BY Todd Dybas 05:16PM 01/22/2011

Sarkisian: ‘I want to be here for a long, long time’

Fresh off his new five-year deal, Washington football head coach Steve Sarkisian talks to Sportspress Northwest about the new contract and closing in recruiting.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian is the owner of a new five-year deal from the school. (Drew McKenzie/Sportspress Northwest)

The shine from the silver Holiday Bowl trophy was only rivaled by that surrounding Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian on Saturday afternoon. And that trophy is bright.

Sarkisian was sent out at halftime of the Huskies’ hoops 88-75 win over Arizona State to whoop it up with the Hec Edmundson crowd. His final message: “This is just the beginning.”

Washington tried to make that clear to all when it reworked Sarkisian’s initial five-year contract and bestowed a new five-year deal on the coach Friday that can possibly take him through 2015 at the school.

The deal was not a surprise. Rumblings about the rework began in San Diego during the Holiday Bowl week. There is a contractually mandated review of the contract every 24 months. That started the process. It’s no coincidence the contract was announced during the homestretch of recruiting. Signing Day is Feb. 2.

“It had been in the process, it takes time,” Sarkisian told Sportspress Northwest on Saturday. “I think myself and the university wanted to make sure we wanted to do it the right way.

“It seemed logical timing-wise, obviously with recruiting, to show the fact that I want to be here and I want to be here for a long, long time. For all the right reasons it just felt like the right time.”

Sarkisian and the other coaches hosted a bevy of recruits on Saturday at the game. They saw the shiny trophy and heard his claim that Washington fans are the best in America. Announcement of the deal in principle resonates with youngsters still waiting to decide and reinforces with those convinced.

“They like to know who they’re playing for,” Sarkisian said. “That’s part of the reason why they come. I try to pride myself on developing relationships with our players and I think knowing who that guy is is important.”

There were adjustments in the new contract. An annual bump in salary surrounded by a variety of other merit-based clauses.

Those range from $25,000 for the Huskies winning seven times next year, to $50,000-$125,000 for graduation rates from 70 to above 80 percent. Sarkisian wants to chase down Stanford as the top academic football program in the conference.

More wins, more money, with rewards up to 12 wins. Better bowl, more money. Better graduation and academic progress rates, an annual NCAA measurement, more money. He also received an uptick in the percentage of his contract that he would receive should it end early.

“There’s give and take in everything,” Sarkisian said. “I thought between Scott Woodward and my agent, Gary Uberstine, I thought they did a very fair contract from both sides.”

Sarkisian, 36, receives an additional two seasons from his first deal. Sarkisian’s guaranteed compensation will be $2 million to $2.25 million this year, to $2.4 million for 2012 and to $2,550,000 in 2013. The additional years will pay Sarkisian a guaranteed $2.7 million in ’14 and $2.85 million in ’15.

Sarkisian also confirmed on Saturday his assistants will return.

“I think we have a staff that believes in this place, believes in what we’re doing,” Sarkisian said. “We try to do the best job we can to take care of them as well so they feel comfortable, with what they’re doing for them and their families. I’ve always stressed, continuity is huge for me.”

Defensive coordinator Nick Holt and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier received extensions in late September. The other seven full-time assistants had deals that expired at the end of the 2010 season.

Signing Day looms, then back to actual football at the end of March. Per usual, commitments are changing in a way that makes wind-blown paper think the youths are aimless. But Sarkisian enjoys this final push.

“I love this part,” Sarkisian said. “I think this is what you live for. This is the fourth quarter with two minutes left. This is where preparation comes in and having a staff with continuity working together is really important.”

Washington hopes to maintain the continuity for another five years.


  • Great to have Sark back. We haven’t really had a good coach for a long time. UW is a great venue and with good coaching, a bowl game or two, we’ll start attracting the great players instead of just good. In the mean time, Sark and his assistants will just have to work harder to get the mazimum out of his players.

  • Great to have a coach who wants to stick around and not looking at it as a stepping stone to a better coaching position.

  • Do I see a resemblance between Paterno and Sarkisian? I hope so, though Paterno may be hurting his program if he doesn’t bring in the next coach soon. It is no coincidence that the contract extends out to the graduating years for any high school recruits, but in Paterno’s case, he could fall over and die of old age any minute. Recruits want to think the coach they commit to will be there when they move on. Without a new contract, Sarkisian’s intentions in this regard were not clear. Now, they are. I hope.

  • the gaffa

    Smart choice by both parties. Sark can build something special here if he sticks around. College is a much better gig than the NFL. I just want to see him improve his conversion rate when he goes for it on 4th down!

  • 1coolguy

    It’ll be exciting to see if Sark can land a good QB – Price and Montana are not D1 QB’s of any note.

    Hopefully the kid that’s here this weekend from Florida will come on board.

    • Biff Ralphenson

      to 1coolbutignorantguy: Montana and Price are NOT D1 qb’s of any note? Really? (it’s the law that YOU share what yer smokin!) LOL, what are you a qb’s coach (I doubt it)? Anyway I do agree that it would be nice to land Brissett, The kid from florida just in case you forgot his name.

  • Jack Husky

    He’ll not bee here in 2 years… UW is not even a top 25 program… he’ll go big time instead of this ant hill..