College football coaching legend Nick Saban shocked the world when he announced his retirement earlier this week. A few days later, it was revealed that Kalen DeBoer — who took the Washington football program back to prosperity and to a CFP appearance in just his second year — would succeed the future Hall of Famer.
Since then, multiple candidates have surfaced on the Huskies radar. The Athletic's Bruce Feldman mentioned UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch, and Kansas head coach Lance Leipold as top contenders to replace DeBoer.
Leipold has been in the mix for several jobs over the past two years, such as Nebraska, Wisconsin, and most recently, Michigan State. He cracked down that he wanted to remain a Jayhawk for life when his name was hot in Michigan State talks. On the Hawk Talk radio show in November, he said, "It is our plan and expectation that [me and my wife] want to be here, and this is going to be the last job we have."
Despite this, he has still been mentioned as a potential nominee for the UW positions by several outlets. Now, there might be more of a reason for Kansas football fans to worry about where his future stands. He was rumored to have been in contract extension talks, but have they stalled because he is holding out for something better?
Jedd Fisch, Lance Leipold considered leading options in Washington football head coaching search
Feldman's aforementioned article listed OC Ryan Grubb as someone who could be at the helm in Seattle. However, in the midst of the rumors that he could be the next Husky head coach, he dropped a bombshell by announcing he would not be returning to UW in any capacity next year, let alone a head coach.
The others cited in Feldman's piece were K-State's Chris Klieman, Iowa State's Matt Campbell, and Bryan Harsin. But those three don't seem to be at the front of the job search. Many believe it will come down to Jedd Fisch and Lance Leipold.
Fisch has turned around Arizona's football program for the better, similar to what Leipold has done in Lawrence. In fact, the two coaches have had similar paths since they arrived at their respective jobs in 2021 — a poor season with rough patches to begin the journey, a mediocre second year, and a much-improved third season.
Of course, the glaring difference between Fisch and Leipold is their age. The Arizona coach is 47 years old, and the latter is 59. A program of Washington's caliber might want someone younger to run the ship and pick up any lost pieces that DeBoer left with his departure.
Feldman gave several reasons why Fisch would make sense for UW. He already coaches on the West Coast and once worked in an assistant position for Pete Carroll on the Seattle Seahawks.
The Wildcats were gearing up for their inaugural campaign in the Big 12 next year, but they might do it without their current leader. Jason Scheer of 247 Sports confirmed that Fisch had talked with Washington yesterday, though not many other details have surfaced. The same cannot be said about Leipold. It is believed that Fisch is who the Huskies are pursuing foremost, not Leipold.
A lot of this is just speculation, and there have not been any confirmed reports that Leipold had interviewed or spoken to Washington yet. The same cannot be said for Fisch. With that being said, it never feels good to have the coach of your school mentioned in the coaching carousel, so Kansas football fans must keep a close eye out on who the Huskies decide to hire.