Petersen: 'Knew When it Was Time'
Chris Petersen and Mike Leach met on the field to exchange coaching pleasantries before last Friday's Apple Cup, and this casual gathering left the Washington coach incredulous.
"How much longer are you going to do this?" the glib Washington State coach asked him point blank.
"It was, 'Oh God, this guy is a mind-reader,' " Petersen said.
The Huskies coach, who stepped down after six seasons on Monday, made the decision a few days before the rivalry game that it would be his last as the leader of the UW football program.
Well before that, Petersen said he didn't enjoy the 2019 Rose Bowl, a game the Huskies lost to Ohio State 28-23, and the week of pageantry leading up to it. It was major clue that he needed a lifestyle change.
"You work your whole life to get there," he said. "I didn't appreciate the game like I should have."
At a news conference in the Don James Center at Husky Stadium, Petersen said he was looking forward to stepping aside and turning the program over to defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake. As he further explained himself, it sure sounded like coaching burnout.
"I really felt in our program it was time for a change," Petersen said. "You could feel it needed a new direction and a boost of energy."
A 14-year head coach, counting his eight years at Boise State, Petersen said he planned to recharge. He has accepted an "advisor" role in the UW athletic department, though it won't involve football. Asked if he would ever coach again, he sidestepped that question.
"I'm not falling into that trap," he said.
Petersen informed UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen of his decision on Saturday morning while his coaching staff took the day off to enjoy the 31-13 victory. She, in turn, called Lake that afternoon and offered him the job. Everything was in place by Sunday.
"I had no idea this was coming," Lake said.
The outgoing and promoted coaches spoke on Sunday. Two days later, they were each a little emotional as they passed and accepted the torch. Petersen said his defensive coordinator is ready to lead the Huskies.
"If I thought this was going to set us back, I never would have done this," Petersen said.