There is a new king of the PAC-12. Bow down to the University of Washington Huskies.
It’s hard for me to admit it. I was born in Portland, Oregon and have been an Oregon Duck fan my whole life. I went from being 6 years old sitting in the rain at Autzen Stadium with a parka on watching the Ducks get creamed by Arizona State University, to watching them go to two national championships in four years (and losing both times). Oregon football has been good for the latter half of my life.
But with the 70-21 throttling by the Huskies on Oct. 8, there is undoubtedly a new face of the PAC-12 North Division. They’re 6-0 and are ranked fifth in the nation, their highest ranking since 2001.
It’s actually somewhat surprising the Huskies are as good as they are this year. Yes, they’ve gone to a bowl game the past six years, but any team that reaches six wins during the regular season is automatically qualified for one. However, their best record in those six years was 9-4, and they only averaged seven wins per year during that span. The Huskies were a winning program, but something was missing to push them over the hump.
Enter Chris Petersen.
Petersen was hired as head coach in 2014 and immediately started changing the culture of the squad. What do I mean by that? In his first year as coach, he dismissed Marcus Peters, one of the best players on the team at the time and a future NFL cornerback, from the team for arguing with the coaching staff. It was the fourth player he let go in seven months.
He told the Seattle Times in November of 2014, “It’s unfortunate,” Petersen said. “But we’ve got certain standards and operating procedures. We’re trying to do something special here. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out (with a player).”
This no-nonsense attitude is something he brought with him from Boise State, a program he helped build from the ground up into a serious contender. With the addition of stellar recruits like sophomore quarterback Jake Browning and sophomore running back Myles Gaskin, it’s clear that Petersen has impacted the program exactly the way Husky fans were hoping he would when he was hired.
Husky fans are also hoping the Chris Petersen reign brings many more years of success.