Publish date:

What does Chris Petersen to Washington mean to the Pac-12 as a whole?

Ever since Chris Petersen became a name on the national coaching scene with Boise State's roller-coaster win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 17 head coaches were hired and fired in the Pac-12. Only Oregon State and Utah (who, obviously, only became a Pac-12 school very recently) have employed the same head coach for that entire span, and only Arizona and Cal have only experienced one coaching change since the end of the 2006 season.

The other eight Pac-12 schools have now changed head coaches twice over the past seven seasons.

In fact, there have been 17 head coaches hired between Boise State's Fiesta Bowl win and Petersen's departure for Seattle. Some hires were program-changing grand slams, like Chip Kelly at Oregon and the combination of Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw at Stanford, and others were Lane Kiffin.

Sidebar: Why would Petersen take the Washington job, and why now? In many ways, Washington is Boise State on a BCS stage and green turf. It boasts USC resources with UCLA expectations. And maybe after experiencing a quote-unquote 19-6 downturn over the past two seasons - after going an unthinkable 50-3 from 2008-11 - Petersen realized he'd taken Boise State as far as he could and was ready for a new challenge. 

Debate all you want on whether USC or Washington got the better upgrade, but larger point is this conference just upgraded from Kiffin to Petersen. A coach who managed to turn a preseason No. 1 ranking into a 7-6 finish was essentially traded for a coach with 92 wins over the past eight seasons.

Suddenly, a conference that enjoyed a fantastically competitive season in 2013 has only gotten stronger.

Let's take a quick look at the top line of each Pac-12 head coach's résumé, in order of tenure:

Mike Riley, Oregon State: Winningest coach in school history. Accumulated eight bowl trips at the same school that suffered through nearly 30 consecutive losing seasons. Twice came within one win of the Rose Bowl.

Kyle Whittingham, Utah: Guided an undefeated season, including a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and a No. 2 AP final ranking, in 2008.

David Shaw, Stanford: 33-6 overall record. Pac-12 Coach of the Year. Led Stanford to its first Rose Bowl win in 40 years, a win away from back-to-back Pac-12 championships.

Rich Rodriguez, Arizona: Came within a game of playing for the 2007 national championship. Won two Big East titles at West Virginia. 135-94-2 as a head coach.

Jim Mora, UCLA: Led UCLA to within one win of the Rose Bowl a year ago. 18-8 in two seasons in Westwood.

Todd Graham, Arizona State: Has Arizona State within one win of its first Rose Bowl trip since the 1996 season. Won or shared four conference/division championships in eight seasons as a head coach.

Mike Leach, Washington State: Engineered 11 bowl appearances in 12 seasons as a head coach. Pushed Texas Tech to a No. 2 national ranking in 2008.

Sonny Dykes, California: Went 17-8 over his final two seasons at Louisiana Tech, including a 2011 WAC title.

Mark Helfrich, Oregon: 10-2 in his first season as a head coach, keeping alive an FBS-best streak of five consecutive seasons with at least 10 regular-season wins.

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado: Posted a 10-2 season and a No. 21 final ranking at San Jose State, arguably the best season in Spartans history.

Steve Sarkisian, USC: Inherited an 0-12 team at Washington and produced a bowl win two seasons later. Won eight games at Washington, which is harder than you think according to Pat Haden.

Chris Petersen, Washington: Two undefeated seasons. Two Fiesta Bowl wins. Four top-10 finishes. Five conference championships. At Boise State.

Make no mistake, the Pac-12 is college football's newest mega-power and the closest thing to a worthy challenger the SEC will face on its continued fight to retain the throne of college football. 

Tags
terms: