What Chris Petersen's shocking step down means for the Pac-12 Conference

Bri Amaranthus
NBC Sports Northwest

A shocking shake-up to the Pac-12 Conference was announced Monday morning. Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced that he is stepping down as head coach of Washington Huskies football after the bowl game, giving way to current defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake.

"I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge," Petersen said.

Washington finished third in the Pac-12 North Division, going 7-5 overall and 4-5 in conference play. Petersen will transition into a leadership advisory role for Husky Athletics. In his six seasons at


Washington, Petersen led the Huskies to two Pac-12 Championships (2016, 2018), the 2016 College Football Playoffs, and three consecutive New Years Six bowl games.

If this news raises your eyebrows, you aren't the only one.

Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham, the most tenured coach in the conference (15 years), learned of the coaching change on the Pac-12 Championship teleconference call and responded with utter shock.

"Wow. I would have never thought that," Whittingham said. "Chris Peterson is one of the finest coaches in the country, there are a handful of guys you respect and admire as a coach. Petersen is one of my guys."

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, who is undefeated in his two seasons against the Petersen coached Huskies, also was surprised.

"I literally got off the field and I heard the news," Cristobal said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Petersen. He's had a great career. Certainly wish nothing but the best for him and his family."

What does this mean for Washington and how does this affect the conference?

During any coaching change, recruiting sharks will emerge in attempt to steer prospects to other Pac-12 coaches. UW's 2020 recruiting class ranks second in the Pac-12, behind Oregon and 16th nationally.  

However, don't expect UW to take too big of a hit in recruiting, as Lake is Washington's top recruiter. The initial transition may cause some prospects to re-open their recruitements, but retaining and promoting Lake could strengthen UW's future recruiting classes.

Lake has been on Petersen's staff since 2012 at Boise State, was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2016 and has been the Huskies' sole defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He previously coached defensive backs for six years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Under Lake between 2015 and 2018, UW led the Pac-12 in total defense and scoring defense. 

How long Petersen wants to "re-charge" is unclear and unknown. His name will certainly be in talks for open NFL coaching jobs and any vacant college coaching jobs (cough, USC, cough).

What Chris Petersen's shocking step down means for the Pac-12 Conference originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

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