Washington introduces new Huskies football coach Kalen DeBoer

·5 min read
Ted S. Warren

Kalen DeBoer walked up the steps to the podium Tuesday morning as the Husky marching band played.

He clapped along as “Bow Down to Washington” rang out across the fourth floor of UW’s football operations building, which looks out across Husky Stadium, where his name and new title flashed across the video board in the east end zone.

He smiled as athletic director Jen Cohen introduced him as the next Washington Huskies football coach.

Then DeBoer stood, along with Cohen, and held up a purple jersey with the No. 30 printed on it, signaling his official arrival as the 30th head coach in program history.

“This is a special day,” DeBoer said. “It really is. I thank all of you for coming and joining us here and making it special for me and for my family, and I can’t wait to get started.”

And so a new era on Montlake begins.

DeBoer, the 47-year-old who led Fresno State to a 9-3 record and bowl eligibility this fall, who previously coached Sioux Falls to three NAIA championships in five years, and who has guided successful offenses throughout his coaching career, was announced as the UW’s next coach Monday afternoon.

“This guy’s a winner in every way,” Cohen said at DeBoer’s introductory press conference Tuesday. “He’s won at every level of college football. He’s revitalized programs. Everywhere he’s been, his programs have gotten better, and I have no doubt he’s going to do the same thing here at the University of Washington.”

DeBoer — who has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $16.5 million contract — spoke about those successes, the future of UW football and more Tuesday. He posed this question in his opening remarks — “Why Washington?”

DeBoer spoke about family and community. He spoke about the history and championship tradition of this program. He spoke about the groundwork laid by the coaches and players before him, and emphasized the importance of wanting UW “to always be home” for the alumni, and how their shared experiences are “only going to make us stronger in the years to come.” He spoke about the university’s resources, and the experience this program can provide for student athletes. And he spoke about the alignment of all of those values at UW.

“I spoke about family. I spoke about work ethic. I see that here. I see a gritty, hard-nosed environment, football program, institution. Just a lot of the things that embody the things I feel strong about,” DeBoer said. “And, most importantly, we do it in a first-class manner. We do it with integrity. We do it in a way where we’re proud — we’re proud of who we are, we’re proud of what we do, we’re proud of the results, but we’re especially proud of how we got there and doing it the right way.”

As far as what’s next, DeBoer said it’s about “laying down the culture of our program and getting that going.”

“We have some core values, things we call non-negotiables and they revolve around being a family, being accountable to each other and having a tough, hard-nosed mindset that’s mentally, and then on the field, physically as well,” he said.

“It starts with me. It starts with laying out clear expectations that everyone understands, and I think that’s so important.”

UW finished the 2021 season at 4-8, and short of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. DeBoer first met with the team Monday night, and said he spoke players about the urgency to get to work as the year turns over.

“That’s when we’ll roll our sleeves up and get to work and be around each other a lot more,” he said. “I don’t want the guys who have one year left to think that this is a rebuild. This is not that. To me, this is about reloading. (It’s) a place that has everything we need to be successful right now.”

And the goals will be set high, DeBoer said.

“Conference championships are going to be an expectation here,” he said. “That’s an expectation. National Championships are what our goal is. That seems lofty, but I’ve been at places where lofty goals seem out of the imagination and we’ve accomplished those things.”

DeBoer brings a proven offensive approach to Seattle as the Huskies begin to work toward those goals.

“I’m an offensive guy and there’s been so much I’ve learned,” he said. “And again, every step along the way you pick things up. Great mentors, great people. But, a lot of time just put in working to learn the game.

“I’m passionate towards it. Love finding a way to make something just a little bit better that can put a game away or be a difference-maker. Attacking and explosive is what I’d like to really think we’re going to be. Both sides of the ball, but in particular offense. Just fun to watch.”

DeBoer also spoke about the importance of recruiting in the state of Washington, on the West Coast and beyond, and being diligent in building a staff that has a recruiting mindset.

“We’ve got to be relentless in everything we do,” he said. “My staff will be full of great recruiters that have been proven.”

The recruiting work starts now, and so does the work to re-energize UW’s current roster for next season, as DeBoer leads the Huskies into 2022.

“He’s going to do things the right way — the Washington way — and he’s going to win doing it,” Cohen said.

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