Boise State head coach Chris Petersen will be hired as the head coach at Washington, the school confirmed Friday in a release, ending his storied run as the head coach of the Boise State Broncos.
"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," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said. "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, 49, has been a West Coast guy nearly his entire life. After a brief playing career as a quarterback in college, Petersen turned to coaching upon receiving his bachelor's degree in psychology. His first coaching gig came in 1987 at UC Davis as the head coach of the freshman team; he later became the wide receivers coach with the varsity squad. After a brief stint at Pittsburgh and Portland State as the quarterbacks coach, Petersen landed his first big job at Oregon as the receivers coach in 1995.
After six seasons in Eugene, Boise State came calling. Petersen became the offensive coordinator for the Broncos in 2001 and held the position until 2005, when he was named head coach. Under his reign, Boise State reached the highest of highs in program history, posting an 92-12 mark over his eight seasons with two BCS Bowl victories. His program was so dominant, fans can remember virtually every loss.
SB Nation's One Bronco Nation Under God blog has a look back on some of Petersen's top games. Washington blog UW Dawg Pound evaluated Petersen's candidate profile. And here's the local reaction to the hire.
In just his first year on the job, the Broncos completed a perfect 13-0 season with a Fiesta Bowl win. After two more impressive seasons in 2007 and 2008, Petersen led BSU to a 14-0 record and another Fiesta Bowl title in 2009. The team finished fourth in both major top-25 polls, prompting debate about whether or not the Broncos should've been given a shot at the national championship. His undermanned Broncos have taken down power programs such as Georgia, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia Tech. Even his bad teams are really good.
This year, Boise State slowed down a bit, going 8-4 in the regular season with a season-opening blowout loss to, you guessed it, Washington. The Huskies' head coach, Steve Sarkisian, took the head coaching job at USC -- one that Petersen reportedly backed out of. Sarkisian brought the Washington program out of its status as a perennial bottom-feeder and into very good position as a legitimate Pac-12 contender, with an 8-4 season this year considered a disappointment despite the fact that it was Sarkisian's highest win total yet. Petersen will look to take the Huskies to the next level, bringing his focus on line play and defense to Seattle.
Chris Petersen never had a Boise State team with as much talent as Washington has now. Should be fun to watch.— UW Dawg Pound (@UWSBN) December 6, 2013
The primary concern going forward? Dan Hawkins and Dirk Koetter, highly successful Boise State coaches who were fired after a combined 59-73 record at their next destination -- Colorado for Hawkins, Arizona State for Koetter. What makes Petersen different?
Petersen is a decent recruiter, but a spectacular evaluator of talent. He has done a terrific job developing quarterbacks during his tenure, including Kellen Moore, the winningest college quarterback ever. In 2012, Boise State had more NFL Draft picks than all but three other schools, despite being a remote non-AQ.
Petersen has been the white whale of college football coaching rumors for years now, with USC, Arkansas, Florida, Penn State, UCLA, Stanford, and Wisconsin among those reported to have taken a run at him. His coaching tree includes Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin (hired after ASU began fashioning itself "the Boise State of the South"), former Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox (rumored to be heading to USC with Sarkisian) and former Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease.