Jedd Fisch arrives as UW football coach after a wild year

My head hasn’t stopped spinning since the end of football season—or the week that followed the end of football season. In a season unlike any other on Montlake, the Huskies went undefeated, beat Oregon (for the second time this season) to win the very last Pac-12 championship ever and then survived Texas in a thrilling Sugar Bowl / College Football Playoff semifinal. That was before Big Blue (Michigan) made us blue in the 34-13 loss in the national championship game.

The Huskies’ richly deserved recognition could have filled up Husky Stadium: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy; the UW offensive line captured the prestigious Joe Moore Award as the best blocking front in the nation; and Coach Kalen DeBoer was the consensus national coach of the year for leading the Huskies to a stunning 14-1 record a mere two years after the pre-DeBoer Huskies stumbled to a 4-8 record.

The highs were so high. But then came a stunner: Two days after the national championship loss to Michigan, DeBoer announced that he was leaving to take the head coaching job at Alabama.

Michael Penix quarterbacks the Huskies against Michigan in the national title game.

While we were trying to catch our breath from all of that, former athletic director Troy Dannen announced two days after DeBoer left that he had hired Jedd Fisch as the new Husky head coach. The well-traveled Fisch brings an impressive resume to the Emerald City from the University of Arizona, where he turned around a moribund Wildcat program in three years. After a 1-11 inaugural season in the desert, Fisch’s Wildcats went 5-7 in 2022 and 10-3 in 2023, the school’s fourth 10-win season ever. That included an eye-opening victory over powerful Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

“We wanted to move quickly but thoroughly and sought out a coach who would build on our foundation, bring energy to the program, has a track record of success, is an elite recruiter and was someone who young men wanted to play for,” Dannen explained. “We found all of those characteristics and more in Jedd Fisch. It became clear through our conversations that he shares our values and our vision for UW Football, and he is the right coach at the right time as we transition to the Big Ten Conference.”

The Huskies are wading into transitions on several fronts: DeBoer’s departure, Fisch’s arrival, the departure of many Husky football players via the transfer portal, graduation or turning pro. That’s on top of the biggest transition of them all—competing in the Big Ten beginning in the fall.

“I don’t think anybody will have experienced as much roster turnover as we will experience here at Washington from the ’23 season to the ’24 season,” Fisch said at his introductory news conference. But if anyone knows how to deal with transition, it’s Fisch, a New Jersey native and Florida-educated coach who has held positions all over college and pro football. “Now,” Fisch said, “the idea in the Big Ten is to win consistently, to play against the Michigans, the Penn States, the Ohio States, the USCs, the Oregons, every single year and compete at their level. At our level.

“That’s where I think Washington becomes a special place.”