Former Cal football assistant and star recruiter Tosh Lupoi called his move to Washington last month "one of the toughest decisions I've ever gone through," but said he did not discuss the possibility of a new job with potential Cal recruits while considering it.
Making his first public comments at a press conference in Seattle -- all posted on the Seattle Times website -- Lupoi said the timing of the move was awkward but that he tried to make it in a professional manner.
Lupoi took the UW job on Jan. 16, the day after making home visits to Sacramento-area recruits Shaq Thompson and Arik Armstead on behalf of Cal.
Lupoi said the switch "kind of shocked some families and some young men" that he had been recruiting. "Obviously, I hadn't spoken a word about it to recruits (while) representing a different place."
A De La Salle High graduate, Lupoi, 30, spent 12 years at Cal as a player, grad assistant and full-time defensive line coach on Jeff Tedford's staff.
He was receiving much of the credit for what appeared to be a top-10 recruiting class for the Bears. But when Lupoi went to UW, several of the Bears' top prospects withdrew their oral commitments. Thompson wound up following Lupoi to Washington. Armstead, who was thought to be a Cal lean, signed with Oregon.
"Both great places, great people involved in both," Lupoi said of Cal and Washington. "(I) couldn't be more thankful to coach (Jeff) Tedford and all the relationships that I formed there. It was an awesome place and I left for an awesome opportunity here."
Lupoi received a three-year contract that will be worth an average of $416,000 per season, including bonuses, if he stays for the length of the deal. He joked about reports suggesting that he also received a boat from UW.
"Yeah, I haven't been on that boat," he said. "Maybe it's a canoe or something."
Lupoi said he was attracted by "the fit," not just the money.
Lupoi said he's aware of the backlash against him from some Cal fans, who believe he turned his back on his alma mater and contributed to diminishing what one recruiting expert called the Bears' "class of the ages."
"You move on and you find out real quickly who your real friends are," he said. "I have nothing but great things to say about that staff and the university and the opportunity I was offered there. I will never forget those times and am very appreciative of the alumni there and all my experiences at Cal."
Lupoi said he kept Tedford in the loop during his conversations with UW coach Steve Sarkisian, and had turned down the Huskies' initial offers. Lupoi said he doesn't believe Tedford was he finally took the job at UW..
"I think he was understanding of the opportunity that was offered here and the reasons to want to start something new," Lupoi said.
The hiring of new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox at Washington also "was obviously very instrumental for me in this decision," said Lupoi, who played for him at Cal when Wilcox was the Bears' linebackers coach from 2003-05. The two have maintained a close relationship.
Lupoi believes he will be just as effective recruiting for Washington as he was at Cal. He said the primary selling points for any school should be quality of education, the football program's tradition and the reputation of the head coach.
"If a young man is making a decision based solely off of the recruiting coach or position coach, then I honestly think his priorities are probably not at the right place," Lupoi said.