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Top Five Candidates for Next Head Coach of Washington Huskies

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Top Five Candidates for Head Coach of Washington Huskies

husky stadium
Joe Nicholson - USA TODAY Sports

With the surprising decision of Steve Sarkisian to leave the Washington Huskies to be the next head coach of the USC Trojans, a very appealing head coaching job is currently on the market. Washington is a very good job in the Pac-12 with a brand new stadium, state-of-the-art facilities, a picturesque campus backdrop that is easy to recruit to, and a roster filled with young and elite talent. The program will have a huge opportunity to make a major impact hire this offseason and should have their pick of excellent coaching candidates.

But the Huskies can’t just pick anybody to be their new head coach. They have been rebuilt into a solid program but haven’t been able to take that “next step” towards becoming a national power once again. There’s history in the Washington program with a national title to their name in not-so-distant past. They need a leader who can get them back to that level with one of the most talent-rich rosters available in the country.

So who will step up and take over this program on the rise? The list of candidates will be long with plenty of good choices for the school to pick from. But for a Washington program that is poised to become the next big thing in the Pac-12, they need a coach who is on that same level and ready to punch through that glass ceiling to challenge the elite hegemony of the Pac-12 North in the Oregon Ducks and Stanford Cardinal.

Who among the candidates will be the next Washington head coach? Let’s count down the top five early choices for the next coach of the Huskies’ program.

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5. Jim Mora, HC UCLA Bruins

jim mora
Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

Jim Mora infamously got himself into hot water as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons when he called the UW job his “dream job” that he would jump at to take. He’s backed off from that stance substantially in recent years, especially since landing the head coaching job with the UCLA Bruins. In two season, Mora has built something special in Westwood that would be difficult to walk away from (especially with a motivated booster base throwing money at him to stay) which makes him jumping ship to UW an unlikely scenario.

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4. Chris Petersen, HC Boise State Broncos

chris petersen
Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

If it’s a job opening in the Pac-12, Chris Petersen is going to be connected to it. He was a finalist for the USC job before backing away despite “mutual interest” the same day that Steve Sarkisian was announced as the new Trojan head coach. While Petersen has always been connected with Pac-12 jobs and never jumped, the timing could be right for him to leave the Boise State Broncos. Things appear to have peaked in Boise with the team slipping in the national rankings this season. If Petersen is looking for a chance to show what he’s capable of in a bigger conference, Washington could be a very appealing job.

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3. Tim DeRuyter, HC Fresno State Bulldogs

tim deruyter
Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Tim DeRuyter is going to be a hot commodity for job openings in the next few years after the job he has done rebuilding the Fresno State Bulldogs over the last two seasons. Fresno has gone 19-5 during his tenure and looked poised to bust the BCS in 2013 before losing to the San Jose State Spartans in their regular season finale. He has shown an ability to build a team quickly and develop talent, particularly on offense, and could be on the move very soon to a major conference job.

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2. Justin Wilcox, DC Washington Huskies

justin wilcox
Steven Bisig - USA TODAY Sports

Since coming to Washington as the defensive coordinator in 2012, Justin Wilcox has completely turned the UW defense around. Before he arrived, Washington was one of the worst defenses in the country. Under Wilcox, however, the team has made huge strides in two seasons and has a defense in 2013 that is as loaded with talent as anyone in the Pac-12. Wilcox is reportedly set to leave UW with Sarkisian to be the defensive coordinator for USC next season but could be lured into staying in Seattle for the head coaching job. Wilcox is a young coach with a track record of success everywhere he has gone and will be a head coach in the near future. Could that future begin in 2014?

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1. Doug Nussmeier, OC Alabama Crimson Tide

doug nussmeier
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Before spending the last two seasons as the offensive coordinator for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, Doug Nussmeier worked under Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator at Washington from 2009 to 2011. He was a highly regarded assistant before spending two years under Saban learning “The Process” and has reportedly expressed a lot of interest in the Washington head coaching job if it became available. It’s now available and Nussmeier has only strengthened his resume. With ties to the region and a passion for the program, Nussmeier makes a lot of sense to take over the Washington program in 2014.