Jan. 5, 2009
Holt just completed the third year as defensive coordinator at USC, where he worked alongside Sarkisian, the Trojans' former offensive coordinator. Together, under head coach Pete Carroll, they helped lead USC to its NCAA-record seventh straight 11-win season, a seventh consecutive Pac-10 title and seven BCS bowl berths in a row. The Trojans beat Penn State Thursday for their unprecedented third straight Rose Bowl victory.
"This is very exciting for Husky football," Sarkisian said. "I don't think we could have found a more qualified or successful defensive coordinator anywhere in the country."
"Coach Sarkisian has been working tirelessly to recruit and to hire coaches," said Scott Woodward, UW director of athletics. "This hire is a clear reinforcement of the confidence I have in him to put together a top-notch coaching staff."
Holt, 46, the Trojans' defensive line coach and defensive coordinator from 2006 through 2008, had also served as USC's linebackers coach from 2001 to 2003. In between, during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, he was head coach at Idaho, where he'd previously worked a defensive coordinator.
The 2008 Trojans completed the regular season as the nation's No. 1 defense, leading the FBS in total defense (206.08 yards per game), scoring defense (7.75 points per game), pass defense (122.83) and pass efficiency defense (81.46). USC was also No. 5 in rushing defense (83.25 yards per game). The '08 Trojans posted three shutouts and held eight of 12 regular-season opponents to seven or fewer points.
Those dominant stats topped a year-by-year improvement since Holt took over as defensive coordinator in 2006. In 2005, USC ranked 48th in the nation in total defense and 35th in scoring defense. The following season, Holt's first as coordinator, the Trojans improved to 20th in total defense, 11th in scoring defense and ninth (tied) in rushing defense.
The trend continued in 2007 as the Trojans finished the year as the country's No. 2-ranked team in both total and scoring defense, while finishing fourth in rush defense and sixth in pass efficiency defense.
Holt has helped produce an impressive list of defensive linemen during his most recent stint at USC. This season, end Fili Moala earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors while Clay Matthews was a second-team selection and Kyle Moore earned honorable mention.
Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis earned first-team All-America in 2006 and 2007, was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and twice won the Morris Trophy before being drafted by New Orleans with the seventh overall pick of the 2007 draft.
End Lawrence Jackson was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2007 before the Seahawks drafted him 28th overall.
In his previous term at USC, as linebackers coach, he mentored All-Pac-10 first-teamer Matt Grootegoed, as well as future All-American Lofa Tatupa, now a star with the Seahawks.
A graduate of Bellarmine Prep in San Jose, Calif., Holt went on to an outstanding playing career as a linebacker at the University of the Pacific, earning four letters and honorable mention All-America honors in 1985, when he was the Tigers' MVP and team captain.
After working one season as an assistant coach at St. Mary's High School in Stockton, Calif., Holt began his college coaching career as a graduate assistant at UNLV in 1987. After a season in that role, he was promoted to defensive line coach for the Rebels, holding that spot for two seasons.
In 1990, he was hired as defensive line coach at Idaho under head coach John L. Smith. He held that role through 1993 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 1994. Holt was coordinator and defensive line coach for a season and then, after Smith left, served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Chris Tormey for three seasons (1995-97). In 1994, the Vandals ranked first in NCAA Division I-AA in rush defense and then ranked fifth in that same category in 1995.
From 1998 to 2000, Holt once again worked under Smith, spending three years as defensive line coach at Louisville, which finished second in the nation in rushing defense and set a school record for sacks (50, good for second in the nation) in 2000. Then, in 2001, he moved on to USC, where he worked as linebackers coach under Carroll. After helping the Trojans to the national championship in 2003, he was named head coach at Idaho in 2004.
A 1986 graduate of Pacific, with a bachelor's degree in political economics, Holt and his wife Julie (the former head women's basketball coach at Pacific, Gonzaga and Idaho) have two sons, Nick and Ben.