Tell Me Why We Were So Excited About Chris Petersen Again

I guess when your team gets a new head coach, you’re supposed to be all blindly excited and hope for the best, right?  That’s all part of being a fan.  When we brought in Sark, we were just elated to finally be out from under Tyrone Willingham’s winless thumb, it didn’t matter WHO we brought in.  Sark was a young, up-and-comer from a Pac-12 rival, and we were giving him his first shot at a head coaching gig.  He couldn’t be any WORSE!  And, in the end, he wasn’t any worse.

With Sark going back to USC – this time to be their head coach – the Huskies figured they needed to make a splash.  But, these are the Washington Huskies of the 21st century.  The odds of the next Don James walking through that door are slim-to-none.  If you want to make a splash, you’ve got to go out and bring in a big name.  Chris Petersen, we all figured, was that big name.

But, is he?  He was head coach of Boise State for eight years.  In that time, he won five conference championships:  four Western Athletic Conference titles, and one Mountain West Conference title.  He went 92-12 at Boise State, going down as the all-time leader in overall wins and winning percentage.  Unquestionably, he was great.  He led them to two Fiesta Bowl victories and four Top 10 finishes.

I would point out that there is something to be said for playing the bulk of your games in the WAC and the Mountain West.  If you string together enough 1-loss seasons – as his predecessor Dan Hawkins did, before taking a job with Colorado – you’re going to get some national recognition.  Sprinkle in a few high-profile, early-season victories over ranked opponents in your non-conference schedule, and look at you!  You’re in the BCS discussion!

I would also like to point out that Chris Petersen’s best team – the undefeated 2006 squad – was unquestionably Dan Hawkins’ team, as he left Boise State after the 2005 season.  What’s Petersen’s claim to fame?  A few trick plays in that Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma that netted them a 1-point victory in one of the most exciting college football games of all time.  I’d also point out that their other Fiesta Bowl victory was over TCU, another Boise State-esque mid-major and darling of the BCS era.

It’s nice that Chris Petersen was undefeated against Oregon when we hired him, but all I care about is WASHINGTON’S record against Oregon, which is now 0-1 with Petersen as the head coach.

It’s also neat that Chris Petersen was so highly coveted by all these other nationally-prominent schools all these years, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Sometimes, coaches just catch fire in a bottle.  Sometimes, coaches ride the coattails of the really successful head coaches who preceeded them.  Dan Hawkins was highly coveted as well.  Colorado nabbed him and what happened?  The Buffaloes went 19-39 and never had a winning record.  Ever since then, he’s coached exactly 5 football games in the CFL before being fired again.

Sometimes, coaches aren’t really that great at all.  Sometimes, they just luck into an impossible situation.

The point of all this is:  it’s more Wishful Thinking than Making Good Sense to get your hopes up over a new hire like Chris Petersen.  What do we know about his abilities as a head coach?  He’s never done it at this level, in a BCS conference!  It’s almost like taking the very best high school head coach in the country and giving him the keys to your college program; you’re not necessarily in for the time of your life just because he won a million games at a low-level football factory.

I’ve had MULTIPLE days to sleep on last Saturday’s bungling, and I’m still just as irate as I was when the clock hit all zeroes.  I wasn’t even all that disgruntled at the time, when he decided to hand the ball off to Deontae Cooper instead of just kneeling on the ball three times.  But, the more I’ve thought about it, and the more people have pointed out the Wildcats would’ve had all of 10 seconds left to try to go the length of the field to take the lead, the more idiotic he sounds for saying that his “chart” says that he needs another first down there.

YOUR CHART IS BULLSHIT!  USE SIMPLE MATH!  TAKE A CHANCE ON GIVING THEM THE BALL BACK WITH 10 SECONDS IN THE GAME!

Then, when we finally stopped them on the ensuing drive, instead of calling a timeout to preserve around 30 seconds of clock, he let them run it all the way down.

YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR TIMEOUTS WITH YOU!  YOU HAVE TO GIVE YOUR TEAM A CHANCE TO DRIVE DOWN AND SCORE WITH THAT MUCH TIME LEFT!

And then he does the numbnuts head coaching move of “icing” the kicker by calling a timeout right before the snap.  He apparently wanted to call the timeout before they snapped the ball, but if they’re all lined up, they’re GOING to snap the ball and take the practice kick whether you want them to or not!  You have no control over it!  And, expecting the refs to do their job in a timely and competent manner means you haven’t been paying attention to what the Pac-12 Refs have been about for the last decade.

DON’T LEAVE IT IN THE HANDS OF THE REFS, AND DON’T FUCKING GIVE A COLLEGE KICKER TWO TRIES AT A GAME-WINNING FIELD GOAL!

This was it.  This was our chance at a signature victory this year.  Now, we’ve got two meaningless games against two bottom-feeders, followed by the A Pizza Mart Who Gives A Shit Bowl.  But, more importantly, this game is going to taint my impression of Chris Petersen for a LONG time.  He’s got A LOT of work to do to win back my trust as a head coach.

Middling programs who want to rise to the ranks of the elites need more than your standard, conservative, by-the-book head coach.  And, I don’t care how many Statue of Liberty plays he ran in a bowl game nearly 8 years ago, Chris Petersen is an average, by-the-book head coach.  The only thing is:  that book was written about 70 years ago, and the game has changed since then, in case you haven’t noticed!

Instead, why not go out and do what Oregon did to get great?  Hire the next creative offensive mind!  Not Just Another Guy from Po-Dunk State University who had a good run of coattail-riding against the dregs of Division I college football.  If his tenure doesn’t end in a blaze of mediocrity, I’ll be SHOCKED.

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