Steve Sarkisian impressed in his first press conference as the new head coach of the Washington Huskies. He brought what many felt was a fresh start to the program. Indeed this was the first hire since Don James that hasn't been completely awkward.
Think about Jim Lambright coming in for the Dawgfather, Rick Neuheisal bringing his baggage from Colorado, Keith Gilbertson promoted from within after Neuheisal's departure, and the depths of the program when Tyrone Willingham was brought in and his controversy with Notre Dame. There is no controversy now, Tyrone just didn't get the job done. Period.
Now its up to Steve Sarkisian to energize a fallen program, and he hit the ground running yesterday.
So far he has visited Skyline and Bellevue over on the east side of Lake Washington. These local programs that are key to fueling Husky footballs development for the years to come. Jake Heaps, the quarterback at Skyline is considered a top player on the West coast for 2010.
His next order of business is to assemble the correct staff for the job at hand. While the Head Coach steers the ship, his coaches makes sure the rest of the ship runs smoothly. His choices will make or break his tenure as the Washington head coach.
As for coaches that could be retained, Dawgman.com reports that Chris Tormey the linebackers coach and Randy Hart the defensive line coach are most likely to be retained.
Randy Hart is the most senior and longest lasting Husky assistant, starting coaching for Don James in 1988.
Christ Tormey is also the recruiting coordinator, and it is widely believed that these two coaches are being retained for their coaching links within the state of Washington.
One name that was thought to be retained but now is not, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, is that of Steve Gervais, the running backs coach. It was thought his connection to Skyline High School might be useful.
Tim Lappano appears on his way out as well, but with Coach Sarkisian retaining play-calling for the Huskies this move isn't totally surprising.
There has been some outreach to Dewayne Walker, defensive coordinator for UCLA, according to Molly Yanity of the Seattle P-I, but this is thought to be a stretch. He is a frontrunner for the San Diego State job.
Bob Condotta also reported in his Husky blog that perhaps Yogi Roth, the graduate assistant for quarterbacks at USC, would perhaps join Sarkisian at Washington.
So far it appears that a lot of rumors of coaches are swirling, but until they are finalized they are just that, rumors. Sarkisian in his press conference said that one of his first priorities was to fill out his coaching staff, but didn't want to rush to make sure he got the right people.
On recruiting, especially with an especially weak class at the moment, it might seem prudent to scout the Junior College ranks for some immediate help. Sarkisian in his press briefing claimed that they can be used for immediate needs, but they need to come in and help.
Tyrone Willingham recruited much from JC's early on but a lot of the players never made a huge impact and that's something that hurt the program in the end. Those players need to be ready to play as they only have two years of eligibility to use.
It's refreshing to see Sarkisian hit the ground running so to speak; especially considering Tyrone Willingham spent a week on vacation playing golf in Hawai'i before starting recruiting.
It was what really broke Willingham in the end, with a real lack of senior leadership in this last year. Especially on defense and in the receiving corps where the youth and inexperience become costly as the year went on.
The enthusiasm is there, but as many Husky fans have cautiously thrown out there, until he walks the walk, its just talk for now.