Brian Murphy: It was time for Petersen to move on

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comDecember 8, 2013 


The picture is jarring. New football coach Chris Petersen is standing in Husky Stadium, on the very green grass, near the “W” midfield logo.

Petersen, in a Washington jacket, looks as if he is taking in the new surroundings — one of the most beautiful in college football. Washington circulated the photo Saturday night, trumpeting its new coach.

The move was so swift, so sudden.

Pete in purple?


Petersen was coaching on the blue turf at Bronco Stadium in his familiar Boise State garb one Saturday ago. If not for an overtime loss at San Diego State, he (presumably) would have been coaching the Broncos on Saturday evening in Fresno, Calif., instead of meeting with his new Washington players and posing for photos in Husky Stadium.

As odd (or disturbing, depending on your perspective) as it is to see Petersen in such an unfamiliar setting, there is also a certain sense that it was time for him to make a move.

In numerous conversations during the past week, people familiar with the program in all sorts of capacities have given me a similar reaction: I knew it was coming, or it’s not that surprising.

Hindsight is 20/20 in most cases, and this one is no different.

Was Petersen dropping hints all along?

Was the coach burned out on Boise State, on having to be perfect to be in the national conversation?

Was the (muted) negative reaction to an 8-4 season what it took to push him into the waiting arms of the Huskies?

Was the realization that Petersen was competing against a ghost at Boise State — the ghost of 2006 and 2010 and the Kellen Moore era — what finally did it?

Petersen left town without an explanation, leaving an information void filled with speculation and conjecture as to why, after passing on so many opportunities to leave Boise, he finally chose to do so with Washington.

My theory, informed mostly by eight seasons of covering Petersen, is that Petersen decided to leave Boise State long before he decided to join Washington.

In 2011, when Petersen spurned Stanford (a job he came very close to taking before deciding to remain in Boise for Moore’s senior season and with the promise of expedited construction on a new football facility), he told the media that it was less about a fit at Stanford.

“It was more about Boise State, just being in a place we love. We said this many times, this is a tough job. It seems like it’s all fun and games at all times, but go through this 24/7 year-round. We’re always trying to figure out how to like our jobs a little bit,” Petersen said.

Petersen spoke a lot about fun this year. As in how sometimes the job isn’t all that much fun. As in there is a reason they call it a job.

It was time for a change. A new challenge. Something to make the job fun again.

Those who have spent time in the program or around it saw small signs that it was time.

Or, at least, that’s what they’re claiming now.

Thirteen years in one place can feel like forever.

“I don’t want to be lured away,” Petersen said in December of 2011.

I don’t think he was.

He decided it was time to go.

In Washington, he found an attractive place to go to — an ideal fit in so many ways.

Even if the sight of Petersen in purple will take some getting used to.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444; Twitter: @MurphsTurph

© 2013 Idaho Statesman

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