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Washington AD says Kalen DeBoer turned down ‘Big Ten package’ amid contract talks before leaving for Alabama

Washington offered coach Kalen DeBoer a “Big Ten package” that would have made him among college football’s top-10 highest-paid coaches before he left for Alabama, Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen said this week. Speaking at a civic function in suburban Seattle, Dannen said the school’s push to keep DeBoer featured financial figures “that were, quite frankly, unprecedented for this university,” according to the Seattle Times.

“We put numbers in front of him that were, quite frankly, unprecedented for this university,” Dannen said. “We put a Big Ten package in front of Kalen, not a Pac-12 package. …

“When it wasn’t signed, Kalen said the right things publicly, and I said the right things publicly … but it gives you pause.”

The push to keep DeBoer at Washington began well before Nick Saban retired and the Crimson Tide came calling. Dannen said contract negotiations with DeBoer began in October, just 10 days after Dannen arrived from his prior role as Tulane‘s athletic director.

A revamped contract totaling $8.7 million annually was in front of DeBoer by Thanksgiving. That offer shot up to $9.4 million following the Huskies’ Sugar Bowl victory over Texas in the College Football Playoff semifinals, according to the timeline laid out by Dannen and confirmed through documents obtained by the Seattle Times.

DeBoer ranked 44th nationally among college football coaches with annual salary of $4.2 million in his second season at Washington, according to the USA TODAY coaches salary database. Terms of DeBoer’s deal with Alabama have not been disclosed, but the contract is widely expected to exceed $10 million in annual compensation.

Dannen explained that when Washington’s first offer to DeBoer went unsigned, he began to consider who he might pursue if DeBoer left. When that process began, he relied on former Washington coach Chris Petersen for consultation. Ultimately, Dannen’s search landed on Arizona coach Jedd Fisch, who just led the Wildcats to a 10-3 season. Though Petersen was not in official interviews, Dannen talked to him “every day” throughout the process, according to the Seattle Times.

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