BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 08/08/2015

Thiel: As if Huskies’ coach needs to see Boise St.

Questions about Huskies are many. But they are certain to open in Idaho in three weeks as 10-point underdogs to Boise State. The only part Petersen likes about it is that he’s an underdog.

Chris Petersen is stuck going back to Boise State to start his second season at Washington. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

He’ll never say it, of course, but for Chris Petersen, playing at Boise State in the opener of his second season as University of Washington football coach couldn’t have been worse for him. Well, I suppose athletic director Scott Woodward could have scheduled SEAL Team 6, but they are booked way out.

Petersen returns Sept. 4 to the place where he was lionized for the better part of 13 years, with a Huskies team that doesn’t yet have a starting quarterback on offense nor much of a clue on defense, nearly half of which is now in the NFL.

He’s coming off a disappointing 8-6 season without expectation of improvement, then draws a team that was 12-2 last year, including beating Pac-12 foe Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl 38-30, a team the Huskies couldn’t handle last season.

The Broncos will be so amped to squeegee the blue turf with the Huskies that Grand Coulee Dam can be given the day off.

Where is East Minion State when the Huskies, 10½-point underdogs, need a cupcake?

Petersen sounded a bit miffed Monday at his  camp-opening presser when he was asked about his transition to UW from what some may see as a lesser program.

“I don’t really consider the program I came from like that,” he said. “I really don’t.”

It’s true that Boise State has left scorch marks up and down major programs, including Oregon and Oklahoma. And the Broncos under Petersen beat Washington 22-12 in the Las Vegas Bowl in 2012. But as long as they remain in the Mountain West Conference, outside the Power Five conferences in the ever-morphing college football “structure,” they will bear an asterisk.

The pedigree issue came up with the Huskies a little last season, when Petersen was tossing off the team some of the more dubious characters assembled by his predecessor, Steve Sarkisian, and struggling with some play-calling and strategy decisions.

The notion was that Petersen was in over his head. You know, like what was said about Don James when he went 6-5, 5-6 in his first two years in Montlake, away from little Kent State.

Some slack must be granted for a coaching staff that was without a doubt stepping up on class to the powerhouse Pac-12 Conference. Petersen seemed to allow as to how he was a bit awe-struck.

“If this can be considered learning, it’s as good as advertised,” he said. “We thought it was going to be really good, and it is really good. The coaching is really good, the players are really good and there’s no, ‘OK, we get to play these guys this week.’

“You put the tape on and you’re thinking you’ve played a really tough team. And you don’t want to see many good players . . . it’s more like, ‘This is what we saw last week.’ That’s probably the main thing that was confirmed. From the inside, it’s really good.”

Now that the first round with Mike Tyson is over, Petersen thinks he and his staff are better prepared.

“I think the second go-round, we’ll be more efficient with how we practice and how we do everything,” he said. “Although we pride ourselves on going back to square one, I think we can move more quickly and hopefully get to the details of the program.

“The guys will know what’s coming in terms of some of the meetings, and embrace it and get it and understand it, as well as our schemes. I talked to a buddy of mine in the NFL and they’re in year two too . . . same thing, it’s different in year two. Coaches are on the same page and the team is on the same page.”

Apparently the grinding of gears during the transition from Sarkisian and Petersen is over. He can now return to the psychological station that makes him all warm and comfy from its familiarity at Boise State — underdog.

“I think even if you’re really good and you’ve done a lot of things, the successful guys always have that underdog mentality,” he said. “They’ve never arrived. They’re still trying to prove it to themselves and others. They’ve got that chip on their shoulders. So, with all of the guys we’ve lost, with the schedule that we have, through all of those things, if that gives (the players) that underdog mentality, then I think that helps us.”

That probably won’t sit well with the generations of fans who remember the James teams that were all knuckles, scabs, jagged teeth and unpleasant breath. But that was long ago, and the oddsmakers don’t lie — the Huskies are big underdogs in a season opener in Idaho.

Hard as that may be for long-timers to accept, it’s even harder for Petersen to know another way. He may have the right team for it this year.


