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Petersen's Famous Last Words: 'It's Going to be Awesome'

A look back at the Huskies football coach's final day on the job

At last Saturday's Las Vegas Bowl, everyone was shoehorned into a cramped room set up for postgame interviews.

Departing Washington coach Chris Petersen sat at a table with  junior quarterback Jacob Eason and junior cornerback Elijah Molden, all brought in to discuss their 38-7 victory over Boise State at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Reporters grabbed what chairs they could or, in the case of Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, stood up front with everyone and asked his questions. Stone was so close to the coach, he could have reached out and touched him.

Stone, his foot perched on the platform that held the interview table, good-naturedly asked Petersen if he had thought about waking up the following morning and no longer being a football coach. The coach was ready for the question. 

"It's going to be awesome," Petersen said, drawing laughter from the audience of media members and UW officials.

"And the next day after that and the next day after that," he continued. 

"In a month, it might not be so awesome figuring out what to do next," Petersen concluded, "but it's going to be good for awhile."

Eason and Molden offered big smiles at this revelation from their folksy coach, with the quarterback reflexively running his left hand through his hair. Then it was on to the next question.

To demonstrate how quickly things change in college football, two of the three people representing Washington at the table are no longer with the program. No one got fired. No one graduated. They just made life-changing decisions. 

Eason announced five days following the Las Vegas Bowl what most people expected from him, that he would take early entry into the NFL draft as an underclassman. With so many changes swirling around him, Molden felt the need to reaffirm on social media that he was staying.

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Petersen's final day in charge of the Huskies began pressure-free. Without wearing a hat, he walked to the middle of the field and easily chatted up Boise State football personnel for several minutes. He came away clutching what appeared to be a souvenir football. He looked refreshed.

Players from both teams were in constant motion all around him, throwing and catching footballs or just walking the field.

Meantime, Petersen's successor, Jimmy Lake, sat alone on the team bench, staring straight ahead. His body language seemed to indicate he was anything but relaxed. He had his game face on.

Once things got started, Petersen kept to himself nearly the entire game, which quickly favored the Huskies. He was constantly speaking to someone on his headset but physically alone as he moved up and down the sideline.

As the game neared an end, UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen embraced a gray-haired woman, presumably Petersen's mother, and declared, "We're sending him out the right way!"

Petersen was mindful the traditional Gatorade ice bath was coming at any time, but he still couldn't avoid it. Asked later how it felt, he said, "Not really that good."

In the final seconds, Huskies coaches and players approached and hugged Petersen, including redshirt freshman linebacker Edefuan Ulofoshio, who was wearing streets clothes after getting injured in the first half.

Once time ran out, Petersen purposely strode to the center of the field with a media horde behind him to shake hands with Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and trade hugs with several opposing players, though none were recruited by him at his old school.

He did an ABC-TV interview with Molly McGrath, forced to shout a bit because the bands were playing loudly. He accepted the Vegas Bowl trophy alongside Lake, calling him to the stage to share in the moment. He addressed his team a final time, did the interview session, and then he was done.

A week later, Petersen wakes up these days and he's no longer the Huskies coach. He's had plenty of sleep while two of his assistants have been fired and Jacob Eason made his early NFL exit. No doubt, his new world is still awesome.