Washington has hired Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer as its next head coach, the school announced on Monday. DeBoer led the Bulldogs to a 12-6 record in two seasons with the program. He replaces Jimmy Lake, who was fired from Washington shortly before the end of his second season.
“My family and I are so grateful for the opportunity to lead such a storied program and be part of this prestigious institution, DeBoer in a school statement. “The tough, hard-nosed tradition of Washington football speaks for itself, and it was obvious throughout this process that UW is committed to competing at the highest level. This is a perfect fit for me and I would like to thank Jen Cohen and President Cauce for their trust. We could not be more excited to get to Seattle and get to work.”
In DeBoer, Washington nabs one of the more intriguing prospects on the coaching market. He was named head coach at NAIA Sioux Falls in 2005 and led the program to three national championships and a 67-3 record. DeBoer then worked his way up the ranks through Southern Illinois, Eastern Michigan and as Fresno State’s offensive coordinator before landing a Power Five coordinator job at Indiana.
During DeBoer’s two years as offensive coordinator under former Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford, the Bulldogs improved from 1-11 to a combined 22-6. He helped Tom Allen elevate the Hoosiers from 5-7 to 8-5 before sliding back to Fresno State as head coach. In short, he has won everywhere he has coached.
“I could not be more excited to welcome Kalen and his wonderful family to the University of Washington,” Washington AD Jennifer Cohen said. “We set out to find the best fit for Husky football and we found an individual that exemplifies everything this program represents. Kalen is a winner and champion, plain and simple. He has succeeded at every stop because he does it the right way and is committed to a culture of excellence for Husky football student-athletes. His strong value alignment with our department, university and community will make all of Husky Nation proud.”
Now DeBoer’s winning pedigree will be tested as he takes over a Washington situation that bottomed out two years after the retirement of legendary head coach Chris Petersen. Lake led Washington to a 3-1 record in his pandemic-shortened debut but went 4-5 before being fired after a bizarre altercation with a player on the sideline during a loss to Oregon. The Huskies finished 4-8, their worst record since Tyrone Willingham led the program to a winless campaign in 2008.
Fresno State went 9-3 in 2021, including a dramatic 40-37 win over UCLA. Washington transfer quarterback Jake Haener was magnificent under center for the Bulldogs, throwing for 3,810 yards and 32 touchdowns under DeBoer’s tutelage.