SEATTLE – Nick Holt will explain on Tuesday, Jan. 6, why he chose to become defensive coordinator at the University of Washington rather than retain that title at USC.
However, last October, just days after UW announced that coach Tyrone Willingham would be replaced, Holt was clear about his feeling that the Huskies are a sleeping giant in the world of college football.
“To us down here (at USC) and to people who know the Pac-10, that is just an awesome job,” Holt said. “Whatever happens, they’re going to be good up there. Had they probably stayed with (the Willingham staff) they’d end up being good. They’ve got some good young kids. They had some holes to fill recruiting. … But that is, as you know, one of the premier places, we think down here, in the country. It’s just a matter of time.”
On Monday, UW announced that Holt had agreed to join new head coach Steve Sarkisian in trying to make that happen. Holt will be introduced as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at 12:30 this afternoon at a press conference on campus.
“This is very exciting for Husky football,” Sarkisian said Monday through a UW news release. “I don’t think we could have found a more qualified or successful defensive coordinator anywhere in the country.”
Holt, 46, became USC’s defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in 2006 and continued through the Trojans’ Rose Bowl victory over Penn State last week.
His 2008 USC unit ranked No. 1 in the Football Bowl Subdivision regular season in total defense (206.08 yards per game), scoring defense (7.75 points per game), pass defense (122.83 ypg) and pass-efficiency defense (81.46, similar to passer rating). The Trojans also were No. 5 in rushing defense (83.25 ypg). They shut out three opponents – including Washington – and held eight of 12 regular-season opponents to seven or fewer points.
Holt, after two seasons as head coach at Idaho, inherited a USC defense that ranked 48th in total defense and 35th in scoring defense in 2005. In his first season, they improved to 20th in total defense and 11th in scoring defense.
He originally joined the USC staff in 2001 as linebackers coach. He left for Idaho in 2004 and returned after going 5-18 in two seasons there.
Holt grew up in San Jose, Calif., where he played football and baseball at Bellarmine College Prep, then went on to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., where he was a four-year letterman at linebacker.
He began his coaching career in 1986 as an assistant at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, went on to become a graduate assistant at UNLV and then became an assistant coach there, at Louisville and Idaho.
His hiring gives UW the offensive (Sarkisian) and defensive coordinators from this season’s Pacific-10 Conference champion Trojans.
Previously named to Sarkisian’s developing staff were Jim Michalczik, offensive coordinator/offensive line coach; Demetrice Martin, secondary; and Johnny Nansen, special teams/defense.
“Coach Sarkisian has been working tirelessly to recruit and to hire coaches,” athletic director Scott Woodward said in a press release. “This hire is a clear reinforcement of the confidence I have in him to put together a top-notch staff.”
Holt is married and has two sons. His wife, Julie, has been head women’s basketball coach at Nevada, Pacific, Gonzaga, Idaho and at a Los Angeles junior college.
His maternal grandfather was Clarence “Buster” Crabbe, a gold medal-winning swimmer in the 1932 Olympics who became a Hollywood star portraying Tarzan, Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.