Washington hired Arizona’s Jedd Fisch to succeed Kalen DeBoer as the next coach of the Huskies on Sunday, Jan. 14.
A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that Fisch had agreed to a seven-year contract that will pay him an average of $7.75 million annually.
Less than a week after playing for the national championship, the Huskies moved quickly to fill the vacancy created when DeBoer left for Alabama on Friday. DeBoer’s contract called for a $12 million buyout paid to Washington if he left, and it will cost the school $5.5 million to hire Fisch, the person said.
Washington athletic director Troy Dannen was tasked with his first big decision since taking over in October and tried to rapidly provide stability for a football program coming off its best season in more than three decades and heading for the Big Ten next season.
Dannen targeted Fisch on Saturday and flew to Tucson, Arizona, on Sunday to complete the deal and bring the Huskies new head coach with him back to Seattle.
“Just can’t wait to see you, meet you, meet our players. Let’s go get that championship we’ve been talking about,” Fisch said in a video message he posted on social media to Huskies Nation.
Washington scheduled a news conference to introduce Fisch for Tuesday.
He also posted a thank you note to Arizona.
Fisch has received rave reviews for his work at Arizona. He took over a program in 2021 that had sunk to the bottom of the Pac-12, and had the Wildcats competing for a conference title in 2023. The 11th-ranked Wildcats finished 10-3, were third in the Pac-12 standings and beat Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.
Arizona was expected to have a conference championship-contending team as it entered the Big 12 in 2024. Now, with the transfer portal open for Wildcats players for 30 days, the question becomes who will follow Fisch to Washington?
Fisch’s move comes as Arizona tries to shore up financial difficulties before its move to the Big 12 next year.
Athletic director Dave Heeke announced a plan last Thursday to help the school recover from a university-wide $240 million miscalculation of projected cash on hand. The plan includes hiring freezes and a pause on all major construction projects with the athletic department still on the hook to repay a $55 million loan issued during the pandemic.
There was talk about of possible contract extension for Fisch, but it wasn’t completed.
Arizona is the first head coaching gig for Fisch, who bounced between the college and the professional game as an assistant for most of his career, including a stop in Seattle as quarterbacks coach for Pete Carroll and the Seahawks in 2010. Fisch’s offensive coordinator at Arizona has been Carroll’s son, Brennan.
Fisch is 16-21 in his three seasons with the Wildcats, improving the record each year.
Fisch, 47, is the fourth head coach at Washington since the 2019 season. Chris Petersen stepped away from coaching following the 2019 season. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake replaced Petersen but was fired with two games left in his second season, leading to the hiring of DeBoer after the 2021 season.
Landing Fisch concludes a tumultuous week for Washington on a high note.
The Huskies were beaten by Michigan 34-13 in the national championship game last Monday, the first of a series of losses in a five-day span. A significant number of key contributors from that 14-1 team declared for the NFL draft, including a few players that were thought to be considering a return for 2024.
But the big blow came Friday when DeBoer left after two seasons and 25 victories to take over at Alabama following the retirement of Nick Saban.
Washington fans thought they were getting long-term stability when DeBoer was hired, but the success over his two seasons raised his profile enough to make the short list for the Crimson Tide job when Saban stepped away.
Arizona thought the same with Fisch, and now it is back in the market for a coach.
“Arizona Football is well positioned for future success and championship excellence, and I am confident we will attract a new leader who will continue the positive trajectory of our nationally ranked football program. The national search for a new head coach is already underway, and I will refrain from any public comments until our next head coach is announced,” Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement.
San Jose State coach Brent Brennan was a candidate for the job when Fisch was hired to replace Kevin Sumlin. Brennan, who was a graduate assistant at Arizona in 2000, has been at San Jose State for seven seasons and taken the Spartans to bowl games in three of the last four years.
AP Sports Writers Tim Booth in Seattle and John Marshall in Phoenix contributed to this report.