Early DC wish list

By deciding not to retain Nick Holt, Mike Cox, and Jeff Mills, Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian announced his New Year's resolution a day early; it's time to get defensive. Literally. Add to that the departure of Demetrice Martin to UCLA, and Sarkisian is left with a Grand Canyon-sized hole on his defensive staff.

But the choice of a great defensive coordinator can catalyze a move to fill that hole in a hurry.

Obviously with the news barely an hour old there's no way to know exactly what move Sarkisian will make next, but we can glean at least a few things. First, Johnny Nansen is the only remaining member of Washington's defensive staff, but that doesn't make his place secure by any means. He could very well be holding the fort down in recruiting until a new defensive coordinator determines he's the right fit for any plans going forward.

Secondly, Sarkisian is probably going to try and get a big name that he can lure with the title of Assistant Head Coach. He did it with Holt, and it's going to take a hire that size to attract qualified candidates. Third, will Sark lean on the new DC like he did Holt? Holt certainly gave Sark, who is still considered young in the coaching profession, an ear to bend. Fourth, Black Monday - the Monday after the last day of the NFL season - will bring even more firings and guys looking for jobs. Look for next week to be a real feeding frenzy, especially with the NCAA Coaches' convention happening right around the same time. Lastly, it's going to be even tougher to speculate on who will fill the other remaining openings because typically the DC is going to be running point on those hires.

That being said, there's a few defensive coordinator candidates that immediately stand out, and we would expect Sark to at least take a good, long look at these names - if not pursue them vigorously. Again, it's a very early look, but here goes:

1) Rocky Seto - In our opinion, Seto would have to be the front-runner. He's got roots with Sarkisian at USC, and was offered the DC job at UW by Sarkisian before the Huskies finalized the deal with Holt. He's already in Seattle, as an assistant position coach with the Seattle Seahawks under both Sarkisian's and Seto's mentor - Pete Carroll - and I would have to think a move to UW for Seto would come with Carroll's blessing. In a weird twist, could Seto go to UW and Holt to Seattle? Stranger things have happened, that's for sure.

2) Chuck Heater - Chuck isn't an immediate 'logical' choice for Sarkisian, given that he's not on the Pete Carroll coaching tree, but Sarkisian probably will have to branch out a bit on this hire, and we can't think of anyone who is a current DC that makes more sense than Chuck, who is manning that position at Temple. He's got UW ties (including a great grasp of the are for recruiting, where he was Rick Neuheisel's RC at UW), has over 35 years NCAA coaching experience (so he can be a shoulder to lean on for Sark), and has has championship experience, having won a three titles, two with Florida and one with Notre Dame.

3) Mike Stoops - He'd definitely be an out-of-the-box choice, as it would be weird to see the former Arizona head coach patrolling the sidelines for Washington, but he knows the Pac-12, comes in with instant credibility for recruiting, and he clearly understands defense. He's a name everybody would recognize up and down the west coast, but could they get past his sideline antics and combustible behavior? He's a lightning rod no doubt about it, but is Washington a place where he could rebuild his reputation and bring the Huskies' defense back at the same time? It's a thought worth considering.

4) Jack Del Rio - Again, another out-of-the-box suggestion here, and given that he was an NFL head coach for nine years the pricetag won't come cheap, but it certainly doesn't seem like the NFL is in his future again - unless it's as a coordinator. According to the opinions of some that cover the NFL, they think he could be a really good college coach, and because he played at USC he's got instant west coast credibility. But does he want to drop down to college and start as a DC and Assistant HC with the thought of trying to become that head coach if something goes south with the current staff? Again, plenty to chew on with the thought of a guy like Del Rio, who is a hard-nosed competitor and shares the SC link with Sarkisian.

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