Washington Football: 5 Potential Candidates to Replace Steve Sarkisian

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2013

Washington Football: 5 Potential Candidates to Replace Steve Sarkisian

0 of 5

    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    The USC Trojans went shopping for a new boss in Seattle on Monday afternoon, hiring Washington's Steve Sarkisian to become their next head coach, according to ESPN sources.

    Sarkisian was a longtime assistant at USC under Pete Carroll, and his success there led to his hiring at Washington in the first place. Though hard to swallow at first, Huskies fans have to understand why it would be hard for him to say no to the Trojans' offer.

    If UW fans want to get mad, it should be over defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who, according to Dave Mahler of KJR radio, will reportedly follow Sarkisian to Southern California. Wilcox was the tentative favorite to replace Sarkisian before that news broke, and his absence throws this program into flux.

    Where do the Huskies possibly go from here? Let's look at five potential names.

Jim Mora Jr.

1 of 5

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Might the prodigal son return?

    Jim Mora Jr. attended the University of Washington, walking onto the team and playing as a reserve linebacker/defensive back from 1980-83. He is a Huskie at heart, and after graduation, he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under then head coach Don James.

    Would he be willing to return home and lift yet another Pac-12 program to new heights? It's highly unlikely. Mora is in a prolonged honeymoon phase with UCLA, having just beaten USC for a second consecutive year. He knows how to recruit that area well and has the Bruins moving in the right direction; no matter how loyal he feels toward the Huskies, it would be an odd career move for him to leave Los Angeles.

    Still, don't think for a second that Washington won't place a feeler call and try to sell him on a recruiting pitch. The Huskies brass won't go down without a fight.

Tim DeRuyter

2 of 5

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Tim DeRuyter has proven himself at a number of stops throughout his coaching career, and unlike Wilcox, he has experience—and a proven track record—at making the transition from defensive coordinator to head coach.

    He left Texas A&M in 2012 after a couple of years managing its defense, accepting the head job at Fresno State, which was coming off of a 4-9 season. DeRuyter quickly turned the Bulldogs around, though, leading them to a 9-4 record last year before this year's near-perfect season.

    Although he's a defensive mind, DeRuyter has helped mold Derek Carr into a future NFL draft pick during his time at Fresno, which would make him a good fit at Washington, where blue-chip backup Cyler Miles needs some grooming but has the raw tools to eventually become a star.

    This wouldn't be a "sexy" hire, but Washington could do a whole lot worse. CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman has heard buzz that the Huskies might make a call.

James Franklin

3 of 5

    Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

    James Franklin is a fast-rising superstar in the coaching world, having done the impossible by restoring Vanderbilt to respectability—if not impressiveness—in the SEC these past few seasons.

    He was rumored to be a candidate for the USC job along with Steve Sarkisian, and it's worth wondering why it didn't work out. Did the Trojans not want Franklin, or did Franklin, for whatever reason, not want the Trojans?

    Adept at working off the radar, perhaps Franklin would be better-suited building up a program in Seattle instead of Los Angeles. The pieces are already in place for him to succeed, and he's proven to be great at both player development and in-game management.

    This would be a dream hire for the Huskies.

Ed Orgeron

4 of 5

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    Ed Orgeron was something of a punchline before the year—a guy like Lane Kiffin who could recruit his tail off and wake kids up to play, but didn't know much about coaching a football game.

    He dispelled some of those notions in 2013, though, taking over for a fired Kiffin and leading a resurgent USC team through the Pac-12 schedule. His Trojans upset Stanford, ending the Cardinal's bid for a national title, and genuinely seemed to love playing for Coach O.

    It seems an unlikely marriage to happen, but Washington might at least want to bring Orgeron in for an interview. He knows the West Coast area incredibly well, so he would be a huge boon for recruiting, and no one is more motivated to beat USC right now than he is.

    Besides...you know...every single player at Washington.

Mike Norvell

5 of 5

    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Mike Norvell is the sleeper on this list, having not amassed the requisite amount of experience that most major programs—yes, Washington is a major program—would like to have from a new head coach.

    But it's impossible not to like the job he's done as the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. Todd Graham is far from an offensive guru, but the Sun Devils have done some fun, creative and (most of all) effective stuff with the football these past two seasons.

    According to Tyler Lockman of Fox Sports Arizona, Norvell's name has already started popping up for head coaching vacancies across the nation. Washington might not be sold strictly on his tape, but if it brings him in for an interview, there's a chance it could fall in love with him.

    Everyone is always looking for the next offensive genius, the guy who could be the next Chip Kelly or Chris Peterson or Art Briles.

    Why shouldn't Norvell be that guy?