Chris Petersen left Boise State, assuming control of the Washington Huskies following Steve Sarkisian’s departure for USC. Bruce Feldman reported earlier this season Petersen felt it may be time to move on. From the moment he consented to interview with the Huskies, it was clear there would not be much of an interview process. Washington did not intend to hire a new coach heading into 2014. But, with the coach many projected for USC or Texas, they may come out far ahead of those that did.
This was the right time for Petersen to leave Boise State. The game is changing. The Mountain West Conference is not what it was, even a couple years ago. Under the BCS Boise State had to go undefeated to even be relevant. The four-team playoff and slanted revenue distribution will only concentrate resources with the power conferences and restrict access further. That’s before you get to Boise’s rebuilding project and the longer odds of finding diamonds with a very deep stable of Pac 12 coaches trying to do the same. Moving forward, for Petersen, meant moving on.
Washington can be a great job. The Huskies offer perhaps the ideal environment for Petersen. West Coast. Major program resources. Laid back and low key media environment. They have a renovated stadium and facilities. The talent level is much better and much deeper than when Sark took over. Washington loses Keith Price and will probably lose Sankey and Seferian-Jenkins to the NFL Draft. But the Huskies will return veteran lines on both sides and be well-placed to compete. They also look to have a quarterback of the future in Cyler Miles.
Washington has been an elite program in the past. Running at full throttle, it may be the best job behind USC.
Petersen may be the nation’s best coach. Petersen has done the most with the least. He has done an unparalleled job scouting and developing players. He had one four-star recruit his entire time at Boise State, yet had eight of his players were drafted in the first three rounds since 2008, just one fewer than Ohio State. That’s not counting those, such as Kellen Moore, who were incredible college players without NFL measurables.
Petersen has sustained success, 92 conference wins and five conference titles in seven seasons, despite coordinator turnover. He has beaten some of the biggest names in the sport: Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia. Both track records will go down well, at a school that has struggled to win more than seven games and has lost nine of its last 10 against Stanford and Oregon.
There are some concerns, though. How good of a recruiter will Petersen be? He clearly can evaluate talent. But this job is not just finding players. It is convincing found players to come to Washington. Petersen does not need to land every kid. But that influx of top-flight talent can be the difference between competing for a conference title and struggling to make a bowl game. He also must get off to a hot start. The Pac 12 is not the Mountain West. It is deep and getting deeper. Transition years are not 8-4. Things can snowball on you quickly (see 0-11 vs. FBS Cal).
Washington hiring Petersen is a risk – so is any hire – but it’s one that could come with a great reward. They may have been the right place at the right time. But a little luck is seldom a bad thing.
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