The Jimmy Lake Era is over.
But — after 13 games, seven wins, six losses, a disastrous offensive coordinator hire, a “RUN THE DAMN BALL” hat, an arguably illegitimate division title, a season-ending COVID outbreak, a sideline incident resulting in a one-game suspension and a regrettable comment about rival Oregon’s absence of “academic prowess” — Lake was fired on Sunday afternoon.
What’s next for Washington?
“Our search for a new football coach begins today, and while I can’t put a timeline on the process, we will move (as) swiftly and thoroughly as possible,” UW athletic director Jen Cohen said in a virtual news conference Sunday evening. “We are wide open in who we seek for our next head coach, and I’m confident that we’re going to have a strong and diverse candidate pool. I will also be relying on a small group of advisers as we embark on this journey.”
One of those advisers, it appears, will be Chris Petersen — who led the Huskies to a pair of Pac-12 titles and a College Football Playoff appearance from 2014 to 2019, before recommending Lake as his chosen successor.
But, when it comes to Petersen, Cohen offered a clarifier.
“Coach Petersen did not give Jimmy Lake that job. I gave Jimmy Lake the job,” she said, adding also that “his hire is on me, and I own it.”
“It was my decision, and obviously he was supportive of it. Coach Petersen … we’re really fortunate. We’ve had him very engaged in the athletic department for the last two years, since he did step down. He provides a lot of counsel to me and to our other coaches in our department. He’s part of my inner circle of advisers that I lean on for advice on a number of things. I do expect to get counsel from him during this search process.”
When asked if said search process could eventually lead Cohen back to Petersen, she declined to discuss any possible candidates. She also declined to divulge the identities of her “small group of advisers,” but said “I’m leaning on people that have strong football backgrounds and strong experience in this space.”
Details were scarce Sunday night.
And for Lake’s assistant coaching staff, the future is equally clouded.
“I’m a big believer in the new head coach having full autonomy to hire their staff,” Cohen said, when asked if any current Husky assistants might be retained by the new regime. “That being said, if there are people on our staff that they’re interested in, that would be great.”
After Lake’s hire notably bypassed a nationwide search, Cohen confirmed she will hire a search firm as well — though “I’m still debating the scale of involvement for a search firm. I will have a search firm involved, but the scope of their role is still to be determined.”
As is the identity of UW’s next head coach. But, when asked if the hire will be saddled by financial limitations, Cohen said simply: “We have the resources to get the best coach for Washington.”
That could be former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, or Brigham Young’s Kalani Sitake, or Fresno State’s Kalen DeBoer. It could be Nevada’s Jay Norvell, or former Texas coach Tom Herman, or Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Heck, it could be Petersen.
Or someone the list-makers and message board speculators never even considered.
As one era ends, there are more theoretical candidates than legitimate clues.
“I’ll just say this: this is a special place,” Cohen said. “We have all the resources we need to be a championship program.”
What they need next is a championship coach.