University of Washington Football Narrows the Field of Head Coaching Candidates

John BerkowitzSenior Analyst IDecember 1, 2008

There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes as we roll into a new week.


1. Jim Mora

First of all, as of last night the Jim Mora rumors are still alive and well.

As we all know, this one has taken on a life of its own over the past couple of years. Ever since Mora stated—in the middle of a playoff run—that he would leave his NFL job to coach the Huskies, the fan base has taken it as a literal statement—even though Mora later stated he was joking around. This one won't die until he or someone else takes the job.

Some rumors were floating that he had accepted the job, and that it would be announced between now and next Monday after all the details have been worked out. That, of course, is a rehash of the same thing we have been hearing for some time now, and I would take that with a huge boulder of salt. 

I like Mora—but my gut tells me he is sticking with the 'Hawks, since the AD continues to interview other candidates.


2. Brian Kelly

Kelly is a very serious candidate, and it is rumored that he may be in Seattle as early as Wednesday for a formal interview.

The Bearcats play Hawaii this coming weekend, and have clinched the Big East title. So coming to Seattle on the way isn't exactly a stretch by any means.

We have heard that Notre Dame or Boston College would be his dream job, which is a logical assumption for a nice Catholic guy from New England. A pro-Notre Dame report says Kelly already has said no to UW. Take that with a huge grain of salt—even though it looks like Weis may be fired this coming Friday.

Kelly, like Hill, is a good friend of Saban, and the UW job has a lot more chance for longevity than Notre Dame does. An 8-4 record will get you fired at Notre Dame, while it will get you an extension—or at least a roll-over year—at Washington.


3. Pat Hill

If offered, Pat Hill will accept the job. Hill is a solid coach who needs a change of scenery after 12 underfunded years in Fresno. But he didn't help himself with a blowout loss at the hands Boise State last week.

In a perfect world, Fresno would be looking for someone to replace him, but the school lacks the money to buy him out. Most Fresno fans regard UW's interest and a subsequent hiring as a blessing.

Hill issued a statement to the press that his interview went well.


4. Kyle Whittingham

Utah is likely headed to a BCS bowl, and conventional wisdom says it is unlikely that UW will be able to pry an LDS coach from an LDS state.

From a coaching perspective, Whittingham would be a good philosophical fit at Washington. One silly rumor had Whittingham on campus last week watching a practice.


5. Chris Petersen

The door is slightly cracked from what we hear this weekend, but I think UW is way past the slightly-cracked-door stage when it comes to making a decision.

Petersen is a solid coac,h and the big win over Fresno and an undefeated season make him a highly desirable candidate. The negative is his penchant for privacy. That isn't exactly a good fit for a program about to emerge from four years of being in the dark ages.


6. Mike Leach

The king of quirky is now available to talk if Washington is interested. There are things I like about Leach and things I don't. A couple of glaring ones would be the absence of a strong defense and a dominant running game. You need to commit to the run and defense to win in Seattle.

He also has a mixed relationship with the media, despite the pirate image.


Next Up: California

With all the coaching news going on, it is still hard to believe that there is still one more game left to play this season. Finishing the season in Berkeley is going to be another giant nail in the coaching career of Tyrone Willingham.

This one should get ugly early, and stay ugly as the players and coaches really don't have much left to play for. The Bears are finishing the season on the upswing. Look for them to try to rub the Huskies' nose in the turf to avenge a loss to UW last season.


Husky Basketball

I was in Los Angeles for a funeral this weekend, so I missed a fine Washington performance against Pacific, which resulted in a 72-54 win over a perennial NCAA tournament team. The Huskies were led by Quincy Pondexter, who had one of the better games of his up-and-down career at Washington.

This game, and the close loss to nationally-ranked Florida, show that the Huskies are getting better every game.  They should be capable of an upper-division finish in the Pac-10 this season.


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