Among the latest of the "lots of people" UW has discussed the job with, sources said, is Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, whom sources said flew to Seattle on Monday to meet with UW officials.
Washington president Mark Emmert didn’t want to say much about the school’s search for a new coach Tuesday afternoon, but he made one guarantee.
“We’re moving along and making some good progress, talking to lots of people, which is what we wanted,” he said. “I think we will be able to resolve this in the near future, but I’m not going to tell you what I mean by near future. But I’m really confident we are going to have a coach in place before the LSU game.”
The latter, of course, was a joking reference to UW’s season opener next year.
And among the latest of the “lots of people” UW has discussed the job with, sources said, is Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, whom sources said flew to Seattle on Monday to meet with UW officials.
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Leach has been at Texas Tech nine years and led the Red Raiders to an 11-1 record this season, and on Tuesday was named Big 12 Coach of the Year.
But after news of his visit to Seattle leaked, Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he’s preparing to offer Leach an extension and a raise, though Myers wouldn’t confirm or deny that Leach had interviewed with UW. The paper said Leach is due to make at least $2.65 million next season on his current deal, which runs through 2010.
Leach is 76-38 at Texas Tech and has led the Red Raiders to a bowl game each of his nine seasons. He is known for his innovative passing offense, which this year helped quarterback Graham Harrell move into Heisman Trophy consideration.
One coach off the list is Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly, who announced Tuesday that he intends to stay put, stating that intention at a news conference alongside athletic director Mike Thomas as the school announced plans for a massive stadium renovation.
Another coach whom sources also insist can just about be crossed off is Jim Mora, who is in line to be the next coach of the Seahawks. One source said that while UW has talked with Mora — and it’s thought is still interested in him — there have never been any serious conversations as Mora is thought intent on staying with the Seahawks.
Another coach who could be edging closer to being off the list is Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. Utah’s defensive coordinator, Gary Andersen, had a second interview for the head coaching job at Utah State. Some feel he wouldn’t do that if he thought Whittingham was leaving, because he would be a logical candidate to succeed Whittingham at Utah. Whittingham is also in line for a raise and extension.
Possibly back in the picture is Boise State’s Chris Petersen. He has previously stated he would likely not be interested in the UW job. But talks for a contract extension have stalled, according to The Idaho Statesman, and he also had been thought to covet the Oregon job. The Ducks on Tuesday, however, installed offensive coordinator Chip Kelly as the coach-in-waiting upon Mike Bellotti’s retirement and ascension to athletic director.
And still in the mix is Fresno State’s Pat Hill, who interviewed with UW on Saturday.
Locker on the mend
Washington quarterback Jake Locker said his recovery from his broken thumb is a “slow process” but that he will be ready for the beginning of spring practice.
Locker broke his right thumb while throwing a block in a game against Stanford on Sept. 27.
He originally hoped to return for the final game or two but said Tuesday that was “wishful thinking.”
He said it wasn’t known how complicated his injury was until surgery was completed and that he would need to be in a cast for eight weeks.
“Originally we thought we’d be able to do a surgery and have it in a cast and not be in a cast as long and be able to get out and play toward the end,” Locker said. “But being in the cast so long, all your joints stiffen up and that’s what I am working on right now, is getting that back.”
Locker, however, said he shouldn’t have any long-term negative impact from the injury and should be back for spring practice.
“At this point, it’s just doing everything I can to make sure I do the best … to get it back to full strength and we will deal with whatever limitations we have at that point,” Locker said.
Locker is on the advisory committee for a new coach, but he said the committee hasn’t met since its one and only meeting late last month.
“We are all at the same point you guys are, just waiting for them to narrow it down and decide who they are going to seriously start looking at,” Locker said.
Asked if he has a preference in a style of coach, Locker said, “To be honest, I don’t really.”
But asked if a more fiery coach might be a good idea, Locker agreed.
“I think we need a guy who will get up and get in your face and might challenge you more outwardly in the future,” Locker said. “So we will see.”
• Safety Victor Aiyewa was named to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team with a 3.67 GPA in pre-science. Safety Tripper Johnson was named to the second team.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.