Chris Petersen

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

On Monday morning, then-Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen shocked the college football world by resigning as head coach following their bowl game next month. 

Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Lake was named as his successor. Immediately following the announcement, speculation ran rampant of what Petersen would do next. Was he USC-bound? What about the NFL? Would he be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys?

Official word is that Petersen will transition into an advisory role with the Huskies, at least, in the immediate future. 

At his press conference today, Petersen discussed if he’s done coaching when asked. 

I’m not falling into that trick question...my whole plan is to get rested, to get recharged, and get redirected. Like the one thing I know is that I’m not ready to do nothing. I just gotta figure out where all this energy and this passion and inspiration goes. I don’t want it to be on the football field.

It sounds like Petersen doesn’t want to return to coaching football anytime soon. He's burned out, which is understandable considering how heavy and constant the workload is when running a program the size of Washington's. That position demands around the clock work hours between recruiting, game-planning, running practice, watching film, and oh, the actual games themselves.

Petersen said he likes being around people who strive for excellence, he loves people who are great at their jobs.  

The now former Huskies head coach becomes another in a recent trend of major programs having their coaches step down during their 50s. Other recent examples include Bob Stoops at Oklahoma (56) and Urban Meyer at Ohio State (54). In both cases, one of the coordinators was promoted in their place. And in both cases, they eventually returned to coaching.  

What Chris Petersen's shocking step down means for the Pac-12 Conference

What Chris Petersen's shocking step down means for the Pac-12 Conference

A shocking shake-up to the Pac-12 Conference was announced Monday morning. Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced that he is stepping down as head coach of Washington Huskies football after the bowl game, giving way to current defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.

"I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge," Petersen said.

Washington finished third in the Pac-12 North Division, going 7-5 overall and 4-5 in conference play. Petersen will transition into a leadership advisory role for Husky Athletics. In his six seasons at

Washington, Petersen led the Huskies to two Pac-12 Championships (2016, 2018), the 2016 College Football Playoffs, and three consecutive New Years Six bowl games.

If this news raises your eyebrows, you aren’t the only one.

Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham, the most tenured coach in the conference (15 years), learned of the coaching change on the Pac-12 Championship teleconference call and responded with utter shock.

“Wow. I would have never thought that,” Whittingham said. “Chris Peterson is one of the finest coaches in the country, there are a handful of guys you respect and admire as a coach. Petersen is one of my guys.”

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, who is undefeated in his two seasons against the Petersen coached Huskies, also was surprised.

“I literally got off the field and I heard the news,” Cristobal said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Petersen. He's had a great career. Certainly wish nothing but the best for him and his family."

What does this mean for Washington and how does this affect the conference?

During any coaching change, recruiting sharks will emerge in attempt to steer prospects to other Pac-12 coaches. UW’s 2020 recruiting class ranks second in the Pac-12, behind Oregon and 16th nationally.  

However, don’t expect UW to take too big of a hit in recruiting, as Lake is Washington’s top recruiter. The initial transition may cause some prospects to re-open their recruitements, but retaining and promoting Lake could strengthen UW’s future recruiting classes.

Lake has been on Petersen's staff since 2012 at Boise State, was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2016 and has been the Huskies' sole defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He previously coached defensive backs for six years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Under Lake between 2015 and 2018, UW led the Pac-12 in total defense and scoring defense. 

How long Petersen wants to “re-charge” is unclear and unknown. His name will certainly be in talks for open NFL coaching jobs and any vacant college coaching jobs (cough, USC, cough).

Breaking: Chris Petersen to step down as Huskies head coach

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USATI

Breaking: Chris Petersen to step down as Huskies head coach

Shocking news out of Seattle. The University of Washington announced Monday that head football coach Chris Petersen will step down following the team's bowl game. 

