Underneath every headline announcing the hire of Justin Wilcox, every writer will exclaim how big of a deal this is because Wilcox turned down a job at the University of Texas last year. The intent, I would suppose, is to make it sound like the job at Washington is more important, or more prestigious, than the same job at Texas. With everything else considered equal (i.e. salary), how else could one take this information?
Suck it, Texas! We got our man and you guys can eat our shit!
If we take off our rose-colored glasses, though, there’s a darker perspective to this whole thing. Regardless of what happens, Justin Wilcox will not be long for this school. If he does a crap job, then he will easily be fired and quickly forgotten. Not too shocking, that’s the nature of the business. Of course, if he does a good job, he will seek employment elsewhere; again, the nature of the business.
So, why Washington? Texas has a MUCH higher profile! They are able to recruit MUCH better personnel. SURELY, they will – over the course of the next 3-5 years – have a significantly better defense than the one we have here at Washington.
But, honestly, that’s the whole point. See, while Texas has the higher profile and the ability to recruit at a higher level, they’ve also got the higher expectations. If Texas isn’t competing for national championships in the next 3-5 years, boosters will start getting upset and who’s more likely to get the ax? The head coach or the defensive coordinator?
Washington, on the other hand, is only looking to start competing for conference titles. And Washington is coming from a position as one of the worst defenses in all of college football. What’s more impressive? Going to a good school and taking a good defense and making it slightly better? Or going to an okay school with a TERRIBLE defense and improving it by 50%? If UW was the 50th-best defense instead of the 100th, how much better would our record have been this year? It’s not impossible to imagine this team having won 10 games. How big would THAT accomplishment be after the last decade of futility?
You’re going to make a WAY bigger impact on your own stock as a D-coordinator if you take a nothing school (in the eyes of the national media) to a BCS bowl game than if you take a national powerhouse (like Texas) to a BCS bowl game. Upon achieving that (after the showing in 2011, as being one of the very-worst defenses in the game), you can pretty much write your own ticket to any head coaching job in college football.
Think about it. This is a young guy. He’s got pretty much no ties to Coach Sark (so there’s no reason to believe there would ever be loyalty beyond the first great job offer). And he’s had success before (albeit with a school that never really had a chance to win a national championship anyway in Boise State). Tennessee was a natural stepping stone for him, going from a lower-tier school to a bigtime BCS school. But NOW, now Wilcox has himself a real challenge! A BCS school with a middle school defense. If he passes this test, he will have it made.
So, don’t get attached, Dawg fans. Just hope he can get us over the hump and into a Rose Bowl before he pulls up stakes and hightails it out of town.