Washington Raises The Stakes Again

After turning down multiple offers from Washington, California defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi today finally accepted an offer from Husky head coach Steve Sarkisian to take essentially the same job he had in Berkeley up on Montlake.

Lupoi will be re-united with Justin Wilcox, Washington's new defensive coordinator, who coached Lupoi when he was at California, and Lupoi was playing for the Bears.

The obvious reason Lupoi finally accepted is money, and reports were that Washington was prepared to pay in the vicinity of a half million a year, and this not for a coordinator (though we will get something of a coordinator title, being named "Defensive Run Game Coordinator").

Recruiting is as much the reason for this as anything, as Lupoi is largely responsible for the continuing string of highly rated recruiting classes the Bears have landed of late. Wilcox, and Oregon St.'s Keith Heyward, who also left to join the Huskies, have reputations as excellent recruiters as well. As much as Husky fans haven't wanted to admit it, their talent level, especially in the trenches, of late has not been that great, and not what they need to continue taking their resurgence to the next level.

Sarkisian has addressed that, and, with Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward, they have been willing to spend, and spend big to do so. The Huskies will pay former Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt $650K this coming year to not coach as well as what they are spending on coaches.

And with quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmier probably headed to Alabama, expect another high dollar hire, very possibly with a big name, but certainly a reputation as a recruiter.

California fans are in an uproar over Lupoi leaving, but the reality is its a business, and money, especially 3x money, talks. Their bigger issue is whether their administration was willing to match Washington's offer.

We know Oregon St. wasn't willing to spend to retain one of their brighter young coaches.

Pac-12 television money is obviously a factor in this, but given that the Huskies are also rebuilding Husky Stadium, its clear they have decided to invest big in their biggest asset, and to a level eclipsing even their rivals.

California's stadium remodel has been speculated as a reason they didn't match the investment in staffing, but their level of investment is still substantial. So is Stanford's, after they built a new stadium recently. Washington St. has spent on a high profile coach, and is making infrastructure improvements as well. As Addicted To Quack notes, what this means for the conference as a whole is a very strong Pac-12 North, and Northwest. The new Pac-12 media deal has made an immediate impact. There is only one team that is not keeping pace in the Pac-12 North race, the rest of whom are doing whatever they can to catch up with Oregon. (We know who that is!)

However, none of them are approaching what Washington has committed to.

Whether the moves Washington is making will be worth it won't be known for a couple of years. But if as early as next season, the Huskies show even moderate improvement defensively (and it will be hard not to), and over the next couple of seasons the caliber of their recruiting classes climb to the top of the conference, and an appearance in a Pac-12 title game happens, not only will a shift in the stakes of football in the Northwest have happened, it will be too late to start to play catchup.

It's going to be interesting to see what tickets to this year's Oregon St.-Washington game at CenturyLink will cost, and also in 2 years when the Beavers make their first visit to the new Husky Stadium. These are already as highly priced as any ticket, and the day of "cheap, end zone seats" with a face price in triple digits would seem to be on the horizon.

If the Huskies can overhaul both Oregon and USC, selling out Husky Stadium won't be a problem.

Oregon St. Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis is already facing an impending decision about whether the Beavers are going to attempt to be competitive. It now appears that he will eventually also have to decide if he's willing to spend considerably more than expected to do so.

Which means Oregon St. fans and alums will have to make that same decision.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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