Washington head coach Chris Petersen steps down after 6 seasons

Washington head coach Chris Petersen looks on from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Southern Cal Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, in Seattle. Washington won 28-14. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced Monday he will step down after six seasons at UW. (AP)

Chris Petersen has stepped down as the head coach at the University of Washington.

The shocking news was announced by the school on Monday, three days after UW concluded the 2019 season with a win over rival Washington State to finish the regular season with a 7-5 record. Petersen’s final game will be Washington’s to-be-announced bowl game.

Petersen spent six seasons as UW’s head coach, accumulating a 54-26 record with two Pac-12 titles and one College Football Playoff appearance. With Petersen stepping down, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake has been promoted to head coach.

"It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution," Petersen said. "I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach our fine young men on Montlake for these past six seasons. I thank each of them, as well as our coaches and administrative staff for the incredible commitment they've made to Husky football during my tenure.

“The football program and Husky Athletics across the board will continue to prosper – and do it the right way – with Jen Cohen's leadership and the University administration's commitment to excellence. 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 has 146-38 coaching record

Petersen, 55, arrived at Washington ahead of the 2014 season after a highly successful eight-year run at Boise State. The Broncos went 92-12 under Petersen’s watch, including undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2009, and won five conference championships during that span.

Petersen went 8-6 and 7-6 in his first two years in Seattle before a span of three straight double-digit win seasons, including the Pac-12 championship in 2016 and 2018. In 2016, the Huskies went 11-1 in the regular season, crushed Colorado in the conference championship and earned the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff. UW lost 24-7 in the Peach Bowl to Alabama.

Washington’s run of 39 wins between 2015 and 2018 was the program’s most ever over a four-year span.

"Chris has been transformational for not only our football program, but our entire athletic department," UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen said. "It has been such a privilege to watch how he has been so committed to the development of our young men, not just on the field, but more importantly off. I can't thank him enough for his service and leadership, and I look forward to having him stay on staff in a leadership advisory role, so he can continue to impact individuals across our department and the entire campus."

Overall, Petersen has a career head-coaching record of 146-38. Petersen will transition into a leadership advisory role within the athletic department, the school said.

Who is Jimmy Lake?

Lake has coached under Petersen since 2012, when he was brought on as the defensive backs coach at Boise State. Lake then followed Petersen to Washington, first as defensive backs coach and then as co-defensive coordinator and finally defensive coordinator the last two seasons.

Before landing on Petersen’s Boise State staff, Lake had stints as a defensive backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions. He also coached at Eastern Washington, his alma mater, and Montana State and had a previous one-year stint at Washington in 2004 during Keith Gilbertson’s brief time as UW’s head coach.

The 42-year-old Lake drew interest from Colorado during CU’s coaching search last year, but opted to stay at Washington with Petersen.

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