The shine from the silver Holiday Bowl trophy was only rivaled by that surrounding Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian on Saturday afternoon. And that trophy is bright.
Sarkisian was sent out at halftime of the Huskies’ hoops 88-75 win over Arizona State to whoop it up with the Hec Edmundson crowd. His final message: This is just the beginning.
Washington tried to make that clear to all when it reworked Sarkisians initial five-year contract and bestowed a new five-year deal on the coach Friday that can possibly take him through 2015 at the school.
The deal was not a surprise. Rumblings about the rework began in San Diego during the Holiday Bowl week. There is a contractually mandated review of the contract every 24 months. That started the process. Its no coincidence the contract was announced during the homestretch of recruiting. Signing Day is Feb. 2.
It had been in the process, it takes time, Sarkisian told Sportspress Northwest on Saturday. I think myself and the university wanted to make sure we wanted to do it the right way.
It seemed logical timing-wise, obviously with recruiting, to show the fact that I want to be here and I want to be here for a long, long time. For all the right reasons it just felt like the right time.
Sarkisian and the other coaches hosted a bevy of recruits on Saturday at the game. They saw the shiny trophy and heard his claim that Washington fans are the best in America. Announcement of the deal in principle resonates with youngsters still waiting to decide and reinforces with those convinced.
They like to know who theyre playing for, Sarkisian said. Thats part of the reason why they come. I try to pride myself on developing relationships with our players and I think knowing who that guy is is important.
There were adjustments in the new contract. An annual bump in salary surrounded by a variety of other merit-based clauses.
Those range from $25,000 for the Huskies winning seven times next year, to $50,000-$125,000 for graduation rates from 70 to above 80 percent. Sarkisian wants to chase down Stanford as the top academic football program in the conference.
More wins, more money, with rewards up to 12 wins. Better bowl, more money. Better graduation and academic progress rates, an annual NCAA measurement, more money. He also received an uptick in the percentage of his contract that he would receive should it end early.
Theres give and take in everything, Sarkisian said. I thought between Scott Woodward and my agent, Gary Uberstine, I thought they did a very fair contract from both sides.
Sarkisian, 36, receives an additional two seasons from his first deal. Sarkisians guaranteed compensation will be $2 million to $2.25 million this year, to $2.4 million for 2012 and to $2,550,000 in 2013. The additional years will pay Sarkisian a guaranteed $2.7 million in 14 and $2.85 million in 15.
Sarkisian also confirmed on Saturday his assistants will return.
I think we have a staff that believes in this place, believes in what were doing, Sarkisian said. We try to do the best job we can to take care of them as well so they feel comfortable, with what theyre doing for them and their families. Ive always stressed, continuity is huge for me.
Defensive coordinator Nick Holt and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier received extensions in late September. The other seven full-time assistants had deals that expired at the end of the 2010 season.
Signing Day looms, then back to actual football at the end of March. Per usual, commitments are changing in a way that makes wind-blown paper think the youths are aimless. But Sarkisian enjoys this final push.
I love this part, Sarkisian said. I think this is what you live for. This is the fourth quarter with two minutes left. This is where preparation comes in and having a staff with continuity working together is really important.
Washington hopes to maintain the continuity for another five years.