The First 30 Days: Lake's Moves Inspire UW Football Masses

Dan Raley

Jimmy Lake was an aggressive football player in his time, a big hitter in the secondary, an attention-getter.

He seems intent on bringing the same hellbent approach to his new job as Washington football coach. It's a notable departure from his more sedate predecessor, Chris Petersen. 

At halftime of Saturday's Oregon-UW basketball game, Lake took the floor, held a microphone and whipped the fans into a frenzy, reminding them of who had the Pac-12's No. 1 recruiting class and that Michigan was first up on the 2020 schedule. 

While he promised to follow the Petersen coaching recipe when he took the  job, Lake is clearly spicing things up in his first 30 days as the program leader and putting his stamp on things. Consider the following oratory: 

"We have a couple of dates to remember here: on April 25th, we want to have the highest-attended spring game in the country," he said, raising his voice while addressing the sold-out Alaska Airlines Arena, "and on September 5th, there's this team from the Big Ten that's coming across here and we want to send them back to Ann Arbor with a big L! Go Dawgs!"

Petersen was more cerebral and never much cared for putting on an emotional display, let alone wanted to participate in the continuous give-and-take with the media. Lake appears to revel in all of it and enjoy the salesmanship part of the job.

The new UW football mastermind had zero recruiting defections after the coaching change; in fact, he was able to encourage a couple of prospects sitting on the commitment fence to re-up. The new players seem to like his extroverted style. 

Outside of three early departures for the NFL, in quarterback Jacob Eason, tight end Hunter Bryant and running back Salvon Ahmed, Lake has lost only reserve linebacker Ariel Ngata to transfer. Guys want to play for him.

"I'm most excited about Jimmy Lake because I've heard his players talk about him and they've been very positive," said Steve Pelluer, former UW and NFL quarterback and 1983 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, whose son Zeke is redshirt freshman tight end.

Now with spring football practice fast approaching, Lake this past week disclosed on KJR radio that he wants to return to a traditional, four-quarter game rather than the more cautious and convoluted scrimmage that's been in place. 

While a vast majority of the UW fan base highly approved of the Petersen era, and won't forget the championships he won and the foundation he built, Huskies followers are embracing the swashbuckling style of Lake. It's different. 

Of the criticisms of the departed Petersen, he came off as much more conservative than the reputation he earned at Boise State. He did not resemble the noted trickster who completely befuddled Oklahoma and won 43-42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Fans envision Lake being far more aggressive with the offensive and defensive play-calling while encouraging his players to fly around more on the field and put on a show. 

They see Jimmy Lake using his more extroverted personality that was on display during halftime of Saturday's basketball game and making things more fun.