It’s been an interesting couple of weeks at Montlake for Sark and his football team. Matthew wrote about the recruiting aspect a few weeks ago and that combined with all of the coaching news has made for an interesting month since the Alamo Bowl. Tonight, I’ll take a look at most of the news (date-by-date fashion) and add a few thoughts to it.
December 14th, 2011 – What Happened: Demetrice Martin, who was the cornerback coach at UW, left to fill the same position at UCLA. He was one of the top recruiters on the Husky staff and his loss was felt immediately in the recruiting realm. Several commits flipped from UW to UCLA and a few other guys dropped the Huskies from their list.
Looking At It Now: It doesn’t seem like a big deal now and, frankly, I think it might help the Huskies. Martin was undoubtedly a good recruiter but I don’t know about his coaching. Maybe we won’t see our corners lack confidence now? Maybe they’ll play a little closer to the receiver. None of the corners have developed under Martin (Q. Rich regressed significantly) and maybe they will under the new coach. Maybe not, but I think it was time for a change at this coaching position anyway.
December 29th, 2011 – What Happened: Kevaire Russel, one of the top recruits in the state, announces that he has verbally committed to Notre Dame over the hometown Huskies. Message boards erupted (I’m talking about you Dawgman) in fury over how Sark can’t recruit. It was a little shocking and interesting to see that the Huskies couldn’t keep a recruit at home.
Looking At It Now: It’s still a bit alarming that a lot of in-state recruits are turning elsewhere but it was never worth freaking out over. The Huskies are still in on several big name guys and will probably end up with a very solid class. I should have saved some of the comments from the Dawgman boards because it’s hilarious how blown out of proportion some were.
December 29th, 2011 – What Happened: The Huskies lost one of the most entertaining, frantic, fascinating football games I’ve ever seen. The Alamo Bowl ended in with Baylor winning 67-56. I still see that score and am astonished. Both defenses were absolutely terrible and both offenses were phenomenal. It’s a shame that a lot of the focus gets put on how horrible the defense was (which I admit, both were horrible) and not put on how good the offenses were. Watching the national title week several weeks later, I couldn’t help think of how entertaining that game was. By the way, the Dawgs and Baylor would score touchdowns on LSU and Alabama.
Looking At It Now: You always want to win. Let me start off by saying that. A bowl win is nice because trophies are cool and you don’t want to have 67 points scored on you on national TV. This game may be responsible for what all happened next and what happened next may be what takes the Dawgs back to the top of the Pac-12.
December 31st, 2011 – What Happened: Sark fired Nick Holt, Mike Cox and Jeff Mills from his staff. The Alamo Bowl seemed to be the final straw with the defense and Sark had enough. It wasn’t much of a surprise and speculation quickly turned to candidates.
Looking At It Now: It had to happen and it did.
January 2nd, 2012 – What Happened: The Huskies hired away Justin Wilcox from the Tennessee Volunteers, he was their defensive coordinator. He brought Peter Sirmon along with him and he will coach the linebackers. This seemed to be Sark’s first choice and he made the move quickly. People around the country were impressed by the hire of the up and coming DC and his right-hand recruiting man.
Looking At It Now: When Sark gave Husky fans a day to speculate about who the new guy might be, Justin Wilcox was my top choice. Needless to say, I was pleased with the hire. Wilcox has an impressive resume and seems to know what he’s doing. His players seemed to love him and he was successful at both of his stops. He may leave for a head coaching gig soon, but that means that he’d have been successful. I’m all for this hire and it seems like everyone else is too.
January 12th, 2012 – What Happened: The Huskies hired Keith Heyward to be their new defensive backs coach. He is a younger guy who had the same position at Oregon State. There’s a theme to these hires and it’s that they’re all younger guys. He was said to be one of the best recruiters on the OSU staff. I don’t have any examples of his coaching ability.
Looking At It Now: I don’t have a lot of basis for this but I think this might be the most underrated hire the Huskies made. It seems like this one was forgotten after all of the news. Heyward is well liked by recruits and may steal a few from Oregon State this year. Again, I don’t know much about his coaching ability but he was loved at OSU and was said to be a good hire by many experts.
January 16th, 2012 – What Happened: The Huskies hired Tosh Lupoi away from the California Golden Bears. He was their defensive line coach and a pretty successful one. He is said to be the best recruiter on the west coast and everyone was impressed with the hire. Many Cal recruits were shocked and said to be opening their recruitment back up.
Looking At It Now: Well, these last couple only happened a few days ago so there’s not a ton to add except for my opinion. This is a great hire. Lupoi probably can’t live up to the hype he has come with because I’ve never seen an assistant coach have so much hype aside from Ed Orgeron, who is the other top recruiting assistant in the Pac-12. It was the best defensive-line coaching hire Sark could have realistically made. It was the final piece of, what I consider, the best staff he could have put together.
January 16th 2012 – What Happened: Nick Montana, the heralded quarterback, decided to transfer from the UW. He came to the Huskies with much fanfare and didn’t perform very well in his only start (not that it was all his fault). From what I saw he has a future as a college quarterback. In fact, from what I saw he could start for Alabama or LSU and win a national championship.
Looking At It Now: It was inevitable, really. The guy wants to play and wasn’t going to have much of a chance here. Watching his demeanor in practice, I was never a huge fan of his but he’s got talent and is a smart kid. I hope he does well in the future.
January 17th – What Happened: The Huskies offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier, left UW and took the same role at Alabama. It’s hard to blame him, he’ll get to call his own plays for the defending national champions and he’ll get a raise. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, Nussmeier was a great coach and they had to fill another position in their staff. This was the date it became official, it was known quite sometime in advance.
Looking At It Now: Nussmeier is a good coach and deserves a ton of credit for the progress Jake Locker and Keith Price made. With that being said, everyone knows this is Sark’s offense. He is the creative young mind and he has his system. I would be surprised if the Huskies felt a huge impact by the loss of Nussmeier. Best of luck to him at Alabama.
January 18th – What Happened: The Huskies poached another Cal coach in Eric Kiesau to fill the role of offensive coordinator. He’s another guy who’s said to be a good recruiter. He was the wide receiver coach at Cal and will coach the quarterbacks here. Cedric Dozier, another top recruit in Washington who committed to Cal, is said to be reconsidering because of this news.
Looking At It Now: Another good hire, although I don’t really think it’s an upgrade from Nussmeier. Time will tell what Kiesau will do on the recruiting trail and I’ll be interested to see if there’s any drop off in the development of the quarterbacks. I would guess no, because of the presence of Sark.
Wow, a lot has happened. When I put it all out like this I’m somewhat amazed. So, where is the program now compared to about a month ago? It’s hard to tell without a game being played, of course. Everyone thinks the staff is better than it was. The recruiting sure seems like it’s going to gain steam at some point in the next couple of weeks, if not days. With all that in mind, I think the program is trending up. These hires have given the Huskies some steam but, as we learned with Nick Holt, some hires aren’t as glamorous as they first seem. Sark did the best that he could, but you just never know.
Two weeks until signing day! I love that day. For now, be careful out there in the snow. It’s a little crazy out there. Go Dawgs!
Oh, and Nick Holt Jr. transferred to Montana!