In a statement released by the school, Petersen said "It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution... I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach our fine young men on Montlake for these past six seasons. I thank each of them, as well as our coaches and administrative staff for the incredible commitment they've made to Husky football during my tenure. The football program and Husky Athletics across the board will continue to prosper, and do it the right way, with Jen Cohen's leadership and the University administration's commitment to excellence. I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge."

Petersen spent six seasons with the Huskies, going 54-26 over that span and winning the Pac-12 Conference title in 2016 and 2018. Prior to arriving at Washington, Petersen was the head coach for the Boise State Broncos. In eight seasons at Boise State, he led to team to a 92-12 record and an improbable win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. For his career, Petersen holds a record of 148-38, and his .793 winning percentage ranks second among active coaches with at least five years at the helm.

Washington has already named defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake as his successor. 

You can read the school's full press release HERE.

Hot Hollywood scene and instant Pac-12 Media Day takeaways

Hot Hollywood scene and instant Pac-12 Media Day takeaways

Los Angeles- It was 100 degrees in Hollywood and the Pac-12 Conference is heating up ahead of the 2019 football season.

THE SCENE

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, linebacker Troy Dye and coach Mario Cristobal oozed confidence and comfort with the media at the annual Pac-12 Media Day. Pac-12 North coaches raved about Herbert’s talent while reeling for an answer on how to defend the possible 2020 NFL Draft top quarterback selection.

“Seems like Herbert has been there forever,” said Washington State coach Mike Leach of the four-year starter. “Somehow they granted him 10 years of eligibility.”

Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith, running back Jermar Jefferson and wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins wore the word “urgency” printed on their wristbands, while preaching improvement and a mentality shift.

TAKEAWAYS

Border War heat

I’d argue the rivalry between Oregon and Washington has never been hotter and Herbert agrees with me. The Ducks narrowly edged the Huskies to win the North Division among 35 voting media members (who picked the Utes to win the South and the conference). I asked Herbert and Dye, “Does it feel good to top their rival in the media poll?” Refreshingly, the Eugene-native Herbert grabbed the mic, smiled and said yes, it confirmed and recognized much of the hard work that UO has been putting in.

After being upset in overtime in Eugene, Washington coach Chris Peterson downplayed this season’s October 19th game at Husky Stadium, urging the “one game at a time” mindset.

You don’t want to see Mario Cristobal when he’s angry

Hollywood equals Blockbuster movies, so which Superhero movie would Ducks star in? Herbert would be Iron Man, Dye loves Captain America and both Ducks said Cristobal would be Hulk, because they are afraid of him when he’s angry.

Justin Herbert, most interesting person at media day

Herbert, who is on most short lists for this season’s Heisman Trophy, was named first-team quarterback in landslide fashion. The senior received a first-team nod on 31 of 33 media members ballots. Herbert’s decision to return for his senior season surprised everyone, except those who know him, Cristobal mentioned that it was a less difficult decision than it may have seemed.

Teammate Dye called Herbert a “clown” and admitted that Herbert is much funnier than his serious disposition suggests. Herbert, Dye and the entire senior class went on a bonding retreat to Sunriver, Oregon this summer to ride ATVs. 

Pac-12 opponents praised his off-field poise, but also explained that Herbert is the athlete that everyone hates to love, because of the problems his talent creates for defenses.

Terror Troy Dye

Dye is “stronger and smarter than he looks,” says Herbert. After forgoing the 2019 NFL Draft, Dye’s reign of terror on Pac-12 offenses will continue and I predict the senior will take down the Oregon record for career tackles, set in 1971.

The linebacker, who was named to first-team defense, is undoubtedly he leader of Oregon’s 2019 defense. At media day, he divulged that he revels in competing with Herbert. His favorite thing to do is try to intercept Herbert’s passes.

Wake surfing, so hot right now

It’s always fun to see how coaches spend their offseason when they aren’t recruiting or preparing. Peterson and Smith like to go boating and both coaches enjoy to wake surfing, which is basically wake board without being strapped into a board. This summer was the first time Smith has ever successfully surfed and Cal coach Justin Wilcox said he needed photo proof. Wilcox is more of a paddleboard guy.

