Tuiasosopo named interim coach for bowl game

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SEATTLE — Marques Tuiasosopo, the star quarterback on Washington’s 2001 Rose Bowl team, was named Wednesday the interim head coach for UW’s upcoming bowl game.

The Huskies’ search for a permanent head coach, meanwhile, appears to have two front-runners: Boise State coach Chris Petersen and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, two sources close to UW told The Seattle Times.

Petersen, 49, has a 92-12 record in eight seasons at Boise State, with victories in two BCS bowl games. He has been linked to a number of head-coaching jobs in recent years and reportedly was a top candidate at USC before withdrawing his name from consideration earlier this week.

On Monday, USC hired Steve Sarkisian as its head coach, luring him away from UW after five seasons. Sarkisian was 34-29 with the Huskies, including an 8-4 record this season.

Boise State played the Huskies twice in the past year, defeating UW 28-26 in the Las Vegas Bowl last December. The Huskies then opened this season with a 38-6 victory at renovated Husky Stadium, the worst loss of Petersen’s tenure.

The Broncos’ eight wins this season are the program’s fewest under Petersen. It is unclear if Petersen would leave Boise for UW. He made $2.2 million this season and has a $750,000 buyout in his contract, according to The Idaho Statesman.

Nussmeier, 42, spent three seasons at UW as Sarkisian’s offensive coordinator from 2009-11. Nussmeier, part of Alabama’s national championship last season, has expressed interest in the UW job, multiple sources said.

Nussmeier was scheduled to make $680,000 at Alabama this season.

Tuiasosopo’s selection as interim head coach is a strong indication that he will likely remain on staff under the next head coach.

The Huskies should find out their bowl destination by Monday. The Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 27 remains UW’s probable bowl bid.

“I’m humbled and so honored,” Tuiasosopo said in a statement. “It’s a great, incredible honor to lead my alma mater in a bowl game. We still have a lot to play for this season. I am excited to go out and get a ninth win.”

Tuiasosopo, 34, a Woodinville native, is in his first season as UW’s quarterbacks coach. He spent the past two seasons at UCLA.

Also Wednesday, UW defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox interviewed with athletic director Scott Woodward for the head-coaching job, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Sources have told The Seattle Times that Sarkisian wants Wilcox and defensive-line coach Tosh Lupoi to join him at USC, but the Trojans appear to be balking at the $1 million buyout in Wilcox’s UW’s contract. Lupoi has a $410,00 buyout.

There was more shake-up to the UW staff Wednesday. Running-backs coach Johnny Nansen and defensive-backs coach Keith Heyward will join the USC staff, The Times confirmed. Both are Southern California natives.

As of Wednesday evening, a source said Wilcox, Lupoi and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon were still part of UW’s staff.

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