The Time Has Come For Nick Holt To Go


Nick Holt has been a popular lightning rod since his arrival in Seattle three seasons ago. Clearly he took over a defense in disarray under the Ty Willingham era. But, while Steve Sarkisian has remained the offensive mastermind of the Huskies, leading their offense to prolific feats of scoring, the defense has not improved in these three years. He’s had time to recruit players of his liking. He’s had time to tweak the defensive schemes. He’s had time to show improvement. I am usually not one to call for the quick hook and I believe in allowing coaches time to implement their system…But, sometimes you also have to make the call that you have the wrong guy and his system doesn’t work.

Nick Holt has been the highest paid assistant coach in the Pac-10/12 (except rumors that Monty Kiffin makes more), and you expect more from someone with such a high pay scale. You expect a defensive in the upper-third of the conference, not 10th. You expect a defense in the top-half of the nation, not the bottom 15%.

Just take a look at how this defense did this year. These are the pre-Alamo Bowl Statistics:

94th in Total Defense at 426.33 yards per game

101st in Points Allowed at 33.33 ppg

116th in Passing Defense at 283.75 yards per game

55th in Rushing Defense at 142.55 yards per game

59th in Total Sacks at 23

And then there was the Alamo Bowl… Nick Holt had 4 weeks to prepare for the game. Yes, Baylor is one of the top scoring teams in the country. Yes, they averaged 541 total yards per game. We expected a high scoring game. But, this defense had 4 weeks to get healthy. 4 weeks to game plan and watch video. 4 weeks to find a way to show that they have improved. So, what do they do?

*Give up 67 points. That is the 2nd game this season in which they gave up over 60 (65 against Stanford). It’s also the 2nd highest number of points EVER given up by a Husky team (72 to Cal in 19-frickin-21)…in HISTORY!

*Give up 777 total yards, the most by any Husky team ever.

*Give up 482 yards rushing, including Baylor having three 100-yard rushers. That was the 2nd most rushing yards ever given up by a Husky team. Couple that with the 446 yards they gave up on the ground against Stanford and the moral of the story is that when the Huskies play elite quarterbacks and key in on trying to stop them, their average rushing defense becomes absolutely porous.

*Gave up 8 rushing touchdowns, also an all-time Husky defensive record.

*They gave up more than 230 MORE yards than Baylor normally averaged. For some teams, that’s almost a whole additional game of offense.

I have got to think that there is a defensive coordinator out there somewhere in America, perhaps at a mid-tier DI school (UL-Monoe ranked #21 in the nation in total defense, tied with Kent State), perhaps an lower-level defensive assistant coach at an Alabama (#1) or Michigan State (#5), that can do better than this. Since the Huskies were 94th in the nation in total defense, there has got to be at least 93 other coaches that could do this job better than Nick Holt has.

With the offensive prowess this team has shown and the bright future under Keith Price, Steve Sarkisian owes it to those kids and the fans to jettison his friend and improve this defense. I think we are all seeing the reason Pete Carroll continued to be the defensive play-caller at USC when Holt was the DC there. He doesn’t know how to call a defense and he doesn’t know how to teach tackling.

This is a 7-6 team (the last two years) having a defense that ranks right up there with the San Jose States and Bowling Greens of the college sports world. If they could just get it up to the middle range of the FBS- say #59-61 like Clemson, Oregon, or Missouri imagine what this team could do.