This time next week, we’ll be recapping the Huskies and Auburn – the most anticipated season opener for the Dawgs in recent memory.
But regardless of the result, it’s worth looking big picture before the season even starts: In terms of leadership, I’d argue this program hasn’t been in a better overall position since Don James.
Now, the last thing I want to do is offend the Husky faithful who watched the dominance of the Don James era – one that included four Rose Bowl wins, six conference titles and a national championship during his 18-year tenure. There’s a reason he’s considered “The Dawgfather” – the best coach in program history.
But think about the current stability and potential – about the recruiting success, about the way it’s run – and I can’t think of a better leader for this program than Chris Petersen.
Anyone who knows me realizes that I’m not a die-hard Husky fan - that while I have a deep respect and admiration for the Dawgs and while I root for them 99 percent of the time, my loyalties ultimately lie elsewhere. So consider my take tonight one of pure envy – one shared by many supporters of other programs around the country, including those of the Huskies’ closest rivals.
Chris Petersen is arguably a Top 5 coach in college football. In four seasons, he’s already led the Dawgs to a College Football Playoff and a conference title, and probably should’ve won a second one last year.
But I also can’t think of another top-tiered coach who would be a better fit at UW – and one who legitimately could be on Montlake for 20 years or more.
Earlier this week, the Urban Meyer situation at Ohio State forced fans all over the country to look in the mirror, asking whether any principles or ethics might be sacrificed by the leadership at their favorite college programs in the process of attaining ultimate success. But frankly, Husky fans didn’t have to think twice.
In fact, CBS Sports did a recent poll of 26 active FBS coaches, asking which of their peers runs a completely clean program. At the top of the list? Petersen and David Shaw.
And the best part of all: Petersen isn’t going anywhere. There are no aspirations to coach in the NFL or coach another big-name program. UW is that program. UW is his future.
“This is my fit. That’s why I’m standing here at Washington,” Petersen said. “It’s not about ‘Can I see myself at (another program)?’ I see myself at Washington. That’s why I’m here. And that’s all I think about – how to make this program as good as it can be. And this place fits me and all the kids that are here and all our coaches. So I don’t ever have those thoughts. I’m where I need to be.”
And that’s ultimately what you want to hear.
So, yes, at multiple times this season, like a fan of any team, you’ll likely get frustrated with a playcall, a questionable time-management decision, or even a blatant coaching blunder.
But at the end of the day, the Husky program couldn’t be in better hands. And when it’s all said and done, Petersen could become “The Dawgfather,” Part Two.