The Washington Husky coaching search is possibly nearing an end, with Boise State head coach Chris Petersen and Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier as the leading candidates.
You know the story, Steve Sarkisian said “see ya”, Huskies say they’re just fine without him and now after a week of searching, their leading candidates interviewed yesterday (Nussmeier) and will interview today at some point (Petersen). That doesn’t sound too bad, you can spin that as positive as you want from a Husky point of view and truly, the Dawgs could do worse than either of those guys.
But these guys aren’t who the Huskies wanted, they are recoveries. Coming from a Washington State point of view, at least from a fan perspective, this has been a bit of comical relief during a week in which the Cougars are forced to wait-and-see for their potential bowl invites. Who could blame a Coug for laughing a little? After all, it was Washington that put us in this position last weekend.
Why you ask? Because this has been a bit of a train-wreck for Husky nation. Husky fans thought they were a national power, a sleeping giant, a desirable coaching destination, until they were forced to look at the record books (shout out to USC AD Pat Haden for calling UW “historically bad”) and realize that they only have three 8-win seasons in the past 21 years (since their last National Championship). That’s THREE, 8 WIN SEASONS… 21 YEARS!
In that time, Washington State has accomplished the feat no less than six times and own one more Pac-10/Pac-12 title. Radio personalities from the West side have been flabbergasted when bringing it up, almost in shock.
The point’s been driven home. First it was Washington alum and current UCLA coach Jim Mora saying “no thanks” to his self-proclaimed “dream job”. Then it was a bunch of rumored “big name” candidates that quickly and emphatically removed themselves from the situation. Most recently it was Missouri’s Gary Pinkel who denied the invitation, an ex-Washington assistant coach of 10 plus years.
Now perhaps Petersen realizes this is his last opportunity for a big-time job, so he’s taking the bait, at least through the shot at an interview today. We’ll see just how that works out, Huskies everywhere would much rather have a proven head coach than an unproven assistant. Then again, Petersen sounds like the last head coach available and he’s been known to flake at the eleventh hour before.
Or was he an underwhelming interviewee? The question has been raised by WSU faithful over the past couple days as Petersen’s name emerged, is Petersen impressive enough for a big-time job or does something always end up road-blocking his candidacy? What has it been, 15 or so jobs in the past few years where his name has come up? Did he really deny that many jobs, especially some of the more high profiles, only to accept one that nobody seems to want in Seattle?
Regardless, the Dawgs are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Certainly they aren’t going to get what they wanted. Mora was it, plan A, B and C. After all, before UCLA he was all-in for the position, he burned his last NFL opportunity in saying so. But apparently he saw the writing on the wall. His Bruins are in a better spot to compete and it’s not worth risking his college legacy to return to his alma-mater as the guy who’s expected to take the purple and gold back to a national title run.
The truth in Seattle hurts and the Cougs are loving it, especially after last week. And the Husky assistants are getting poached at such a rate by Sarkisian at USC, will they even have a viable staff for the bowl game?
Eventually, one has to think Washington will be “fine” and actually a Petersen/Leach Apple Cup would be fun for years to come. But that’s if he ends up wanting the job and being impressive enough to get the offer. Nussmeier has Northwest pedigree, UW ties and one of those smiles that looks good on camera, he is even a good sell as Alabama’s OC. But is he what the Dawgs want?
Even if neither guy works out, the administration will have to put the offer on the table to one of these two and pray it doesn’t get rejected. Serious pride is on the line and the names are running thin.
At least for this week, at least through most of today, it’s been a fun train-wreck to follow. After this week the Huskies will act like this never even happened and they’ll say “we got exactly who we were looking for” by only offering the one guy that will take the job. We Cougs know different and it’s made the week a little more bearable.