Who is most likely to take over as the next head coach for the Washington Huskies?

We normally try not to concern ourselves with the coaching hires of other teams, but when it’s happening at a school that directly affects the Oregon Ducks, we’re going to take notice.

That obviously was the case earlier this week when the Alabama Crimson Tide were looking to replace Nick Saban — a hire that we were right on from the very start — and it is the case once again as the Washington Huskies look to replace Kalen DeBoer, who took his talents south to Tuscaloosa for the 2024 season.

The Huskies need to make a big-time hire, but the odds may be stacked against them. Many of the best players from the Pac-12 championship team in 2023 have announced they are heading to the NFL this offseason. A handful of others have entered the transfer portal. On top of that, Washington is now late to board the coaching carousel in college football. While the job could be big enough to lure top coaches from other schools, it will not exactly be easy. Washington is headed to the Big Ten next season, and the cupboards are looking relatively bare.

So who ultimately might the Huskies be able to land? These are a few candidates that we are hearing are in the running:

Arizona HC Jedd Fisch

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If you’re looking for head coaches who have experience turning around dismal situations, Jedd Ficsch might be at the top of the list after what he’s been able to do at Arizona. Fisch took over a program riding a 12-game losing streak in 2021, and he led the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and No. 11 ranking this past season. The main question here is about whether Fisch would want the job. Arizona should be among the top teams in the Big 12 this year, and there’s a good chance a spot at his alma mater, Florida, could open in the near future.

Houston HC Willie Fritz

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Though he just took over the Houston Cougars in December, Fritz might look to jump ship quickly if offered a bigger job in Washington. Before going to Houston, Fritz was at Tulane since 2016 where he did a great job turning that into a nationally relevant program. He went 54-47 with the Green Wave. It is definitely a hurdle to hire him since he just took the Houston job, but who knows what would happen if Washington offered.

USC QB Coach Kliff Kingsbury

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Kliff Kingsbury’s name has popped up in the coaching search for Washington, and I’ve been told he is getting some attention from the officials in Seattle. Kingsbury spent this last season as an offensive analyst and QB coach for the USC Trojans. Before that, he was the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals and the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It would certainly be a splash hire if Washington went in this direction.

Washington OC Ryan Grubb

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Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb is probably the guy who makes the most sense to take over for Kalen DeBoer. But there is a serious question whether he will follow to Alabama. Before the 2023 season, Alabama tried hard to get Grubb to Tuscaloosa as the offensive coordinator, but he turned them down to stay with DeBoer, his long-time colleague. So will he go to Alabama to stay with DeBoer, or will he take over his own program in Seattle?

Kansas HC Lance Leipold

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Lance Leipold has done an incredible job turning around Kansas, so it would come as no surprise to see Washington try to bring him to Seattle. He won six Division III national titles at Wisconsin-Whitewater before leading Buffalo into the Top 25. Leipold then turned around the worst Power Five program, going from 2-10 to 6-7 to 9-4 and a No. 23 final ranking.

California HC Justin Wilcox

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Justin Wilcox has a great deal of experience coaching on the West Coast, and he has spent time in Washington, serving as the defensive coordinator for the Huskies last decade. It’s no secret Washington is a much better job than Cal, and with the Huskies heading to the Big Ten while the Golden Bears go to the ACC, Wilcox could seriously consider a change if offered.

UNLV HC Barry Odom

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After spending almost two decades with the Missouri Tigers, Odom did an incredible job of turning around the UNLV Rebels in 2023, going 9-5 with a team that hadn’t seen success in a long time. It could have been enough to land him a premiere job at Washington, leading the Huskies into the Big Ten in 2024.

Story originally appeared on Ducks Wire