Jan 12, 2024 - Sports

UW football coach DeBoer is leaving; Jedd Fisch will replace him

Kalen DeBoer at left in a black sweatshirt with "Washington" written across the front with Jedd Fisch shown at right in a red sweatshirt with his arms crossed.

Kalen DeBoer (left) and Jedd Fisch (right). Photos: Alika Jenner and Chris Coduto/Getty Images

The University of Washington has hired a new head football coach after Kalen DeBoer agreed last week to take over head coaching duties at the University of Alabama.

Driving the news: The UW announced Sunday it would replace DeBoer with Jedd Fisch, who has spent the past three seasons as the University of Arizona's head football coach.

Why it matters: DeBoer recently led the Washington Huskies to the College Football Playoff championship game, helping the team win 25 of its 28 matchups the past two seasons.

  • That's a big turnaround from the 4–8 season the Huskies had in 2021 (even though they ultimately lost this year's championship game to Michigan).

Yes, but: Fisch also oversaw big improvements at Arizona, taking the Wildcats from a one-win season in 2021 to a 10–3 overall record this year.

Catch up quick: In Alabama, DeBoer will replace Nick Saban, who announced his retirement Wednesday.

  • At a press conference Saturday, DeBoer said he was attracted to "the tradition and the history" of Alabama's program, which he called "second to none."
  • DeBoer added that Alabama was "one of the few places, maybe the only place" that would have caused him to consider leaving UW.

Background: Under Saban, Alabama won nine SEC titles and six national championships in 17 seasons, ESPN reported.

  • The University of Washington, meanwhile, claims only two college football championships in all of its history.
  • Both those UW titles — from 1991 and 1960 — are shared with other teams, dating to an era when college football championships were determined by polls that didn't always agree.

What they're saying: Shortly before boarding a plane to Seattle this weekend, Fisch said his goal is to help the Huskies win their first outright national title next year.

  • "Let's go get that championship we've been talking about," Fisch said in a video posted by UW's football program on Sunday.

Between the lines: Although DeBoer was in the middle of negotiating a contract extension at Washington, during his time there he wasn't one of college football's best-paid coaches.

  • According to USA Today, DeBoer's $4.2 million annual salary at UW made him the 44th best-paid coach in college football.
  • By contrast, Saban's salary at Alabama — more than $11 million — made him the top-paid NCAA football coach.

By the numbers: It wasn't immediately clear how much DeBoer will be making in his new role at Alabama, but sources told ESPN the deal will more than double his salary.

  • That would make DeBoer one of the 10 highest-paid coaches in the top tier of college football, the network reported.

Meanwhile, Fisch's new contract with UW will pay him an average of $7.75 million per year over seven years, per multiple reports.

  • That's "far and away the richest contract in UW athletics history," wrote sports writer Christian Caple of On Montlake, a site dedicated to covering the Huskies.

What's next: With several Husky football stars planning to leave for the NFL, the 2024 season is looking to be an uncertain one for Washington.

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