The Washington Huskies are now in the market for a new head coach with the news that Steve Sarkisian is bolting for USC. The news is fairly surprising on a lot of levels. Mostly, because it wasn't long ago many had Sarkisian on the hot seat and now an Apple Cup victory later he's upgrading to the USC job. Many also thought USC would land a more high-profile candidate like James Franklin or Chris Petersen.
Regardless, the news on Monday will have considerable impact on the Pac-12 as a whole, including WSU. A lot will depend on who Washington hires to replace Sarkisian. Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reported the initial short list includes Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter, UCLA head coach Jim Mora and Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox. Wilcox is reportedly heading to USC with Sarkisian, but would presumably jump at the chance to be a head coach.
While you could argue he never maximized the potential of his players, there is no question Sarkisian and his staff could recruit. They cleaned up in Washington and won a lot of recruiting battles over WSU. A new coach could certainly pick up where they left off, but that staff had some excellent recruiters.
At least in the short term, Sarkisian leaving Washington could help WSU. On the recruiting front, Rahshead Johnson is one player to keep an eye on. He's verbally committed to Washington, but recently visited WSU. He decommitted from the Huskies only to recommit after talking to the coaching staff. The 4-star wide receiver would be very welcome in Pullman. Of Washington's current commits, safety Drew Lewis, offensive lineman Matt James and defensive end Don Hill also have WSU offers. Current USC defensive end commit Austin Maloata recently visited WSU and could be in play. Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com has more on the potential recruiting impact.
Update: And so it begins
On the field, Sarkisian had quite a bit of success against WSU and probably owes the former coaching staff a very nice holiday gift. He compiled a 34-29 record at Washington, but was just 30-28 when not playing the Cougars. Him leaving Washington could really hurt the Huskies, or depending on the hire, could be a boost. Washington has a very talented roster and the right coach may be able to get more out of those players while also still doing well on the recruiting front.
At least James Franklin is staying out of the Pac-12. We can thank USC for that.
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