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Washington’s Search: Head Coach, Quarterback Duos

Washington Head Coach

Shortly after Kalen DeBoer’s move to Alabama, Will Rogers re-entered the transfer portal after originally committing to Washington in December. He hasn’t announced where he’s going, but it’s expected he follows DeBoer to Tuscaloosa. Players are granted a 30-day window to enter the transfer portal if their head coach is poached to another program. A lot of times, the players they recruited go with them like we are likely to see with DeBoer and Rogers in Seattle. This concept of a coach bringing his players with him is a new, but largely typical, practice in the evolving world of college football. With Washington in the midst of a coaching search, there are some potentially significant head coach/quarterback duos that the Huskies should be after.

Jedd Fisch and Noah Fifita

The current Arizona head coach took over the Wildcats program in 2021 and promptly went 1-11 that year. Just two seasons later in 2023, Jedd Fisch led Arizona to a 10-3 season. It finished with an Alamo Bowl victory over Oklahoma, and an eleventh-ranked finish in the final AP Poll. The remarkable turnaround helped make Arizona an attractive program for the new Big 12 Conference, while also making Fisch an attractive coaching option for Washington. He’s only been a head coach at the college level for these past three seasons at Arizona. But the turnaround he guided in Tucson was tremendous.  He’s now on Washington’s potential list of head coach targets.

If Washington were to poach Fisch out of Tucson, the quarterback that would likely follow is Noah Fifita. The true freshman quarterback became the Wildcats’ starting quarterback after an injury to Jayden De Laura last season. Fifita ended up taking the Pac-12 by storm. After narrowly losing to Washington and USC, Fifita and Arizona won the final seven games on their schedule including the bowl victory. He threw for 25 touchdowns, and six interceptions, completing 72.4% of his passes. The young quarterback was at his best when he was on the move out of the pocket and made a handful of highlight-worthy plays in his first season as the signal caller. The duo of Fisch and Fifita in Seattle might be exactly what the Huskies need to keep their success going for the next few seasons.

Chris Klieman and Avery Johnson

Another one of the names that immediately began circulating for the Washington head coaching position was Kansas State’s Chris Klieman. Like DeBoer, Klieman began his career in the midwest. He played at Northern Iowa, and his coaching career began there and went through Western Illinois and North Dakota State before he landed in Manhattan. Since 2014, Klieman has been the head coach at North Dakota State and Kansas State. He’s won four FCS National Titles, one Big 12 Title, and has accumulated a record of 111-37. Klieman knows how to win, and has built a consistent winning program in Manhattan. 

One of the players he recruited to Kansas State is quarterback Avery Johnson. The Kansas native was a four-star quarterback in the class of 2023, and Klieman got him to stay home. Johnson was in the mix with Washington and Oregon during his recruitment, making official visits to all three including Kansas State. The young quarterback played in eight games this season with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Johnson’s first start came in the Pop Tarts Bowl where he threw for two scores, 178 yards, and rushed for 71 yards with a touchdown. His performance in his first start caught the attention of many across the country. Johnson played with confidence and looked like a veteran against a top-25 NC State program. The prospect of Klieman as Washington’s next head coach brings the possibility of one of the nation’s top young quarterbacks also heading to the Northwest.

Justin Wilcox and Chandler Rogers

California is a program where it hasn’t always been easy to win. The academic standards of the school make it hard to recruit. But Justin Wilcox has been the Golden Bears’ head coach since 2017 and has guided them to three bowl games. The head coach in Berkeley is a member of the Chris Petersen coaching tree, having been Washington’s defensive coordinator from 2012 to 2013 and Boise State’s defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009. Wilcox is from Oregon and played defensive back at Oregon, making his roots strong in the Northwest. Washington is a place that’s better built for success than Cal, and its move to the Big Ten would give Wilcox great opportunities to fine-tune his defense against the premier defensive conference in the nation. 

In December, Cal landed a highly talented, under-rated quarterback in the transfer portal from North Texas by the name of Chandler Rogers. He finished as the nation’s 19th-leading quarterback with 3,382 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, and five interceptions. Rogers was not heavily recruited out of high school but made a name for himself this season at North Texas. Not many are familiar with Rogers’ game, but he’s a guy who is poised to elevate the Cal offense next season. Especially with some pass-catching talent they also brought in from the transfer portal. With the Washington job open, Wilcox is surely getting a look from the Athletic Department on Montlake. The way the transfer portal works now, Rogers could follow. The duo of Wilcox and Rogers could be exactly what the Huskies need.


Washington Head Coach
Photo courtesy: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


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