Perhaps the moment that will forever symbolize Chris Petersen’s tenure at Boise State is the Statue of Liberty trick play on a two-point conversion in overtime that sealed the Broncos’ 43-42 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and capped a 13-0 season.
It was Petersen’s first foray as head coach, and in his eight-year run with BSU he developed a reputation as a coach unafraid to use unorthodox measures to overcome the college football big boys such as Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia.
But Hall of Famer Warren Moon noted Petersen, who was hired Friday at Washington, also embraces the traditional smash-mouth football that made UW great in its heyday.
“People look at Boise State and say they were finesse and they ran the gadget plays and all of those different things, but I tell you what, his teams will hit you,” said Moon, a former UW quarterback. “And they play good defense. They’re physical on defense, and most of the guys that he puts in the NFL are defensive guys. I like that part of his style.”
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Twenty former Boise State players began the 2013 season with NFL teams; 11 played on the defensive side, and three were offensive linemen.
“I really like this hire for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I think this takes us back to what has made Washington so successful, which is being the tougher team, running the football and playing physical defense,” Moon said. “There were a lot of people that we could have brought in here and I’m sure most of them would have done a fine job.
“But considering where we’re at right now, Chris Petersen is the best person we could have gone out and hired.”
Former Washington running back Terry Hollimon had frequent communications with other ex-UW players via texts and Facebook this week after former coach Steve Sarkisian left the Huskies on Monday for Pac-12 rival USC.
Hollimon described their feelings as dismayed, shocked and angry. Many former UW players were also excited when the school named Marques Tuiasosopo the interim coach for the upcoming bowl game.
Those players also had a wish list of Sark’s replacement, which began with UCLA’s Jim Mora and included Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, the former UW assistant, and Husky defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
When the news broke Friday morning about Petersen, Hollimon believes UW hired someone who could have a long run of success.
“One of the things the guys have been talking about is they didn’t want the next coach to see the University of Washington as a stepping stone to the next stop,” Hollimon said. “We feel like because he has roots in the Northwest that he would be a guy that would be happy in Seattle and wouldn’t be looking to uproot himself and his family any time soon.”
Former UW assistant Dick Baird suggested it’s no small thing Washington hired someone who has reportedly declined to coach at Oregon, Stanford, UCLA and most recently USC.
“My reaction is USC tried to get this guy and they couldn’t get him,” Baird said. “So they took our guy and we take the guy they wanted. So the irony of the whole thing is just ridiculous.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org