This is a brilliant hire. It’s simple, really.
Washington landed the man that many assumed would never leave his now-former post. After turning down offers from major schools over the years—and even drawing significant interest from notable schools earlier this week—Chris Petersen is taking is immense talents to Seattle.
ESPN’s Joe Schad first reported on the hire after rumors of interest on both sides began to leak on late Thursday night. Washington confirmed the hire on Friday, and athletic director Scott Woodward discussed just what Petersen's presence will mean.
On behalf of the University of Washington and the entire Husky Nation, I am proud to welcome Chris Petersen as our new head football coach. 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.
Petersen’s name has come up plenty in recent years. He has been connected to a variety of searches—from UCLA, to USC, to Texas, to Wisconsin—pretty much every major vacancy imaginable. The interest, however, has always only reached a surface level, a point brought on more by media speculation than anything else.
The speculation between the two began once the job opened up earlier this week, although the interest felt different given the “fit” between Petersen and the Huskies. Only days later, the speculation was realized.
For Petersen, Washington seems like an ideal fit. He’s never been one for the spotlight and headlines, something CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman noted while dissecting the hire.
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
Washington certainly meets those qualifications. Petersen will be tucked away from the bright lights of Los Angeles and in a geographical area he knows remarkably well.
As for the Huskies, this move—and perhaps "coup" feels more appropriate—caps off an eventful week. What began with the departure of former coach Steve Sarkisian to USC ends with what many would consider an upgrade at the position.
That’s easy to say now—with absolutely no football results to go off of in their new destinations—but it’s also difficult to argue given Petersen’s incredible track record at his now-former school.
Since 2006, Petersen has put together an overall record of 92-12 and a bowl record of 5-2. What’s even more remarkable about this figure is that half of the losses have come in the past two seasons. Even in 2013—a down year by his remarkably high standards—Petersen won eight games while playing his backup quarterback throughout much of the year.
Aside from the latest departures, the loss of quarterback Kellen Moore and the overall drain of talent caught up with the team in time. After building one of the best defenses in the country in 2012, Petersen had to rebuild the unit this season with significant departures at every level.
Attracting marquee talent to Boise—even with the immense success of the school—has been a challenge. Since 2008, Petersen landed zero 4-star and 5-star recruits according to 247Sports’ recruiting rankings. Despite the lack of recruiting, however, his teams have always competed regardless of the perceived talent gap between his schools and some others.
The exception to this claim came during the first game of the season. Boise State traveled to Washington to help welcome the debut of the renovated Husky Stadium. The Broncos were blasted 38-6 in the new digs, a loss that prompted many to wonder if this was the beginning of the end of Petersen's Boise tenure.
Only months later, and this fascinating opening game suddenly has a much different feel. Petersen will return to the sideline wearing new colors, something that will take a little getting used to. While it's seemingly impossible to find holes in this hire, there will be adjustments.
Petersen will suddenly be expected to recruit. Not only that, but he will be competing on the recruiting road—and on the field, for that matter—in a conference that is suddenly stacked with proven coaches from top to the bottom.
Every coach in Pac-12 North now has either won a BCS bowl or won 10 games in a BCS conference except Sonny Dykes.— BCS Guru (@BCSGuru) December 6, 2013
What we do know, however, is that Petersen will inherit more talent than he has ever had. And there are few coaches in the country that have a track record of developing players quite like he did at Boise.
With ample resources, a more significant pool of money for assistants and the likelihood for sustainable recruiting success, Petersen is in the position to succeed.
And yes, quite simply, the man can really coach.