The general feeling after the regular season ended was Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt was safe heading into 2012, barring, perhaps, an utter disaster in the Alamo Bowl against Baylor.
Well, giving up 67 points and 777 yards was an utter disaster for the Huskies' defense, and that made the announcement of Holt's termination Saturday not terribly surprising.
Holt and Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian are friends who have known each other for a long time. But sentiment wasn't enough to save Holt after his third year on the job produced one of the worst defenses in program history. It didn't help that, at $650,000 annually, he was one of the nation's highest paid coordinators.
Including Holt, Sarkisian cleaned house on defense, firing linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills. Toss in the departure of secondary coach Demetrius Martin, and the Huskies' defensive staff will be almost completely rebuilt in 2012. Defensive line and special teams coach Johnny Nansen is the only defensive coach who will be back next season.
What -- and who -- is next for the Huskies' defense?
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times pointed out that Sarkisian previously tried to hire former USC defensive coach Rocky Seto, who is now defensive backs coach for the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll.
Rocky Seto, who is now defensive backs coach with the Seahawks. Seto also worked with Sarkisian at USC and was offered the coordinator's job at UW in a period when Holt initially turned it down before later accepting. Seto last year was offered the defensive coordinator's job at UCLA.
Sarkisian also might be wise to take a look at Utah's Kalani Sitake. Sitake, a candidate for the Hawaii head coaching job that was filled by Norm Chow, might want to spread his wings, as head coach Kyle Whittingham still receives a lot of credit for the success of the Utes' defense.
But the contract Holt signed would raise a lot of eyebrows across the country. Sarkisian certainly can go after an A-list coordinator.
Condotta also pointed out the that all three now former assistants had two-year contracts, meaning Washington will be on the hook for another year of salaries at a total of $1.025 million: "Holt's official salary at UW was $650,004, Cox's was $220,008 and Mills' was $155,004."
In other words, Sarkisian decided that improving the Huskies' defense was an urgent need.