Sat Dec 31 01:33pm EST
Coaches don't get the axe over a single game, so it's worth pointing out that Washington's decision to fire its entire defensive coaching staff today isn't exactly sudden: The Huskies finish the year ranked 107th nationally in total defense, 108th in scoring D and 116th against the pass, just short of dead last. They allowed more yards per game (453.3) than any defense in school history. In six losses, they yielded at least 38 points in all six.
But if there was any doubt about coordinator Nick Holt's future before Thursday night's record-smashing offensive explosion in the Alamo Bowl, the Huskies' 67-56 loss to Baylor was certainly the falling piano that broke the camel's back. Baylor ripped off 777 yards of total offense on 9.1 yards per play, earned 33 first downs and sent three different rushers over 100 yards on the ground. Terrance Ganaway alone went for 200 with five rushing touchdowns. Facing a 42-24 deficit the start of the third quarter, the Bears responded by scoring six touchdowns on their last 21 offensive snaps.
Along with Holt, Washington is also cutting loose linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills. Cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin had already been hired away by UCLA before the bowl game, leaving only full-time assistant on the staff who had anything to do with the defense: Johnny Nansen, who coached the defensive line in addition to coordinating special teams and recruiting. Considering Holt's background is almost exclusively on the defensive line, though, it's a safe assumption he made the front four his responsibility. This is a thorough house-cleaning.
The guillotine may have caught Holt off guard — he has a long, friendly history with head coach Steve Sarkisian, and said Friday he had no reason to expect he wouldn't be back in 2012 — but not Husky fans, who voted more than 4-to-1 in a Seattle Times poll in favor of his exit after the Alamo Bowl debacle. Oh, he'll be fine: Guys with "defensive coordinator for three Rose Bowl-winning teams at USC" on their resumé tend to land on their feet, especially when they put up the kind of numbers the Trojans did under Holt. (His last two years there, in 2007 and 2008, USC ranked first or second nationally in both total and scoring defense both years — though for the record, the defense at SC was largely overseen by head coach Pete Carroll, and those particular units in 2007-08 happened to feature an incredible 15 future draft picks, including first-rounders Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Lawrence Jackson, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews and Rey Maualuga.) We'll see soon how well that sits next to "guys whose defense just got ripped for 67 in a bowl game."