BY SPNW Staff 01:04PM 12/31/2011

Huskies fire Holt, two other assistant coaches

After the debacle in the 67-56 defeat to Baylor in the Alamo Bowl that made Washington’s defense a national joke, coach Steve Sarkisian did the inevitable Saturday.

Washington Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt and two other defensive assistants were fired Saturday by head coach Steve Sarkisian. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Nick Holt, the raspy-voiced, shaven-headed, high-energy coach who certainly looked the part, was fired by head coach Steve Sarkisian, along with two other defensive assistants Saturday, after the Huskies returned from the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, where the defense turned in the worst performance in team history.

According to a team statement released Saturday morning, fired along with him were linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills following Washington’s 67-56 loss to Baylor Thursday. Earlier in the month, cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin became the first coach to leave Sarkisian’s Washington staff since its 2009 assemblage when he accepted a similar post at UCLA under new coach Jim Mora, the ex-Husky player and former Seahawks coach.

Upon returning from Texas, Holt told the Seattle Times Friday that he expected to continue coaching. But the points surrendered, second-worst in the program’s 121 years, plus 777 yards in total offense to the Bears — the most ever — in a game for which the Huskies had a almost a month to prepare, made the Huskies defense an instant national joke.

The release said a national search will begin immediately for their replacements, but the pressure built through the season that made the firings almost a foregone conclusion. Immediately after the game Sarkisian told team broadcaster Bob Rondeau “changes are inevitable,” but backed off that directness in the post-game press conference.

The Huskies finished 7-6, same as a year earlier, following a 5-7 initial campaign in 2009, when expectations grew because of the value Sarkisian put on pulling Holt away from USC, where the two coached together. Holt’s $650,000 annual salary put him among the highest paid assistants in college football, as well as a target for critics who said he wasn’t worth it.

“I want to thank Nick Holt, Mike Cox, and Jeff Mills for their hard work and dedication throughout the last three years,” Sarkisian said in the statement. “They were instrumental in the leadership and development of countless young men, and they have left our program in a better place.”

Many would disagree, at least in terms of football numbers. Including the bowl game, the Huskies surrendered a record-worst 453.3 yards per game. In facing the quarterbacks who were 1-2 in the Heisman Trophy voting, Robert Griffin III of Baylor and Andrew Luck of Stanford, the Huskies gave up 67 and 65 points.

In Holt’s partial defense, the fourth- and fifth-year seniors on the team were recruited by the previous coaching staff under Tyrone Willingham, who was fired halfway through an 0-12 season in 2008. But over three years there was little improvement in obvious teaching points such as wrap-up tackling and assignment correctness.


YourThoughts

  • keith olson

    Yes, Holt had to go. But why’d it take so long for Sark to pull the trigger. You’d think the head coach would’ve seen this coming and taken steps long before now to shore up a piss-poor defense. Got to wonder if Sark is just an offensive mind lacking the big-picture sense of good head coach. Then again, it seemed so many times this season that the defense had bottomed out and could not possibly get any worse. Alas, we now know better. 

    • Bigk9

      Nonsense. Plain nonsense. Sark is a class act, and unlike some schools who let their coaches go midseason (like AZ), Sark is professional enough to handle things after he last game (far better for the players and coaches affected).
      Look at what Sark inherited dude. Can you imagine playing on a team with a history like Washington’s that went 0 – 12? At Sark’s first team meeting, 2 guys wore Husky gear (Jake Locker and 1 other).
      They were a complete mess.
      The UW Admin messed up by keeping the obvious disaster in Willigham as long as they did.
      Look at what he did to UW & ND.

      • Ty47

        Uh, did you check how Arizona was losing?  I mean they had lost 10 of their past 11 games and got embarassed on national tv.  Do not, do not let Sark off the hook on this.  Remember, under his watch the Huskies had 60 plus points scored on them twice this season and a record breaking 777 yards in a game that was witnessed by millions of people. 

  • keith olson

    Yes, Holt had to go. But why’d it take so long for Sark to pull the trigger. You’d think the head coach would’ve seen this coming and taken steps long before now to shore up a piss-poor defense. Got to wonder if Sark is just an offensive mind lacking the big-picture sense of good head coach. Then again, it seemed so many times this season that the defense had bottomed out and could not possibly get any worse. Alas, we now know better. 

