SEATTLE - Despite a report that Steve Sarkisian is the guy, Washington has nothing to say on its search for a new football coach.
Not yet, anyway.
Athletic director Scott Woodward said Thursday night he was not going to comment on a report the Huskies had offered the job to Southern California’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator. ESPN.com, citing unidentified sources, has reported that the 34-year-old Sarkisian will be named to replace fired UW coach Tyrone Willingham.
“We do not have an announcement to make,” Woodward said.
When asked if the report about Sarkisian was wrong, Woodward said with a wry smile: “We’ll see when the announcement comes. ... Stay tuned.”
Sarkisian did not answer his cell phone when called by The Associated Press on Thursday night, and his e-mail inbox was full and unable to accept messages.
He denied the report in quotes released by USC.
“I have not been offered the job,” he told reporters in Los Angeles. “Not as of now. Contact has been made. I’m honored to be a candidate. But right now, my focus is on the UCLA game Saturday.”
Indications are that both Washington and Sarkisian want to remain mum on the subject until after USC tries to win another Pac-10 title on Saturday. A University of Washington official said an announcement could come as early as Sunday.
The UW was keeping its recruits apprised of the situation Thursday night, but wasn’t revealing who the new coach would be.
“I have interviewed with Washington. They’ve interviewed a lot of people. I’m one of a number of candidates, which I’m honored to be,” Sarkisian said. “Nothing is finalized in any way, shape or form. There’s been some communication. Nothing has been put in writing. ... It’s a process. Neither party wants to rush into it.
“That’s ESPN’s report, not Washington’s or mine. ... Maybe ESPN knows more than I know.”
Sarkisian said Trojans head coach Pete Carroll “understands the situation and is on the same page.
“It comes with the territory: job openings and speculation,” Sarkisian said. “The key is to focus on the job Saturday and not this conversation.”
Earlier Thursday, Fresno State coach Pat Hill and Texas Tech’s Mike Leach withdrew from consideration for the job. Both had interviewed with Washington officials.
Texas Tech athletic director Gary Myers said the school was still working on getting Leach a new contract.
Hill acknowledged in a statement released Thursday by Fresno State that he had interviewed with UW officials Saturday in Seattle, a day after the Bulldogs lost their regular-season finale at Boise State.
Hill wanted a decision from the Huskies before he led the Bulldogs back to practice to prepare for their ninth bowl appearance in 10 seasons. But he said Washington officials told him they weren’t yet ready to announce their choice.
Hill said he was impressed with what Washington, the only winless major college team in the nation this season, is trying to do to revive its program.
“Whoever gets the Washington job will have a great challenge but also a great opportunity,” he said. “They have great support and tradition there and are making a serious commitment to restoring that program. As they move through their hiring process, they have made it clear that they are not ready to hire a coach at this time and I can’t keep my players or our staff hanging on.”
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