Is Chris Petersen A Legend?

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With the Las Vegas Bowl taking place on Saturday, the Washington Huskies will face the Boise State Broncos in Chris Petersen’s final game as head coach for the Dawgs (for now). Petersen has built two incredible programs at the aforementioned schools. It is obvious that he is a great football coach, but is he one the greatest of all-time? Let’s take a deeper look

Boise State

The Broncos had a successful football program under Head Coach Dan Hawkins before Petersen took over the helm. However, the latter took Boise State to new heights leading them to an undefeated 13-0 season in his first year, and one of the most captivating upsets of all-time in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.

Don’t worry we’ll get to that. 

After his inaugural season his squads continued to trend in the right direction finishing with at least 11 wins in his first seven years. His final year in 2013 BSU finished with an 8-4 record, but hey no one’s perfect. 

Jumping back to 2006, the Broncos faced the Oklahoma Sooners in a matchup that drew comparisons to David and Goliath. Boise State was supposed to get crushed but something miraculous happened, they found a way to compete. 

On a 4th and 18 with 18 seconds left in the contest BSU trailed 35-28, the game was over. But then the ball was snapped and what happened next is arguably the greatest play in college football history. 

The Broncos dialed up a hook and ladder from the 50-yard line and it actually worked. A receiver unbeknownst to me caught the ball around the 35, took a couple of steps, and pitched the ball to wideout Jerard Rabb who found a seam and took it to the house. The play resulted in the game tying touchdown and extra point with seven seconds left.

This moment propelled the game into overtime, where BSU was not finished with their trickery. 

After Oklahoma scored a touchdown and kicked an extra point in the first overtime. The Broncos matched the six and did the unthinkable, they went for two. 

With the score reading 41-42 BSU ran the infamous “Statue of Liberty” play, and it worked. They faked a screen pass and the quarterback Jared Zabransky handed the ball off behind his back, to halfback Ian Johnson, who dashed to the corner of the endzone winning the contest 43-42. 

On this fateful night the college football landscape changed forever. The no name mid-major teams now had a voice, and Boise State was the catalyst behind the movement.

His combined record at BSU was a blistering 92-12 which is virtually unheard of. He also won another Fiesta Bowl in 2009 when the Broncos knocked off TCU 17-10. Boise State finished the 09-campaign undefeated posting a 14-0 record. 

Washington

Before he took over the head coaching job at UW, the Huskies were a good team, under his guidance they became great.

He struggled in his first two years with the Dawgs finishing 8-6, and 8-7 respectively. But in his third year everything changed.

Washington finished 12-2 in 2016, and was selected to the College Football Playoff, this is the first time the UW program was in National Championship contention since the Don James era. 

The Dawgs lost to Alabama in the semi-finals 24-7, but they competed throughout the first half, which is incredibly difficult to do against one of the most prestigious programs in college football history. 

(If you don’t know how good the Crimson Tide and Nick Saban are please stop reading this article.)

The 2016 season was his most successful campaign in Seattle but his teams did qualify for two more New Year’s Six bowl games. They lost all three NY6 contests, but getting there on a consistent basis is impressive in its own right.

Beyond all the stats, he made the Husky fanbase believe again. As a Seattleite my whole life he brought a buzz back to the city that I had never experienced. Suddenly UW football was cool again.

As a graduate of Washington State University, I can say that he struck the fear of god into the Cougar faithful, and for good reason. 

He went undefeated in the Apple Cup over his six-year tenure in games that generally had Pac-12 title implications. It is not easy to beat your rival six years in a row, especially when there a perennial Top 25 team. 

Petersen’s time in Montlake will not soon be forgotten, he changed the face of a program and revitalized a city starving for college football success.

But what do you think? Is he one of the greats, or is he just another successful college football coach?

Is Chris Petersen a Legend?I believe he’s legendary

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About Author

Nick Bartlett

Hello there ya wild rabbits. My name is Nick Bartlett and I’m a sportswriter, broadcast manager, and youth basketball coach. I’m from the Greater Seattle Area and a graduate of the Edward R. Murrow school at Washington State University. I’ve had over 50 articles and 10 podcasts published in Seattle PI, and my work featured on OregonLive, SportsPac12, and South Florida Tribune. You can contact me at NB206wsu@gmail.com or on twitter @WordsByBartlett. Cheetos and Tuna.

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