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UW, Kalen DeBoer have initiated contract talks as coaching carousel intensifies

Head coach Kalen DeBoer of the Washington Huskies looks on during the first quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Husky Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.   (Getty Images)
By Mike Vorel Seattle Times

SEATTLE – As the college football season nears its conclusion, coaching carousel season is hitting full stride.

In the space between No. 5 Washington’s 35-28 win over No. 16 Utah (7-3) on Saturday and coach Kalen DeBoer’s news conference at 11:30 a.m. Monday, Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher, Mississippi State fired Zach Arnett, Boise State fired Andy Avalos, and San Diego State’s Brady Hoke announced his intention to retire.

In a lucrative game of musical chairs, no one wants to lose.

And on Monday DeBoer — who is 21-2 in less than two full seasons in Seattle, including an active 17-game winning streak — was asked if he sees himself at Washington for the long haul.

“Yeah, this is a great place,” he said. “Listen: I keep bringing it up, but my family loves it here. There’s a lot of other reasons, too. My daughter [Alexis DeBoer], I guess she does or doesn’t love me talking about [her blossoming softball career after recently signing with Washington out of Bellevue High School].

“But there’s just a lot of things that I love about this place. This is a championship football program. I’ve said it since Day One. It’s got the bones of championships. I love the way we’ve been accepted into this place. It’s a great place to coach. Like I said earlier, [new UW athletic director Troy Dannen] is doing everything he can to help myself and the staff continue this journey that we’re on.”

While help can manifest in multiple ways, DeBoer is referring to money. After the 49-year-old received a raise — from $3.2 million to $4.2 million annually — and a two-year extension (through 2028) last November, another one may be on the way.

When asked if Dannen and DeBoer’s representatives have begun negotiating another extension, the Husky coach said: “Yeah. Troy’s been very intentional with that, and I’m very appreciative of that. It is hard. The question was asked earlier [about maintaining focus during the season]. You’re in the middle of a great season like we have and I’m trying to keep the focus on that, but you also understand that those things need to continue to happen for our program to continue to move forward.”

Meanwhile, UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb may move forward, by moving someplace else. Grubb — whose salary spiked from $1.02 million to $2 million last offseason — has previously confirmed his desire to become a head coach, and opportunities may soon arise. On Monday, The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman listed Grubb as a leading candidate to succeed Hoke at San Diego State.

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But Grubb’s immediate priority is leading an offense that leads the nation in passing (378 yards per game) and completions of 10 yards or more (149), and ranks third in yards per play (7.75), fourth in yards per pass attempt (9.9), fourth in sacks allowed (7), fifth in scoring (41 points per game), fifth in passing touchdowns (29), sixth in total offense (503.9 yards per game) and seventh in first downs (25 per game) … against No. 10 Oregon State (8-2) on Saturday.

“I don’t. I don’t, and I mean that sincerely. I just don’t,” Grubb said, when asked how he balances outside interest with his current responsibilities. “I have people [an agent] that take care of that, and honestly I’m lucky that way, that I don’t have to worry about it. I don’t even think about it. I’m blessed that all I have to worry about is scoring points and getting touchdowns for Washington, and that’s exactly what I’m focused on.”