News broke on Friday morning that Chris Petersen has been named the new head football coach at the University of Washington, and eyes awkwardly shifted to USC, a program that interviewed but ultimately passed on Petersen in its own coaching search.
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward released a statement about the new hire:
Coach Petersen's success and record are extraordinary, but even more impressive is the man himself. His integrity, work ethic and character make him an outstanding fit and leader of our student-athletes at UW. We are thrilled and proud to call Coach Petersen a Husky.
While the Huskies may be thrilled, there are many in Southern California looking on enviously, wondering what UW had that USC didn't or what Woodward saw in Petersen that Trojans athletic director Pat Haden didn't.
Steve Sarkisian's hiring has been rather underwhelming in the first place, so will USC come to regret letting Petersen walk?
As flashy as it would have been for the Trojans to land Petersen, USC won't miss him, because he wasn't the guy Haden wanted.
According to Ryan Phillips of RumorsandRants.com, Haden chose to pass on Petersen because he interviewed poorly.
"Petersen’s interview left a lot to be desired. USC’s people were expecting to have him emerge as the leader after meeting with him, but instead left with more questions than answers," Phillips said.
Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports backed that up on Thursday, when he tweeted about Petersen interviewing for the UW job:
Furthermore, Petersen's ability to replicate success in a market like Los Angeles is pretty questionable. Under Petersen, the Broncos went 92-12, won five conference titles and two BCS bowl games. In its second season in the Mountain West Conference, however, Boise State slipped to 8-4 this year and has all but faded from memory on the national scene.
If Petersen could not continue to contend in the Mountain West, could he really flourish in the Pac-12 and, more specifically, Los Angeles?
On that note, Petersen's ability to recruit in LA came with doubts. He doesn't know the landscape nor does he have the connections in Los Angeles that help feed top talent to Troy. Sarkisian, on the other hand, knows those pipelines very well. He knows the bigwigs at the Orange County powerhouses like Mater Dei and Mission Viejo, as well as those at the inner-city schools like Dorsey and St. John Bosco.
Washington is a good fit for Petersen because he has experience recruiting there and luring talent out of the Pacific Northwest. He doesn't have that clout in Los Angeles, and to develop would take more time than USC is willing to spare.
Phillips also addresses something else that took Petersen out of the running for the job: his personality.
"On Sunday, USC met with Petersen again and after discussions both sides agreed that it just wasn’t a fit. There were major concerns about how Petersen would handle the media in Los Angeles and some feared his personality was too similar to Kiffin’s," Phillips said.
We all know that the Los Angeles media market is one that lends great power to those in it, but with that comes great responsibility. USC's athletic department had doubts as to whether Petersen's vibe would mesh well in LA, and we know how important that is to being successful at USC.
Found Chris Petersen to be a fascinating guy. Can be very engaging and thoughtful and self-effacing. Just not a guy who likes attn/spotlight— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 6, 2013
Sarkisian is quickly changing the opinion of his hiring because he has a warm, engaging presence and a certain Pete Carroll-esque quality that makes him easy to like. Petersen didn't have that, so keeping the media on his side would have been tough.
Should USC Have Hired Chris Petersen or Steve Sarkisian?
Considering his record alone, Petersen seems like a much better hiring than Sarkisian, and USC fans will likely be envious of UW until next season starts, when both coaches actually get to work proving themselves. But in taking into consideration the multitude of factors that went into the hiring, USC still made the right choice in Sarkisian over the other candidates up for the job.