    • Bigk9

      Nonsense. Plain nonsense. Sark is a class act, and unlike some schools who let their coaches go midseason (like AZ), Sark is professional enough to handle things after he last game (far better for the players and coaches affected).
      Look at what Sark inherited dude. Can you imagine playing on a team with a history like Washington’s that went 0 – 12? At Sark’s first team meeting, 2 guys wore Husky gear (Jake Locker and 1 other).
      They were a complete mess.
      The UW Admin messed up by keeping the obvious disaster in Willigham as long as they did.
      Look at what he did to UW & ND.

      • Ty47

        Uh, did you check how Arizona was losing?  I mean they had lost 10 of their past 11 games and got embarassed on national tv.  Do not, do not let Sark off the hook on this.  Remember, under his watch the Huskies had 60 plus points scored on them twice this season and a record breaking 777 yards in a game that was witnessed by millions of people. 

  • Bossfifty

    I live in Austin and have to put up with “hook-em” Horns crap all year long.  This was a year that I and several fellow Huskies were going to be able to tell some folks what they could do with those Horns.  Thanks Mr. Holt for showing us why Washington football was soooo bad for so many years.
    Basics RULE on defense….. never leave your feet when making a tackle, look the ball carrier in the eye as you size them up, hit hard and drive right through the ball carrier AND wrap them (repeat WRAP) them up as you plant them solidly into the turf.  This game was almost the worst I ever endured as a dog fan.     But…. there are KUDOS for Mr. Price who was not awed by RG3.

  • Bossfifty

    I live in Austin and have to put up with “hook-em” Horns crap all year long.  This was a year that I and several fellow Huskies were going to be able to tell some folks what they could do with those Horns.  Thanks Mr. Holt for showing us why Washington football was soooo bad for so many years.
    Basics RULE on defense….. never leave your feet when making a tackle, look the ball carrier in the eye as you size them up, hit hard and drive right through the ball carrier AND wrap them (repeat WRAP) them up as you plant them solidly into the turf.  This game was almost the worst I ever endured as a dog fan.     But…. there are KUDOS for Mr. Price who was not awed by RG3.

  • KYVEN11

    YEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

  • KYVEN11

    YEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    teaching points?  If these kids can’t tackle BEFORE they get to college how the heck did they get there??  It’s called effort and it was lacking on D Holt and do it for them they should be ashamed knowing they caused three families to be uprooted because they couldn’t wrap up and cover

  • http://twitter.com/kingwabbit Jeff Shope

    teaching points?  If these kids can’t tackle BEFORE they get to college how the heck did they get there??  It’s called effort and it was lacking on D Holt and do it for them they should be ashamed knowing they caused three families to be uprooted because they couldn’t wrap up and cover

  • Soggyblogger

    In regards to the Safeco Field Theorem: Why isn’t this a fixable problem? Cannot a fence be erected moving the fence closer to home plate? Is that illegal? Unethical? What? Sorry I am so ignorant. 

    • Pixeldawg13

      Soggy, yes the fences could be moved in.  Then you’d have a pitcher’s park with close fences.  The cool marine air won’t change.

      I tend to like Radio Guy’s scenario #3–which would be helped by moving the fences out a bit.

      • Angus Podgorny

        People need to quit using St. Louis and Kansas City of twenty years ago as examples of how teams with no power win.  Baseball has changed and nobody wins with just pitching, defense, and speed these days.  It just isn’t done anymore, and other than the two examples cited, it has rarely been done.

  • scot04

    Ownership should have stepped up & said we’ll be responsible for Ichiro’s contract.
    Make it separate from payroll and tell “Z” there’s 19M more to spend; Go get Fielder.
    We all know ownership is going to want to resign Ichiro this way they could do so without tying managements hands.
    Still if we knew we would trade Pineda for a power bat & young good hitting catcher we should have
    obviously called the Reds. Gives us the DH, Catcher & starting pitcher + a minor league reliever.4
    for 1 one plus Alonzo’s left handed bat is a better fit. Not to mention a
    better defensive catcher who might not have as much power but also hit well in the
    minors.  Either way I cannot see why M’s did not just say Pineda only and stick to it.  (Yes Z wanted a RH power bat, but still.)
    We definately gave the Yankees a no lose proposition.

