SEATTLE — Plan A is staying put. As Washington’s search for a new football coach heads into its third day, could Plan B be at Alabama?
UCLA announced a six-year contract extension with Jim Mora on Tuesday, ending what was believed to be Washington’s strong courtship of the former UW walk-on defensive back. UCLA agreed to raises for Mora’s assistant coaches and improved facilities.
UCLA announced the deal at the same time crosstown rival USC was holding a news conference to introduce former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian as the Trojans’ new coach.
“This is an exciting time for UCLA football, and the continued commitment our administration has provided gives us every chance to reach our goals,” Mora said in a statement. “This staff came here with a commitment to win a national championship; that commitment stands.”
A number of other coaches have been linked to UW’s search, which began Monday when Sarkisian left Seattle to the surprise of many.
Before he became Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2012, Doug Nussmeier held the same position for three seasons at Washington under Sarkisian. He could hold some intrigue for the Huskies now as Sarkisian’s potential successor.
Nussmeier, 42, a Portland native and star quarterback at the University of Idaho in the early 1990s, was well-liked among UW players and staffers during his three seasons with the Huskies from 2009-11, one UW source said.
Since joining Nick Saban’s staff, Nussmeier has helped Alabama win one of its past national championships. In 2012, the Crimson Tide set offensive records for points and total offense in a season.
Others who could intrigue UW are Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
Pinkel, 61, will coach Missouri in the SEC title game against Auburn on Saturday. When approached by a reporter from CBSsports.com on Monday, Pinkel declined to comment on the UW opening.
Multiple sources have said that Sarkisian had hoped to bring UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox with him to Los Angeles, but the $1 million buyout in Wilcox’s contract with UW is complicating that move. Defensive-line coach Tosh Lupoi has a $410,000 buyout in his UW contract.
Wilcox, 37, appears to be a longshot candidate in UW’s coaching search.
One UW assistant coach told The Seattle Times on Tuesday evening that the staff is in “wait-and-see mode” while the search continues. Washington has yet to name an interim coach for UW’s bowl game.