Jimmy Lake is much different than Chris Petersen, but will it work for UW Huskies?
Brock Huard, the 710 ESPN Seattle host who started at quarterback for the UW Huskies in the 1990s and is now a college football analyst for FOX Sports, was not as shocked as others that Petersen is leaving. Nor was he surprised to Petersen’s replacement is co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who has coached with Petersen since 2012 when they were at Boise State.
Brock’s October thoughts
During the first episode of the Brock and Salk Podcast in early October, Huard said he thought Lake would succeed Petersen at UW – just not this soon.
“When Jimmy Lake walks in the room there’s just a difference,” Huard said on Oct. 2. “He’s a defensive coordinator there at Washington, he’s done a phenomenal job getting all these dudes in (the NFL). He’s recruiting dudes like crazy. But anyhow, Jimmy finishes (a meeting) and (Huard’s FOX Sports colleague) Joe Davis turns to me and he’s like, ‘How is this guy not a head coach?’”
Asked co-host Mike Salk: “When is he going to be? Next year?”
Huard quickly responded, “I think he will have this job,” before saying Petersen would resign or retire in the next five seasons.
Why Petersen is done at UW
In the latest edition of the Brock and Salk Podcast, which went online Tuesday night, Huard discussed the news that Petersen will be done after the UW Huskies’ upcoming but unannounced bowl game and Lake will coach the Huskies from that point on.
Huard said that the demands of being a head coach in college football are large and that Petersen was one of a handful of guys who have shown they can lead programs at a consistently high level. But with an ever-changing college football landscape, it’s not that surprising to Huard that Petersen is calling it quits.
Huard compared Petersen to the NCAA as a whole, because the NCAA’s model doesn’t quite match how college athletics is going today with more marketing and glamor in order for bigger schools to lure high-ranking recruits.
“Chris Petersen at Washington was just not built for this model,” Huard said. “And you could feel some of that conflict and tension for years.”
Petersen, who is 54-26 at Washington with two PAC-12 championships and a College Football Playoff appearance, is fairly quiet and reserved, and there are stories that he never wanted to be a head football coach. He talks with the media but isn’t as outspoken or flamboyant as some of the other big-name college football coaches.
While top college football coaches like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Alabama’s Nick Saban have big personalities and do a great job marketing their programs, Petersen would prefer to stay out of the limelight.
So what ultimately led to Petersen’s decision to step away?
Petersen has made it known he doesn’t like the way recruiting has changed, and he has also said that the future of the sport is murky because of the potential of college athletes earning compensation.
Salk suggested that one of the final nails in the coffin was the Huskies’ quarterback situation in the offseason.
The team had Jacob Eason, a former 5-star recruit who had to sit out the 2018 season due to transfer rules, as well as Jacob Haener, Colson Yankoff and Jacob Sirmon, all of whom were looking to get playing time and considered transferring. Ultimately, Eason won the starting job, Haener transferred to Fresno State, Yankoff transferred to UCLA and Sirmon is still on the team.
Huard said Petersen likes being straightforward and may have missed his Boise State days where he could recruit lower-end players and develop them his way instead of getting bigger prospects who may threaten to transfer because of playing time or have agents and other agendas that don’t benefit the team.
“I think the guy wants to be black and white and realized ,’In today’s college football I’ve to be grey, and that’s not me,’” Huard said of Petersen.
UW Huskies’ future under Jimmy Lake
While Petersen is more reserved, Lake isn’t afraid to be more outspoken, especially when it comes to in-state rival Washington State. Lake also had multiple opportunities to leave Montlake the last few years, but has stayed and is being rewarded.
“Is Jimmy Lake that guy? Does Jimmy Lake have that capability of being that guy?” Huard said. “Jimmy Lake turned down head coaching jobs. Jimmy Lake turned down the Alabama defensive coordinator job. Jimmy Lake turned down NFL opportunities. Jimmy Lake has turned those things down, I think because he’s sitting here thinking, ‘You know what? I’m the next Lincoln Riley.’”
Riley is the current head coach at Oklahoma after serving as longtime Sooners head coach Bob Stoops’ offensive coordinator for two seasons before Stoops’ retirement. Riley was in his early 30s when he got the head coaching gig, and Lake, now 42, is also among the younger coaches in college football. For comparison’s sake, Petersen is 55 and was roughly Lake’s age when he was named head coach at Boise State.
“Jimmy Lake’s got more (years at the program than Riley had at Oklahoma),” Huard said. “He’s been here six years through this whole run with Petersen and has had multiple opportunities and said no because he knew Chris was not going to be long for this and forever for this by any means. And when he stepped down it took (UW Athletic Director) Jen Cohen a day (to name Lake as the replacement). It didn’t take long when Chris told Jen officially ‘I’m done with this.’”
Is Lake the kind of guy that can be the face of the organization that Petersen seemingly never wanted to be?
“He is on like Donkey Kong,” Huard said of Lake. “I think he’s built exactly the opposite (of Petersen).”
Lake isn’t afraid of the spotlight and Huard believes he will want to be the face of the football program in ways Petersen never wanted to.
“He’ll want to be on the marketing materials. He’ll want to do whatever it takes,” Huard said. “He’ll want to sell in that way. He’s wired that way. ‘I’ll talk about Mike Leach if I have to and I love facing Mike Leach.’ He has the willingness at times to do those things.”
But is Lake about to bring in an era that truly competes with the likes of Alabama and Ohio State? Huard said to pump the brakes a bit.
“I’m not going to sit here and pronounce that with Jimmy Lake you’re going to become one of these five bluebloods,” Huard said. “I am going to say Jimmy Lake will bring a totally different style.”
One of the first major changes we will likely see is on the offense, which has been a subject of criticism throughout the year. While Lake’s former co-defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatowski will return as the sole defensive coordinator, there will likely be an overhaul on the offensive coaching staff, especially at the offensive coordinator spot.
“It will be fascinating to see what he does offensively because there’s no way Bush Hamdan is going to be the (offensive coordinator)” Huard said. “(The coaching staff is) going to finish out this bowl game. … How much staff turnover (will there be)? … What he does, his first little fingerprints (on the program) will be that offensive staff and I think that will be a fascinating conversation and one that I’m sure will be worthy of podcast time.”
Salk would like to see more energy and swagger from the football program, similar to the Seattle Seahawks teams of the early- and mid-2010s.
“I hope he turns UW into a Legion of Boom-style team where they’ve got an edge, attitude and fun factor that the Legion of Boom had,” Salk said. “That would be the biggest win possible, right?”
Next up for the Huskies is their bowl game, which will be announced Sunday.
Listen to the Brock and Salk Podcast at this link or in the player below.