Chris Petersen: Overlooked, Underappreciated, Dominant

Washington Huskies football coach Chris Petersen

The 2019 Rose Bowl matches up two of the best coaches in all of college football, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Washington’s Chris Petersen.

Petersen has compiled a 139-32 career record, which works out to an .813 winning percentage. That’s the second-best of any coach in FBS, but only the second-best in the 2019 Rose Bowl, too.

Meyer’s career record is 186-32, good for .853.

Petersen is being overshadowed in the lead-up to the game, too. Meyer’s retirement has been the dominant storyline in interviews, and will likely be a recurring theme during the game broadcast as well.

That’s probably fine with Petersen, who has spent most of his career a little bit overlooked and underappreciated. It’s certainly okay with his biggest star.

“I think we’ve always been a kind of under-the-radar team and kind of feel comfortable there,” said Washington quarterback Jake Browning.

Petersen had a ridiculous a 92-12 record at Boise State, turning a program that had been best-known for its quirky turf color into a legitimate national power.

Then, after spending his first two years in Seattle rebuilding the Huskies’ program, Petersen has since rolled off three straight 10+ win seasons.

Much like Meyer’s “Plan To Win,” Petersen has a series of key concepts that he has lived by for years. But he knows that the small stuff matters, too.

“He’s consistent on the little things, just little details about day-to-day practice and stuff like that. Just continuously, continually remind you, and even though it’s the 50th time I’ve heard it, doesn’t really care, he’s going to emphasize the points he thinks are important to winning,” Browning said.

Washington offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan played for Petersen at Boise State. He said that the coach has stuck to his principles regardless of where he was.

“He creates this culture where everybody’s held accountable – staff members, players included. You got a job to do, and you better be striving to do it to the best of your ability,” Hamdan said.

That makes Petersen sound like a whip-cracking task-master, but Hamdan said that’s definitely not the case.

“Also having a very comfortable environment where guys enjoy coming to work every day,” he said. “It’s been that balance that’s been as good as anywhere I’ve been around.”

Hamdan said that Petersen looks for assistants who strike that same balance with players, too.

“He’s got to genuinely believe that you care more about the players off the field than you do on the field, and there’s got to be the itching desire to be the best. And regardless of where you’re at, that never-stop-learning process.”

2 Responses

  1. I can’t wait for the Rose Bowl. It’ll be a great game against a worthy opponent. Excellent article, Tom, along with the previous profiles of UW’s offense and defense, etc. Chris Peterson is a bigtime coach and leader who will go down as one of the greats along with Urban Meyer. Peterson made an unknown Boise State program (not even known for blue turf yet) into a national power while there, much like Lavelle Edwards did with BYU in the 1980s. That’s greatness. The Huskies will be motivated and well coached coming into Pasadena like the Buckeyes. It’s not a regular season game and the venue will bring out the best of the PAC-12’s champ. I think the teams match up well on both sides of the ball and it won’t be a high flying offensive display but Ohio State will win and beat the spread. UW doesn’t score a lot of points and neither do they give them away. They will be better than Michigan or NW and I figure the score will be similar to the NW game. UWs defense won’t be clueless like Michigan’s and they have a well equipped secondary. It should be a good game. I think both teams’ Rose Bowl records are teetering around 50/50 and OSU hasn’t always played their best in Pasadena but Meyer will have this Buckeye team focused on the game instead of In-N-Out burgers. You never know with the Rose Bowl. I recall a super talented Buckeye team was favored in a Rose Bowl around ’71 and had the NC in their grasp with a win against lowly Stanford but some guy named Jim Plunkett ruined that. UW doesn’t have Plunkett, granted. Respect for the Huskies and for Chris Peterson and the Rose Bowl. It’ll be great. The parade, weather, and everything. New Year’s Day is THE perfect day for a bowl. Happy New Year to everyone (except Michigan)! Go Buckeyes! Thanks for everything, Urban!

    1. Thanks Calibuck for your insightful comments.

      Unfortunately I remember the 1971 game. Distraught after that lose because tOSU was undefeated going into that game, and a victory would have earned them the AP/UPI methodical National Championship. As you know the sports writers and coaches decided in those days.

      Earlier in my life, a defeat like that, plus defeats against TTUN were devastating, destructive, ruinous, disastrous, catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic;. Now that I’ve MATURED, major bowl losses and losses to TTUN verge on self-inflicted destructive, ruinous, disastrous, catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic, shattering, shocking, traumatic, overwhelming, crushing, distressing, paralyzing behavior. So I’ve invited my psychiatrist over to watch the Rose Bowl, just in case. .

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