Washington coach Chris Petersen, 55, announced Monday that he will step down from his position with the Huskies after their bowl game and move into a "leadership advisory role" with the program. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake will take over as the team's coach.
"It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution," Petersen said in a statement. "I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach our fine young men on Montlake for these past six seasons. I thank each of them, as well as our coaches and administrative staff for the incredible commitment they've made to Husky football during my tenure. The football program and Husky Athletics across the board will continue to prosper – and do it the right way – with Jen Cohen's leadership and the University administration's commitment to excellence. I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge."
Petersen led Washington to a 54-26 (34-20 Pac-12) record in six seasons with the program. He joined the Huskies after an eight-year tenure at Boise State where he compiled a 92-12 mark, leading it to the 2010 Fiesta Bowl and overseeing the Broncos' transition from the WAC to the Mountain West.
The Huskies entered the 2019 season with Pac-12 title and College Football Playoff aspirations, but they finished 7-5 in a significant step down after posting a combined 32-9 (24-5 Pac-12) mark over the prior three seasons. Washington has lost three straight New Year's Six bowl games but finished first in the Pac-12 North in those seasons, winning Pac-12 titles in 2016 and 2018.
Petersen is the third notable coach to step down from a major Power Five program before age 60 over the last few seasons. Bob Stoops, then 56, left Oklahoma after the 2016 season, and Urban Meyer, then 54, left Ohio State after the 2018 season. Both were immediately replaced by coordinators already on their respective staffs as Petersen has been by Lake.
Meyer, of course, also famously stepped down from Florida at age 46 in 2010 but returned to the sidelines at Ohio State after missing one season. Stoops recently agreed to become coach and general manager of the XFL's Dallas Renegades.
Lake, a former safety at Eastern Washington, began his coaching career in 1999. After starting at Eastern Washington as a graduate assistant, he became the defensive backs coach at Washington in 2004. He left after only one season and eventually wound up on Petersen's staff at Boise State as a defensive backs coach. When Petersen left Boise to take the Washington job, Lake returned alongside him, starting as defensive backs coach before earning a promotion to co-defensive coordinator in 2016. He took on the job as the sole coordinator in 2018 and has continuously put together solid defenses and NFL prospects.
"I could not be more excited about taking over as head football coach at the University of Washington," said Lake in a statement. "I've been dreaming of this opportunity for as long as I can remember and I can't think of a better place to do it than in the world-class city of Seattle and at such a prestigious university with a rich football tradition. This wouldn't be possible without the mentorship of Coach Petersen and I would like to thank him for everything he has done for me, as well as Jen Cohen for entrusting me with this opportunity."
Lake has turned down jobs before with the idea that he would eventually succeed Petersen at Washington, according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman. Still, not many expected such a move to happen this soon. Washington will be the 42-year-old Lake's first head coaching opportunity.
Petersen's 146 career wins as a coach is good for 67th all-time amongst college football coaches. He currently ranks sixth among active coaches behind Nick Saban (247), Mack Brown (244), Gary Patterson (172), Frank Solich (170) and Kirk Ferentz (161).