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Originally published Wednesday, December 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Rocky Seto says no to Steve Sarkisian's Huskies offer

One coordinator down, one still to go for new Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian. If Rocky Seto had said yes, Sarkisian might have had both of...

Seattle Times staff reporter

One coordinator down, one still to go for new Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian.

If Rocky Seto had said yes, Sarkisian might have had both of the two most significant spots on his Huskies coaching staff filled.

Instead, Seto said early Tuesday he will stay with USC as secondary coach.

Sarkisian did announce the first three hires of his new staff — offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, secondary coach Demetrice Martin and Johnny Nansen, who will handle special teams and also work on defense, though exactly where is not yet known.

They are the first official members of what will be a completely new UW staff as Sarkisian confirmed he will not keep any of Tyrone Willingham's assistants.

"Only time will tell, but I think we are bringing in the type of people who will turn this program around and get it going in the direction we want it to go," Sarkisian said.

Michalczik, who spent the past seven years as offensive line coach at California, is the biggest get. Michalczik has long been acknowledged as one of the best at his position as the Bears have had at least one 1,000-yard rusher every season since he arrived in 2002.

And the Huskies made it hard for him to say no, offering a three-year contract worth $350,000 a season. It is the highest salary and the most years UW has ever paid an assistant coach. Nansen ($110,000) and Martin ($100,000) each got two-year deals. UW assistants have typically operated on yearly contracts except for a few coordinators here and there.

Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was the only member of the old staff that had a two-year deal, and he was the highest-paid at $334,000.

Michalczik is a Port Angeles native who played guard at Washington State from 1984 to 1988 and his wife, Jennifer Streatfeild, played volleyball at UW, which Sarkisian said he knew might be draws.

"There were some natural fits there," Sarkisian said. "We obviously have a lot of philosophical things [in common], the physical nature of how we want to be up front, and he realized it's a great opportunity to be part of something special."

Sarkisian will call the plays but he said Michalczik will have a heavy say in designing the game plan and in making game-day adjustments. Michalczik will also take the lead role in recruiting efforts in the state of Washington, Sarkisian said.

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Nansen is also a former Cougar, earning letters as a linebacker there from 1994 to 1996. He has been an assistant the past five years at Idaho working with linebackers, the defensive line and special teams.

Martin was most recently an assistant at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., a two-year school, but was a defensive graduate assistant at USC in 2007. He played receiver and cornerback at Michigan State from 1992 to 1995.

Sarkisian said Nansen and Martin are on the road recruiting in Southern California and Hawaii.

While he lost out on luring Seto or any other full-time assistants from USC, Sarkisian did get a few other Trojans to fill other roles.

He said Jared Blank will be director of player personnel, essentially putting him in charge of organizing recruiting efforts. A 2005 graduate of USC, he has served the same role for the Trojans for the last year-and-a-half.

He also said Ivan Lewis and Charr Gahagan will come from USC to take over the strength and conditioning department. Lewis will be the head strength coach and Gahagan an assistant.

That leaves six assistant-coaching spots still to be filled, and Sarkisian said while he could announce a few more in a week or two, he won't rush, preferring to get the best candidates he can.

Defensive coordinator will be the most critical.

"Up until [Monday] night I was going," Seto told the Orange County Register. "I struggled over this. Ultimately, our church, our family situation, we're extremely happy here."

Speculation has focused on former New Mexico coach Rocky Long, a former defensive coordinator at UCLA and Oregon State. Current Louisville defensive coordinator Ron English, who interviewed at UW last year, has also been mentioned though one report Tuesday said he wasn't interested and he is applying for the head-coaching job at Eastern Michigan.

After a recruiting trip, Sarkisian will return to Los Angeles to resume duties as offensive coordinator at USC. He will return to UW on Jan. 2 after USC plays Penn State in the Rose Bowl.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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