Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side.
For Chris Petersen that couldn't be more true. On Monday it was officially announced that the 49-year-old head coach would be leaving behind the blue turf at Boise State for the sidelines at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington.
It is quite a coup by Washington, which became the first on a long list of major BCS programs to finally lure Petersen away from the friendly confines of Boise. Time and time again Petersen's name came up for prominent coaching openings from UCLA to Florida to even the recent search at USC, but Petersen never budged. Coincidentally, the Trojans stealing away Steve Sarkisian from Washington opened up the position for which Petersen is now responsible.
What made Petersen finally surrender after eight years of building an absolute juggernaut at the mid-major level?
"I think I go back to just the timing of things and feeling like I needed to take a step out of Boise to really grow and improve," Petersen said during Monday's press conference, while constantly emphasizing how good a 'fit' Washington was.
After taking so long to finally leave Boise State, questions have already sprouted up about whether this is the final stop for Petersen.
"You know how hard it was for me to leave Boise? I know this life always changes. I did not take this job to go anywhere else," Petersen said. "This is where I want to be, this is where my family wants to be. So I certainly envision and hope I can be here for a long time."
Petersen certainly has a major challenge ahead of him if he is going to improve on his first eight seasons as a head coach. After inheriting an rising program from Dan Hawkins, Petersen lifted Boise into the stratosphere. Petersen led the Broncos to a 13-0 record, a No. 5 national ranking and the iconic topping of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. That was all in 2006 during his first year as head coach.
In total, Petersen accumulated an incredible record of 92-12, a pair of undefeated campaigns, five bowl victories and six seasons ending with the Broncos among the top 25 teams in the country. Along the way Petersen picked up some hardware as well, earning the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award for the nation's top coach in 2006 and 2009. There are no other two-time winners on a list of recipients that includes such respected names as Lloyd Carr, Bob Stoops, Frank Beamer and Nick Saban.
All of those accomplishments are impressive, and clearly why Washington was so keen to scoop Petersen up, but now he needs to reach towards those heights on a bigger stage. No longer will Petersen's schedule be filled with games against teams like New Mexico, Wyoming and Hawaii. Instead behemoths like Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State will come knocking. It is a challenge Petersen is aware of and ready to take on.
"I'm excited about the conference. I think it's as good (and) tough as any conference there is out there," Petersen said during his opening remarks in Monday's press conference. "I think there is more parody in the Pac-12 now than certainly I've ever seen."
Along with increased parity, the Pac-12 is also known for its number of squads that put up incredible numbers on the offensive side of the ball.
Petersen should fit right in.
During his reign at Boise State, the Broncos ranked among the top 25 teams in the country in total offense seven times, including a second-place finish in 2010. Getting strong play under center was and will be the key.
"Our philosophy on offense really runs through the quarterback. It always starts there, what is that guy's strengths and weaknesses," Petersen said.
The major weakness for the group of signal callers that Petersen gets to work with in his first season is inexperience. Since Keith Price is graduating, the competition for the starting job will be between Cyler Miles, Jeff Lindquist and Troy Williams. Miles and Lindquist are both redshirt freshmen this season and Williams is a true freshman. Miles is the obvious choice to start at first as he is the only one of the three to have thrown a pass at the college level.
Petersen may have already shown his hand in regard to the group, as he mentioned the strengths of having a mobile quarterback several times during Monday's press conference. Miles clearly fits that mold, as he averaged 8.1 yards per carry in limited time this season
Although Petersen will be molding a quarterback, getting Washington to buy in to an aggressive offensive scheme won't be a concern. Sarkisian left behind an offensive mentality in Seattle. The Huskies ranked second in the Pac-12 in total offense this season (514.3 ypg) and with Petersen's innovative tendencies now mixed in, that could become an annual occurrence for the Purple and Gold.
Seeing his schemes in action will have to wait. For now Petersen can focus on filling out his staff (former defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski was already added), keeping an eye on the team's bowl preparations, planning for recruiting and getting used to his new turf, literally.