  • Bert

    That’s pretty fatalistic, Art. Do you have an abundance of examples that demonstrates the Yankees superior knowledge and capacity to divine the future of young ball payers?
    This trade may work out for the M’s, or not. Pineda has had arm troubles already, and that can derail any pitcher’s career at any time. Over at the Times, Larry Stone is comparimg this to the trade that brought Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to Toronto in exchange for Tony Fern Fernandez and Fred McGriff – a trade about filling holes, not about salaries. This could very well be a trade that makes everybody come out looking good.

  • We’re doomed

    I’m mostly with you on the Safeco Theorem, except that other teams seem to not have trouble hitting home runs here. This column is dead-on, the only problem with it being that now I wonder why I care at all. I was stoked about the deal but this brought me careening back to Earth. When do we get that NHL team again? *sigh*

  • Anonymous

    Three things:

    1. I hate to see Pineda go (no explanation needed), but you have to give something to get something, and what the M’s got is a 22-year-old rated the #3 prospect in Baseball America last year.  Yes, the Yankees WERE willing to trade Montero, but they had to give something, too.  I’ll wait until the end of the season to weigh in whether it was a good deal or not for the M’s.

    2. The only reason FIelder would sign with Seattle is for the money.  Period.  It wouldn’t be for those night home games during the balmy months of April and May, nor for the would-be homers that die at the warning track because of the cool marine air from Elliott Bay nor for all those walks he’d get because other teams would rather pitch aorund him to get to the rest of the Mariners order.  That’s not a recipe for success.  And, by the way, why are so many other big spenders passing on bidding for Fielder.  What do they know?

    3.  Maybe the organization should be building a team that fits its ballpark instead of trying to fit square pegs into round holes.  Sure, you always want more power, but I think of the great teams Whitey Herzog had in KC and St. Louis (neither of which had hitters parks):  His Royals and Cardinals were built around pitching, defense and speed-speed-speed, and they both were able to compete and win pennants even though neither had true home run threats.  Of course, it helped to have a Whitey Herzog to manage these team and Eric Wedge is no Whitey Herzog.

    In the end, we’ll all have to stop hyperventilating and just wait and see.  Pitching is not the problem in Seattle, hitting is, and bringing in a potential .300/30/100 guy like Montero can only help, even at the cost of a great arm like Pineda’s.

  • Anonymous

    Three things:

    1. I hate to see Pineda go (no explanation needed), but you have to give something to get something, and what the M’s got is a 22-year-old rated the #3 prospect in Baseball America last year.  Yes, the Yankees WERE willing to trade Montero, but they had to give something, too.  I’ll wait until the end of the season to weigh in whether it was a good deal or not for the M’s.

    2. The only reason FIelder would sign with Seattle is for the money.  Period.  It wouldn’t be for those night home games during the balmy months of April and May, nor for the would-be homers that die at the warning track because of the cool marine air from Elliott Bay nor for all those walks he’d get because other teams would rather pitch aorund him to get to the rest of the Mariners order.  That’s not a recipe for success.  And, by the way, why are so many other big spenders passing on bidding for Fielder.  What do they know?

    3.  Maybe the organization should be building a team that fits its ballpark instead of trying to fit square pegs into round holes.  Sure, you always want more power, but I think of the great teams Whitey Herzog had in KC and St. Louis (neither of which had hitters parks):  His Royals and Cardinals were built around pitching, defense and speed-speed-speed, and they both were able to compete and win pennants even though neither had true home run threats.  Of course, it helped to have a Whitey Herzog to manage these team and Eric Wedge is no Whitey Herzog.

    In the end, we’ll all have to stop hyperventilating and just wait and see.  Pitching is not the problem in Seattle, hitting is, and bringing in a potential .300/30/100 guy like Montero can only help, even at the cost of a great arm like Pineda’s.

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully we have gotten an everyday player who will be valuable sooner than later. Pineda is a huge talent and it’s sad to see him go.

    As to the sorry state of the M’s, until the common threads of their last 10 years are gone, Lincoln and Armstrong, it’s not worth buying tickets.

  • Pingback: Thiel: Sark doesn’t much remember the Alamo | UW Football