The news was first reported by ESPN's Joe Schad on Friday.
In a statement, Washington athletic director Scott Woodward formally announced the newest era of Husky football.
"On behalf of the University of Washington and the entire Husky Nation, I am proud to welcome Chris Petersen as our new head football coach," Woodward said. "Coach Petersen's success and record are extraordinary, but even more impressive is the man himself. His integrity, work ethic and character make him an outstanding fit and leader of our student-athletes at UW. We are thrilled and proud to call Coach Petersen a Husky."
Petersen's move to Washington comes only four days after Sarkisian left the Huskies to accept the head-coaching vacancy at USC. Petersen, who was also a candidate for the Trojans' job, withdrew his name from consideration after interviewing for the position. Adam Jude of the Seattle Times reported on Thursday night that Petersen was set to interview with Washington. The coach's name had also been mentioned in connection with a potential opening at UCLA before Jim Mora Jr. decided to sign a contract extension with the Bruins.
This hire has to be considered a major success for the Huskies. Petersen has been a coveted target in the Pac-12 for years now, and in addition to withdrawing from the USC search, he spurned overtures from Stanford in 2011. He spent the last 13 years with Boise State, where he served five seasons as offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach in '06. Petersen won five conference titles and two BCS bowls and finishes his tenure with an overall record of 92-12.
Of course, a clear question begs to be asked: What did this Washington opportunity have that previous head-coaching vacancies -- including some at schools that are more traditional college football powerhouses -- didn't? Part of it may be that it allows him to stay in the Pacific Northwest. Part of it may be that Husky Stadium just completed a sparkling new $280 million renovation. But a lot of it, as with most decisions in this vein, comes down to fit.
In an interview with Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com in July, Petersen offered some insight into his decision-making process.
It's all about the fit. There's so many beautiful things about certain places. But then you think about, what are your strengths and weaknesses? And what do you want more of or less of?
I know this: You're just trading one set of problems for another wherever you are. We have our issues.
I don't know if there's so much the appeal for other places, but maybe you feel like you need a change like you've feel like you've run your course at that place. Like everything has a shelf life. Like you just need a change for the next thing.
Washington went 0-12 before Sarkisian took over the program prior to the 2009 campaign. He brought stability to the Huskies and has led them to a fourth straight bowl berth in '13. However, just days after Sarkisian's exit, Washington may be better off. Sarkisian never won more than eight games in five seasons at the helm; Petersen has a reputation for doing more with less.
Boise State has tailed off over the last couple of years. It hasn't won an outright conference title since finishing 14-0 in 2009. The Broncos have lost a combined six games over the past two seasons, including four times this fall, the most of Petersen's tenure.
Yet with a stronger recruiting foothold and power-conference resources, Petersen seems like the guy to carry this Washington program to the next level. He has beaten the sport's blue-bloods as a heavy underdog. Now, the playing field is strikingly more even. According to a report from FootballScoop.com, Boise State's top target to replace Petersen is current Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin worked on the Broncos' staff from 2001-10.