'Jen made it a great job.' Kalen DeBoer on what Huskies need in next AD
Plus: Washington loses starting tailback Cam Davis for the season.
SEATTLE — Twice in eight years — once as a high-ranking administrator, then again as athletic director — Jen Cohen boarded a charter flight and returned to Seattle knowing who Washington’s next football coach would be.
In December 2013, she joined then-AD Scott Woodward to meet with Chris Petersen in Boise the night before UW announced he had accepted the job. In November 2021, Cohen flew to the Fresno., Calif., area to finalize a deal with Kalen DeBoer. A videographer captured Cohen and DeBoer signing the deal at the coach’s kitchen table before high-fiving and hugging his family.
Not quite one year later, Cohen extended DeBoer’s contract and awarded him a seven-figure raise after the Huskies finished the regular season with a 10-2 record. Washington’s football staff salaries increased by more than $3 million total this offseason. The Huskies spent more on recruiting in DeBoer’s first season, too.
“I don’t think there’s a person here who works for her, or even the student-athletes, that wouldn’t feel like they were more than 100 percent supported by her, every single day,” DeBoer said Tuesday.
Cohen picked DeBoer for the job and invested in both the coach and his program. And while there is no reason UW can’t hire a new athletic director who grasps the importance of doing the same, Cohen’s Monday departure for the AD job at USC does cloud DeBoer’s future, at least a little.
That’s not to suggest he’s panicked at the idea of working for someone other than the person who hired him. DeBoer emphasized in his Tuesday remarks that while he did value his connection with Cohen, “this place, by itself, is super special. We’ve worked hard. Whenever you’re a head coach and everything you pour into it … there’s an investment that’s on another level. (I) feel so strong about UW, and my family does as well. We’re just feeling like we’re getting kind of included into the community, and feeling good about that.”