’s an innovative offensive mind and a dynamic recruiter. But would his personality fit in Seattle, having never coached on the West Coast?

Todd Monken

Age: 55.

Current position: Georgia offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (second season).

The pitch: So you’re saying you have an offense problem? Monken can help. He has served as the offensive coordinator for Georgia, the Cleveland Browns, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oklahoma State. He was also just 13-25 in three seasons as Southern Mississippi’s coach from 2013 to 2015. But Monken is undoubtedly one of the hottest assistants in the country.

Kellen Moore

Age: 33.

Current position: Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator (third season).

The pitch: Let’s be honest: Cohen probably won’t hire another coordinator without head-coaching experience. But … Moore is one of the NFL’s rising coordinators, could address UW’s offensive woes, grew up in the state and would almost certainly have Petersen’s recommendation. So there’s that, at least.

The up-and-comers

Kalen DeBoer

Age: 47.

Current position: Fresno State coach (second season).

The pitch: DeBoer has led Fresno State (and former UW QB Jake Haener) to an 8-3 record in his second season, he’s an innovative offensive mind, and he has experience coaching and recruiting in California. Though he hasn’t won as a coach at the Power Five level, DeBoer may be a viable option.

Billy Napier

Age: 42.

Current position: Louisiana Lafayette coach (fourth season).

The pitch: Napier has led the Ragin’ Cajuns to a 30-5 record in the past three seasons. He’s also a respected offensive coach with experience at Arizona State, Alabama, Colorado State and Clemson. There are pieces that would potentially fit.

Jamey Chadwell

Age: 44.

Current position: Coastal Carolina coach (third season).

The pitch: Chadwell has resurrected a Coastal Carolina program that went 5-7 in 2019 but is 19-3 in its past two seasons. Like many others on this list, he’s also considered a rising offensive mind. On the other hand, he has never served as a Power Five coach or strayed from the East Coast.

The regional ties

Kalani Sitake

Age: 46.

Current position: BYU coach (sixth season).

The pitch: Sitake’s first four seasons at BYU left much to be desired, but the Cougars are 19-3 in their past 22 games and 4-0 against Pac-12 opponents this season. The 46-year-old has extensive experience on the West Coast and could be a recruiting asset.

Joe Moorhead

Age: 48.

Current position: Oregon offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (second season).

The pitch: Moorhead is one of the best offensive coordinators in the country, and pulling him from Oregon would weaken UW’s primary rival. He also has legitimate experience as a coach, having gone 14-12 at Mississippi State (a difficult place to win) in 2018 and 2019.

Jay Norvell

Age: 58.

Current position: Nevada coach (fifth season).

The pitch: Norvell has pulled off the impressive feat of turning Nevada into a winning program, with a 29-16 record in his past four seasons. He also developed a standout quarterback in Carson Strong and has coached in the Pac-12 at Arizona State and UCLA.

Jonathan Smith

Age: 42.

Current position: Oregon State coach (fourth season).

The pitch: Smith may not want to leave his alma mater. But the former UW offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach understands how to build an effective Pac-12 offense (and has won big in Seattle). Smith wouldn’t be the sexiest hire, but he might be the right one.

Justin Wilcox

Age: 45.

Current position: California coach (fifth season).

The pitch: Wilcox is just 24-27 at Cal, but it seemed the Golden Bears were ready to surge before COVID-19 hit. He has experience as UW’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013 and extensive West Coast ties. Wilcox’s reputation as a defensive coach is sparkling. But like Lake, much would hinge on his offensive-coordinator hire.

Jeff Choate

Age: 51.

Current position: Texas co-defensive coordinator/inside-linebackers coach (first season).

The pitch: Choate served as Petersen’s defensive-line coach at UW in 2014 and 2015 and later impressed as Montana State’s coach, leading the Bobcats to a 19-9 record in his final two seasons. Still, his lack of success at Texas this fall (and lack of Power Five coaching experience) may be too much to overcome.

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