  • Jamo57

    “That probably won’t sit well with the generations of fans who remember the James teams”,

    I think you’re right, Art. But if Huskies fans are honest with themselves, the “underdog” mentality was a staple of the James era. Whether it was not being viewed on par with USC, the perceived dissing of the program leading up to the Orange Bowl by UO and the subsequent snub in awarding the national championship to BYU, or just the general perception the UW was at best a “regional power”. Husky fans, or Northwest fans in general (as the ‘no one pays attention to us” angst actually extends from Eugene to VBC) have to see that this mindset has been part of our sports fan consciousness for generations.

    One other thought, the quote your reference of Peterson’s isn’t that much different from Schneider/Carroll’s “there is no finish line” mantra. And we love them for that.

    • Pixdawg13

      And some of us fans remember the first two James teams, which weren’t all that good. Owens had kind of lost the team in his last couple of years, and DJ had some house-cleaning to do–and CP’s been doing the same. Unlike many dawg fans, I never expected Coach Pete to come in and be immediately on top of the world. His approach needs players who buy in–and now he’s getting closer to that; next year and the year after is when we see what he can really do. This year is the proverbial ‘rebuilding year’. Though, I think we’ll get a pleasant surprise or two.

      • Huskymoon57

        Good morning HUSKY NATION!! (Afternoon here in Ireland)
        Agree, there is no finish line. Have to always have that mentality! Excited to see this year unfold. I expect some pleasant surprises along the way.
        Go DAWGS!

        • art thiel

          Good to year from the Irish chapter of SPNW’s international fan club.

      • Jamo57

        A friend of mine tells a pretty humorous story about being at the 1977 Oregon game in Eugene. That’s when it all came together and they won 54-0. Nobody saw it coming. The humor in the story is riding back to the house of a friend of his in the Eugene area after the game in a car full of Oregon fans. That’s when the Dawgfather’s seat began to cool off a bit, though quite frankly it heated up a few times over the years afterwards. Such as the late 80s.

  • Dan Engel

    Still can’t shake the feeling that Peterson regrets coming to the UW and the powers that be regret the decision as well. Now they are stuck with each other for at least another two years.

    • art thiel

      Doubtful on either count. I think it should work.

  • rosetta_stoned

    Wasn’t impressed with the Peterson hire at the time and nothing he’s done since has changed my mind.

    A .500 record this season. At best.

    • Pixdawg13

      No doubt you want Ty back.

  • ll9956

    From Boise State’s point of view it probably would be sweet for them to beat the Dawgs and they most likely will. Likewise it would be sweet for the Huskies to beat USC. But that almost certainly ain’t gonna happen. Rather than 10.5-point underdogs they will probably be 20-point underdogs and will get hammered. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

  • 3 Lions

    Hopefully, the Dawgs will be well organized and play with tenacity for four quarters. They
    might have to open it up a bit to win but I hope they go for it as opposed to waiting for BSU to hand it to them.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Boise State always gets much satisfaction out of beating Pac12 schools because in large part out west they have always been reminded that the Pac12 goes to Rose bowls and competes for Natl championships on good years while Boise State is only half acknowledged.They would love to plant a shiner on the Huskies next month.Coach Peterson has a daunting task to keep it close with all of the adrenaline the Broncos will be feeling.And it is on the smurf turf where they rarely lose period.

    • art thiel

      Oregon can’t beat Boise, so I see little chance for UW.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        It annoys me how the ducks can get so ultra jacked up for beating UW but they treat the Broncos like some gnat in their soup. They couldn’t possibly beat us again?Then Boise does. When i was a kid watching Don James teams there is no way I saw Duck dominance coming in my lifetime. I didnt see Nike either so my bad.

  • jafabian

    As long as recruits choose schools like Oklahoma, Notre Dame, FSU, Alabama and such over the Boise State’s and Nevada’s the West will always be second to the East. I don’t know if the NCAA does anything to try and bring some parity to recruiting but it would make the game itself better if they did. Maybe Boise State would have a National Championship by now.

    I’m predicting something of a step backwards for the Dawgs this season. They lost too many to grad and losing Hale when the secondary was so suspect hurts, especially with John Ross out for the year to say nothing of Cyler Miles. They’ll be very hard pressed to make a bowl.