Chris Petersen said Tuesday that a quote from an unnamed eastern philosopher has been ringing in his ears for much of the fall.
“A man has two lives to live, and the second one begins when he realizes he only has one.”
Petersen’s second life is about to begin.
On Monday, the University of Washington announced that Petersen — the program’s sixth-year head coach — will step down following the Huskies’ upcoming bowl game. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake will be UW’s next head coach, while Petersen will transition into an advisory role at the university.
Petersen, Lake and UW athletic director Jen Cohen met the media Tuesday morning. Here are three quick impressions from their news conference (with more substantial coverage still to come).
This wasn’t a long-term plan
As much as we’d all like to speculate that Lake decided not to leave for Alabama each of the last two offseasons because he knew the UW head coaching job was about to be his, that didn’t seem to be the case on Tuesday. When asked when he knew he would step away, Petersen began by saying that, after reflecting, he realized that he didn’t fully appreciate last season’s Rose Bowl appearance like he should have. But it wasn’t until a few days before last week’s Apple Cup that he truly decided to step down. And even then, he only told his wife. Cohen and Lake didn’t know about Petersen’s decision until Saturday, and that’s when Cohen called Lake to offer him the head coaching job.
Petersen isn’t retiring
One of the first questions directed at Petersen was whether the 55-year-old plans to coach again.
“I’m not falling into that trick question,” he said with a laugh.
Petersen didn’t close the door on coaching, but he did say that what he wants to do next won’t come on the football field. He added that the expectation is that his advisory role with the university will not be heavily involved with the football program. He certainly seemed enthusiastic about his future and the prospect of learning and growing in a number of different areas, as well as spending more time with his family.
Petersen was the most emotional anyone on this beat has ever seen him when talking about his family. His wife, Barbara, sat in the front row. At one point, Petersen teared up, staring at the floor while attempting to gather himself. He then apologized and mustered the following words:
“You can’t do this without an unbelievable family.”
The balance between continuity and change
Lake repeated on Tuesday that he plans to “copy the recipe” Petersen concocted both at Boise State and Washington. He said that he will carry Petersen’s Built For Life program into the future and maintain the “uncommon unity” that set Petersen’s programs apart.
But, on the field, there will also be changes.
“We’re going to have a different style on offense. We’re going to have a different style on our special teams,” Lake told a crowd of reporters following the formal press conference. “We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to attack, and this place is ready to roll.”
That certainly suggests that significant philosophical and schematic changes could be coming on offense and special teams. One of Lake’s first orders of business this offseason will be deciding whether to retain offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan. On the other side, it’s likely that co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski will be elevated back to his previous defensive coordinator role, and Lake will have to decide whether to promote assistant defensive backs coach Will Harris to the suddenly vacant defensive backs coach role as well. Lake said that all personnel changes will wait until after the Huskies’ upcoming bowl game.
On Tuesday, Petersen said that UW’s program does not need to be blown up, but there does need to be tweaks and changes. It doesn’t appear Lake will hesitate to make them.