Originally written December 31, 2011 on SeaTown Sports:
It's official. Nick Holt is no longer employed by the University of Washington. Washington Huskies Safeties coach Jeff Mills and linebackers coach Mike Cox have also been let go. These were no doubt a tough set of decisions for Head Coach Steve Sarkisian to make, with all three defensive coaches being with Sarkisian since the start of his tenure in 2009. I don't think Sarkisian would've been able to keep his own job if he kept the status-quo going into the 2012 season. For me, the Oregon St. game was the clincher. Sure, Nebraska, Stanford and Oregon were good offensive times — Eastern Washington and Hawaii were also pass-heavy teams — but the Beavers?  I received this email the morning after the Alamo Bowl from a reader (edited some sentences out for length purposes): I watched the Bowl game last night against Baylor and could not believe what I saw on the field from the Huskies on defense. I am from Michigan, and recall those tough Rose Bowl games against Don James' Washington teams. A defensive coordinator is typically judged by: TACKLING fundamentals, SOUND SCHEMES (line-up correctly), and EFFORT (will the kids play hard for their coach?).  Holt's defense has none of the above. Against Baylor, I saw: poor tackling (embarrassing for such a program), pinching the Defensive End (no contain on the edge), and the players absolutely just quit trying to defend in the 4th quarter. There are hundreds of outstanding defensive minds in the coaching realm, and more than a handful are currently unemployed, why does Sarkisian stay loyal to someone who is obviously in over his head and unable to do a proper job? I replied: I agree with everything you're pointing out, although I don't have an eye for finding bad schemes and bad effort. Have you followed this team throughout the entire season? It's not just this game, but it's the culmination and a failure to improve. Sark has to fire Holt — I don't think he has a choice. Here was his response: Personally, I am not a "fire the coach" guy. Most times this does no good and many times the coach is stuck playing with the kids he has. However, most people who are teacher-coaches are displeased with other teachers or coaches who do a poor job in the same profession. 
As far as effort in the bowl game goes, signs of that are: players arriving to the ball late, an apperance of slow players, throwing out an arm in a weak tackling attempt (often referred to as a "chicken-wing"), broken tackles by the runner, lack of pursuit to the ball from players not near the play, defenders tied up with blockers too long, etc.  In regards to scheme; Baylor was calling plays on the line after they saw Washington line-up. Holt kept his OLB in the box and Baylor threw the immediate hitch-screen on the line of scrimmage to the 2-receiver side. With only 1 corner out there, Baylor was getting 10, 15, and 20 chunks of yardage everytime (and Anytime) they wanted it. Holt makes an adjustment by putting the OLB out there and he pinches the DE. Baylor calls the outside zone play and turns the corner with no defensive edge, no contain, and gets several LONG runs with no resistance. Baylor had 4 RB's with over 100 yds. rushing. Washington took away hitch screen and gave up the sweep, and that is just one example. It is fundamental Spread-Offense 101 and we have a highly paid d.coordinator in the Pac 10 conference who doesnt (apparently) get-it. I'm sure Holt is a nice guy and a good person, and he too isnt happy with the defense. Give Baylor credit as well, they are great on offense. But a program with the history and tradition of Washington should be competitive on both sides of the ball with a school the size of Baylor. Sark has a problem, his friend is not doing a good job. Now it's time to start the search for a new defensive coordinator, linebackers coach, safeties coach and cornerbacks coach. Any ideas? --Kevin Cacabelos (seatownsports@yahoo.com)
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