Huskies Settle on NFL's John Donovan as New Offensive Mind

Dan Raley

He was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at a high-profile college football program who quickly was second-guessed by the fan base for his play-calling and fired after two seasons.

This happened to Washington's Bush Hamdan.

John Donovan, Hamdan's replacement, experienced this career path, as well.

On Friday, Washington announced the hiring of the well-traveled Donovan as offensive coordinator, pulling him from the NFL ranks and the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he most recently was an assistant running backs coach. 

The Huskies are hoping Donovan, 45, can re-ignite an offense that bogged down at times in 2019 during an 8-5 season and can groom a new quarterback to replace NFL-bound Jacob Eason. 

The New Jersey native previously served as an offensive coordinator for Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference, where he enjoyed success, and at Penn State, where he didn't and was let go in 2015. 

Lake, who coached in the NFL at Tampa Bay in two stints, was famous for saying he knows the Chris Petersen recipe and would follow it (in the video here), actually mirrored his own coaching journey in making this hire.

"Coach Donovan has a great deal of experience at both the college and NFL levels, learning from a lot of great offensive minds about coaching the kind of aggressive, pro-style offense we want here at Washington," Lake said in a statement released by the school. "From my own experience, I know how much a coach can learn and grow by spending significant time in the NFL."

Donovan, a New Jersey native, spent the past four seasons with the Jaguars. In 2017, he worked closely with quarterback Blake Bortles who had success during a 10-6 season. He also spent time with the running backs and tight ends.

At Vanderbilt, he headed up a 2012 offense that churned out 4,936 yards and averaged 30.1 points per game largely against SEC competition. 

In his 19-year career, Donovan also had coaching stops at Villanova, Georgia Tech and Maryland. 

"I couldn't be more excited to be a part of such a great university, with unbelievable football tradition, like the University of Washington," Donovan said. "Thanks to Coach Lake and everyone involved for this opportunity, and I'm looking forward to getting started."

Comments (5)
No. 1-4

This is totally random. What the hell are we doing?


I'm going to trust in Lake and reserve judgement until we see the product on the field. But wow, this is pretty underwhelming on the surface


I just love all the experts that know more than Jimmy!😂. Also, pretty sure Jimmy tapped into Coach Pete and others for input and advice

Dan Raley
Dan Raley


It's always a chess match. What people forget is the most important thing is to have players who get it done. You can only point them in the right direction. Donovan is 14 years old than Hamdan, 14 years more experienced.