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Washington's surprise coaching search: Jim Mora and the 5 other names to know

With Steve Sarkisian on his way to USC, a pretty appealing job at Washington has opened up. Here's a look at some potential frontrunners for the gig, starting with the obvious one. Also, let us know what you think.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Huskies are now searching for a new head coach for the second time in five years with Steve Sarkisian reportedly set to take the USC job. The possibility of Sarkisian taking the job always had to be in the back of UW's mind given his strong ties to the Trojans, though it comes at an inauspicious time with the Huskies set to play their bowl game in a couple of weeks.

Shortly after word broke that Sarkisian has headed back to SoCal, speculation began over who would be the next head coach in Seattle. It's an attractive job, featuring a newly renovated stadium, the city of Seattle, and a decent recruiting base. Here's a look at some of the top candidates.

Jim Mora, UCLA head coach

A former UW player himself, Mora has strong ties to the Washington area, working as a graduate assistant for the program early in the '80s and later coaching with the Seahawks as well.

Mora's work at UCLA the last two seasons has proven his staff's skills at recruiting Pac-12 country, and he has turned around the Bruins in no time flat, taking them from mediocrity to a 12-6 record in the conference and regular top 25 appearances. There is enough evidence to think that he might be able to repeat that at a UW program looking for the same, potentially making him Washington's ideal candidate.

According to a report, he's considering his options.

Update: Mora will reportedly stay at UCLA.

Chris Petersen, Boise State head coach

No, it's not likely that the Huskies would get him -- we did make him a form letter to use when turning down jobs, after all. After all, USC, Oregon and UCLA all tried and failed, all programs more illustrious than Washington's. Still, due to his success and his ties to the region, he'd be worth contacting.

It has been reported that Petersen once turned down the UCLA job (and perhaps the USC job as well) due in part to his dislike of increased media attention, but there wouldn't be nearly as much up in Seattle as there would in Los Angeles.

Justin Wilcox, reportedly leaving Washington for USC as well

Although Wilcox will reportedly follow Sarkisian to USC, the rising star would have been the easiest -- but perhaps not necessarily best -- choice for Washington, as he would have allowed the Huskies to maintain a sense of continuity, both in their recruiting and for the program itself.

Doug Nussmeier, Alabama offensive coordinator

A former Sarkisian assistant from 2009 to 2011, Nussmeier left that job for Alabama, but he could be getting an upcoming phone call from Washington AD Scott Woodward. Although Bama does have an incredible amount of talent, anyone who has seen its offense the last two years should be impressed by Nussmeier's playcalling and development. Only one of Nick Saban's Alabama offenses ranked in the top 10 in yards per play before Nussmeier's arrival, but the Tide have since reached that mark two years in a row.

However, Washington fans are worried he's too Sark-like.

Tim DeRuyter, Fresno State head coach

Cary Edmondson, USA Today

The Long Beach native and former Texas A&M defensive coordinator got some buzz last season after taking Fresno State to a 9-4 record, but his stock has continued to rise. The Bulldogs were contenders for a BCS at-large bid for most of the year, and DeRuyter's staff has helped take an already productive Derek Carr to new heights. Could it do the same with Cyler Miles or Troy Williams next season?

DeRuyter will reportedly be one of UW's top choices.

Gary Pinkel, Missouri head coach

Pinkel, 61, has Missouri in the SEC Championship Game and is already well-entrenched there, having served as head coach for 13 seasons, so it is tough to tell if he would actually consider leaving for anywhere. Let alone leaving an SEC job for a Pac-12 job, which would rarely be considered anything better than a lateral move.

However, Pinkel spent many formative years working at Washington under the beloved Don James, so the Huskies will likely hold some pull, even if it it might not necessarily bring him to Seattle.

Among the names being most widely discussed, consider Pinkel the longest longshot.

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