OSU defense making strides

Oregon State’s defense has to be better than last season, right? The Beavers could not stop anyone. Outside of a 48-25 home win over Southern Utah, Oregon State allowed at least 34 points in every other game last season.

In Smith’s second year as head coach, he specified the outside linebackers as the defensive position group that has seen the most growth. He also mentioned the new additions are extremely important for their depth and competition in the position rooms.

Versatile Jermar Johnson

Following a sensational freshman season, Johnson has benefitted from an offseason of weight-lifting and conditioning at the college level. He gained muscle, set new max’s and lowered his body fat. His versatility will be a major strength for OSU’s offense this season, as the sophomore has been working on catching passes out of the backfield.

Mario Cristobal shifts Ducks' recruiting into overdrive, but will he win?

Mario Cristobal shifts Ducks' recruiting into overdrive, but will he win?

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal received more questions about one particular subject during Pac-12 media day today in Hollywood, Calif. 

Not about quarterback Justin Herbert, although several were asked. Not about the defense. Not about the tough competition in the Pac-12 North Division. 

No, the topic Cristobal was most asked about revolved around recruiting. 

Maybe that's because if there is one aspect of being a major college coach that everyone knows Cristobal has down it is recruiting. Oregon landed four four-star recruits in the past week to launch its national class ranking up to No. 3 on Rivals.com and to No. 4 on 247sports.com's composite rankings. 

"Talent acquisition is always going to be one of the three parts that make a program what it is," Cristobal told reporters. "So we're very aggressive, but we're aggressive when we identify something that we see that really fits us at Oregon, what we want to be and what we want to become."

What UO wants to become is champions, something that hasn't happened since the Ducks won the Pac-12 championship and a Rose Bowl playoff game in 2014, two head coaches ago. Cristobal enters his first season at the helm of UO's program facing the daunting task of living up to those expectations. 

We all know former coach Mark Helfrich could win. He led that 2014 team. But Helfrich struggled to recruit at a high level and player discipline lacked under his watch. A 4-8 season in 2016 did him in. His replacement, Willie Taggart, at this time last season had the No. 1-ranked class in the nation according to Scout.com. He has demonstrated that he can coach by turning around three programs. But he left for Florida State after a 7-6 season last year. 

The Ducks turned to Taggart's former co-offensive coordinator, Cristobal, named recruiter of the year in 2015 while an assistant at Alabama. His one prior stint as a head coach resulted in a 27-48 record at Florida International, but that record includes lean years while rebuilding one of the nation's worst programs, one that didn't have an adequate weight room when he arrived.  

Cristobal has the state-of-the-art everything at Oregon. He parlayed that into a No 18 ranked recruiting class in February after salvaging what he could after Taggart's departure. But another thing Cristobal did after Taggart left was lose 38-28 to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

That is the only time Cristobal has taken the field as Oregon's coach and it resulted in an ugly mess. Even with Herbert at quarterback, the Ducks managed just one offensive touchdown through 57 minutes of action. The team averaged 51 points in the seven games Herbert started under Taggart. 

The Pac-12 media poll pegged the Ducks to be the third best team in the North Division. That's fair. There is no reason why Oregon should fall behind California or Oregon State. But with Herbert a year older, there is also zero reason why the Ducks can't finish second behind seemingly unbeatable Washington, reach nine victories with an embarrassingly soft non-conference schedule and win a second-tier bowl game. 

Those are realistic expectations for a team that went 7-2 with Herbert healthy last season. 

Oregon's talent won't overwhelm the top teams in the conference. Where Cristobal will be tested is in his ability to out-scheme opposing coaches at this level and steal a win or two against the top teams on the schedule. Cristobal got that done for the most part at FIU and his ability to turn that program around bodes well for his potential to win with the Ducks. Still, this is a different level. The Pac-12 boasts coaches the caliber of Stanford's David Shaw, Washington's Chris Petersen, Arizona's Kevin Sumlin and UCLA's Chip Kelly, to name a handful.

