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Chris Petersen's move to Washington was a matter of better fit over glamour job

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo Sports

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Chris Petersen is headed to the Pac-12. (AP)

After seemingly saying no to any and every powerhouse with a job opening in recent years – and that doesn't count the fact he probably could've gotten a few guys fired immediately if he wanted – Chris Petersen decided Friday to leave Boise State for the University of Washington.

In Seattle, Petersen will replace Steve Sarkisian, who left to take the USC job, a position that Petersen likely turned down twice through the years.

That isn't how the dominos are supposed to fall on the annual college football parlor game of which job has the greener grass – in those discussions USC is always greener than UW. Of course, conventional wisdom had Petersen leaving Boise about five minutes after that Statue of Liberty play beat Oklahoma back in the Fiesta Bowl.

That was after the 2006 season. Eventually many just assumed he'd never leave.

This is all a reminder about fit, about tastes, about personalities and about timing. It's also, in a roundabout way, about Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn and whoever else is supposed to go to Texas – or the Texans – should they come a-calling.

Conventional wisdom says one thing. An actual human, with an actual family, can say another.

Chris Petersen went 92-12 and won two BCS games in Boise and that doesn't even do his run of dominance justice. A third of those loses came this year – the 8-4 Broncos were an injury plagued "disappointment."

[Related: How did Steve Sarkisian do while at Washington?]

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Chris Petersen, left, congratulates WR Aaron Burks on his TD catch against Colorado State. (AP)

Boise wasn't as good this year as it has been – those Doug Martin/Kellen Moore/physical defense years are tough to beat. The 2012 NFL draft saw six Boise players drafted, including two first-rounders. Only three schools (Alabama, Oklahoma and Georgia) had more players picked. None of the Broncos were rated higher than three-star prospects coming out of high school.

So even though there is another promising crop of players in the program – his running backs Jay Ajayi and Aaron Baltazar are future pros – you can see where a new challenge, a new chance, a new school made sense. He'd probably maxed out in Boise.

For the 49-year-old, it was probably either now or he'd never go. And for as much enjoyment Petersen had as the upstart, going to a program with a Pac-12 pedigree, an outrageous new stadium, incredible facilities and a huge throng of fans – no more begging locals to fill a 32,000-seat, blue-turfed stadium – are tempting.

That Petersen will win at UW is almost without question. About the only doubt being raised is his ability to recruit at a high level, but he'll be combing the same Pacific Northwest and (importantly) California high schools he always did. And as that draft record shows, he knows how to find and develop talent like few others.

Mostly though this is a sign of the confidence he has in himself. If he just wanted to corral talent and believed that was the best route for him, then he'd have become the head coach at USC (or UCLA prior), where the mother lode sits all around him.

Instead he was looking for a fit. His offenses were often innovative and exciting, but Petersen the person isn't a showman. He's quiet, studious and sees things like booster functions and press conferences as necessary evils of the job. Some of these places just weren't for him. And as anyone who has been to Boise knows, that's the kind of beautiful area that's hard to leave.

You can make so much money these days being the head coach of pretty much any school – Petersen was making more than $2 million per year in the Mountain West – that there isn't the old desperation to jump and jump and jump.

Coaches can be picky now. You can search for what's right. In Seattle, he'll enjoy the benefits of a big media market without the pressure or intensity of coverage of a non-NFL city that lives and dies on every first down. UW might get really good over the next few years. It'll never be as big as the Seahawks.

For a guy who wanted what he wanted – and not what everyone else believed he should want – this was perfect. He stays in the Pacific Northwest. He gets to live in and recruit to a world-class place. He has all the tools to win national titles. And he does it his way, on his terms.

Maybe that never fit on Twitter debates and talk radio shows but neither did Boise State becoming a national brand in the first place.

As the coaching carousel winds up here in mid-December, with all eyes on Mack Brown's seat in Austin, so-too does the speculation and reports.

Texas is the biggest dream job out there, one that makes sense on every check list of tangibles you could make: facilities, local talent, budget, media exposure and quality of school and city. UT has it all. There isn't anyway to deny that.

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Nick Saban has won three BCS titles with Alabama. (Getty)

Yet is it really better for Nick Saban than Alabama? Maybe – and it's a maybe – at age 52, but at 62? He says no. His wife says no. Everyone keeps inventing gossip that they aren't being truthful. Are Alabama fans too demanding? Not a whole lot more demanding than Texas fans would soon become.

Is Texas better for Jimbo Fisher, who has recruited and coached Florida State right back into national prominence, the top-ranked team with the likely Heisman winner?

[Related: Clumsy attempt at humor undermines gravity of Jameis Winston situation]

Maybe by some measure Texas is an easier place to get top-line recruits but getting top-line recruits hasn't exactly been a challenge for Fisher. His last four recruiting classes yielded nine five-star recruits and 40 four-star recruits, according to Rivals.com. He has 11 more four-stars committed from the Class of 2014.

This program is loaded.

In the ACC, only Clemson and the promise of a rejuvenated, post-Shapiro Miami appears to be legitimate year in, year out competition. Other than that, FSU should roll right along. The Seminoles just put together a 12-0 season with a 40-point plus margin of victory and are the favorites to win the national title.

Yes, Texas is great. But appreciably greater than FSU at this particular moment for Jimbo Fisher? Why would anyone leave Tallahassee right now?

Then there is Gus Malzahn, who in one season took a 3-9 Auburn team and will play for the SEC title on Saturday. If the Tigers win and poll voters decide to reward strength of schedule, he may get a shot to play at the BCS title this year.

Considering Auburn has a history of coaches achieving great heights only to be run off later – Terry Bowden, Tommy Tuberville, Gene Chizik – there is talk he should head to Austin. Yet is a place with endless booster functions and its own television network needing programming a spot for the low-key, attention-shunning Wizard of the Waffle House?

In a vacuum everyone should be clamoring for the Texas job just the way Chris Petersen should've left little Boise for dozens of programs the last few years.

Turns out patience and perspective ruled the day. It turned out that the one he wanted, at the time he wanted, was the one no one on the outside could really see coming.

 

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