With Petersen off to Washington, Boise State tabs Gregory to coach bowl game

December 6, 2013 

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen is headed to the University of Washington. The Pac-12 school announced Petersen's hire on Friday morning.

Petersen will not coach the Broncos in their bowl game by mutual decision, according to school officials. The team has met and Petersen spoke to the players.

Linebackers coach Bob Gregory, a former defensive coordinator at Cal and Boise State (2001), was named the interim head coach for the bowl game. The Broncos are scheduled to practice Saturday and Sunday. They should know their bowl destination by Sunday at the latest.

Petersen is not expected to speak to the media until his introductory press conference Monday in Seattle.

"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."

Senior punter Trevor Harman spoke to the media this morning.

"Coach Pete was one of the main reasons why I came here," he said. "He's a great person, a great coach, a great person all around. It's sad, it really is."

Harman was surprised to wake up to the news of Petersen's departure after years of rumors.

"This actually happened," he said. "All of the four or five years that I've been here, we've always heard rumors — Cal, Stanford, Washington. All the rumors and it's finally happened.

"This team is going to move on. They’re going to do a great job. Congratulations to Coach Pete."

ESPN reported Petersen's hire earlier on Friday and the Idaho Statesman confirmed it. According to a story on the Huskies' website, Petersen agreed to terms of a deal Thursday night in Boise but went home to talk to his wife, Barb, and sleep on the decision. He accepted Friday morning.

The deal reportedly will make him one of the highest paid coaches in the Pac-12, according to ESPN's source, who added that Petersen is ready for a new challenge.

The Broncos and Huskies are scheduled to meet in the 2015 season opener at Bronco Stadium. The game is scheduled for a Thursday or Friday on ESPN. Washington would have to pay $2 million to cancel it.

Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle and President Bob Kustra released statements Friday morning.

“We wish Chris Petersen and his family all the best in their future endeavors," Coyle said. "Chris is an outstanding coach and role model, and we know he’ll be successful at Washington. We have started a national search for our next head football coach at Boise State and will work tirelessly to find the perfect fit to continue the ascension of Bronco football."

Added Kustra: "I know Bronco Nation joins me in thanking Chris Petersen for all he did to advance Boise Sate’s football program over the past 13 years. He is not only a great coach but a great person and an asset to the community. We were lucky to have him at Boise State and Washington is lucky to get him. We wish Chris and Barbara the very best.

"Boise State fans, players and students know this program was built one brick at a time, with a succession of coaches who moved us to the next level. Our program has advanced steadily with an amazing amount of success through all those years, and we will be looking forward, not backward, making sure that we continue that success. Bronco Nation deserves no less."

The Statesman reported Thursday night that Petersen met with University of Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward in Boise to discuss the Huskies’ coaching vacancy, according to booster Travis Hawkes.

A private flight from Seattle landed at the Boise Airport at 8:02 p.m. Thursday. The people on board immediately got into a black car headed to a Boise hotel, according to airport sources. Woodward and a woman returned to the plane 2 hours, 10 minutes later and left — without Petersen. The meeting lasted about 90 minutes.

Earlier Thursday, amid reports from ESPN and The Seattle Times that Petersen would interview with Washington on Friday, Boise State spokesman Max Corbet said Petersen was in his office Thursday and would be again Friday.

That left an opening on Thursday night.

Boise State begins bowl practices Saturday and should know where it plays no later than Sunday.

Petersen interviewed for the USC job earlier in the week, according to multiple media reports. USC hired Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, which opened the Pac-12 job in Seattle.

Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com tweeted Thursday night that Petersen withdrew from the USC search because of philosophical differences.

“His vision didn’t mesh with how (Athletic Director) Pat Haden wants things run,” Feldman tweeted.

Petersen has not been available to the media since his postgame press conference Saturday.

Boise State President Bob Kustra said in a statement to the Statesman on Thursday morning, “We are fully committed to Coach Petersen remaining at Boise State and, as always, intend to do everything in our power to support him as Boise State’s football coach.’’

Petersen is off to one of the greatest coaching starts in college football history. He is 92-12 (88.5 percent) in eight seasons, including two Fiesta Bowl titles (2006 and 2009 seasons) and two Bear Bryant National Coach of the Year Awards. He has led the Broncos to undefeated regular seasons in 2006, 2008 and 2009, to conference titles in 2006, 2008-10 and 2012 and to Top 25 rankings in 2006 and from 2008 to 2012.

The Broncos are 8-4 this season — their worst season in Petersen’s tenure.

He has been approached often about job opportunities, including by several Pac-12 schools, but has chosen to stay in Boise. Most notably, he withdrew from consideration for the Stanford job after the 2010 season when Boise State promised to build a state-of-the-art facility.

The Bleymaier Football Complex opened last summer.

Petersen has worked at Boise State for 13 years. He was the offensive coordinator under Dan Hawkins from 2001 to 2005, and became the head coach in 2006.

Petersen said in July that he considers his stay at Boise State “year to year.” He said he appreciated that his oldest son, Jack, was able to attend first through 12th grades in Boise, but hinted that a change may be looming.

“I was always thinking that would be such an awesome thing,” he said at the Mountain West media preview this summer in Las Vegas. “And it has been awesome. But you can also make the case sometimes where, maybe we sheltered our kids too much now by not getting them to different places. But in this day and age in college football, pro football, whatever, to be able to have some stability, we’ve been lucky."

Petersen is scheduled to make $2,348,000 in 2014. He has five years left on his contract, which extends each time he wins eight games, and has a $750,000 buyout. He was contractually obligated to coach the Broncos in their bowl game even if he takes another job “to minimize the impact on the program" but that won't happen.

At Washington, Petersen could be reunited with former Broncos defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox (2006-09), who has not yet followed Sarkisian to USC.

READ MORE: Reactions in Boise and beyond to news of Coach Petersen's potential depature

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