The latter, of course, won three conference titles at Oregon and created the somewhat warped expectations that helped lead to Helfrich losing his job and now hang over Cristobal. 

If Cristobal is going to make a splash, he'd better do it quickly because there is no guarantee that he will ever have a quarterback of Herbert's level on the roster again, even if the team's overall talent level continues to rise thanks to quality recruiting under his watch. 

None of this is to say that Cristobal will fail. The hunch here is that he will not run the program into the ground. But delivering a championship will be a tall order in an era where Washington and USC are humming. We just don't know if Cristobal is ready to guide a winning program in an FBS conference, or how long he will be given to figure things out should he fail to do so right away. 

But we're about to find out. And the journey should prove to be quite entertaining. 

QB change? Ducks were just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

QB change? Ducks were just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

It was a controversial move by Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich last week when he decided to turn the keys to his team's offense over to true freshman Justin Herbert. Was this the right time? Why not wait until after a bye week? Why do it against one of the nation's hungriest, quarterback-gobbling teams?

Well, Helfrich probably knew something we didn't know -- that it didn't matter. Herbert played just fine for a freshman. It was not a special performance but he seemed to get through it without injury, which was one of my concerns. What difference does it make who plays quarterback if you're going to allow 70 points?

Helfrich's move was just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Ducks are sinking fast. Might as well play the young kid if you're going to get your tailfeathers kicked anyway. At this point, Oregon needs to forget about that "Win The Day" stuff and think about "Win A Day." Or "Win A Game."

A bowl game? Seems impossible at this point.

Yes, the Huskies have more talent than Oregon -- the result of apparently out-recruiting everyone in the conference by a wide margin over the last couple of years. But should we be surprised? No -- Coach Chris Petersen beat Pac-12 teams with players he could attract to Boise, Idaho -- he ought to be able to recruit better ones to Seattle. You may remember Petersen, by the way. He'll forever be known as the guy Oregon should have begged to take its head-coaching position when it gift-wrapped the job for Helfrich.

But that's ancient history, as is Oregon's swagger and aura of dominance. The Ducks were never in this game... never made anyone think they had a tiny chance of winning. All the glitz, glitter and glamor of the Oregon program -- the locker rooms, the uniforms, the study center, the medical treatment facility, all of it -- has suddenly been rendered meaningless. The Ducks used to have teams beaten when they strutted out on the field behind that motorcycle. But those days are gone.

All season, Duck apologists have been whistling the same tune: "Fans have been spoiled. Don't panic. Every team goes through times like this. These guys were in the national championship just a couple of seasons ago. It's cyclical and this is just a momentary speed bump."

It doesn't look like that to me. In college football, if the recruiting and coaching slides just a little bit, the dropoff in performance can be steep. It can go fast -- very fast. If you aren't moving forward you are falling behind. Just repeating what's been done before simply doesn't work.

All those things that used to be Oregon advantages are now commonplace, just a couple of years later.

Oregon beat teams with its tempo and an innovative spread offense -- which has little impact now because everyone is doing it. The uniforms were a big recruiting deal -- but a lot of teams are fiddling around with their uniforms. Fancy locker rooms? Just about everybody in the conference has built a new operations center, locker room, practice area, study center and/or training facility.

What's left is coaching, which also means recruiting. And keeping players focused.

Look, I'm not in that locker room or on the sidelines but for all those people who are saying they are worried the Ducks might quit on this season, I must tell you -- it sure appeared they've already quit.

And really, that's the best possible excuse for what happened Saturday night in Autzen.

Because if it's strictly a talent issue... If the Ducks didn't quit, well, it's a sobering thought for this program to come to grips with suddenly being 50 points worse than a team it had beaten 12 seasons in a row.