Chris Petersen and Boise State: An Inappropriate Ending To A Feel Good Story


On a cool September night in 2015, Chris Petersen walked into a sold-out Albertsons Stadium. A blue and orange sea greeted him with boisterous cheers, which mirrored the excitement of a fan base that had gone 92-14 under Petersen.

But on that Saturday night, Coach Pete wasn’t wearing a Bronco polo shirt. He was wearing a purple Washington pull over and a purple Husky hat. It was his first game back in Boise since he shockingly left the program after a disappointing 8-5 season.

Boise beat Washington, 16-13, and Chris Petersen jogged off the field to even louder cheers from the appreciative fan base. After he left the Blue for the final time, Bronco and Husky fans were obliged to move on to their team and their coach’s future.

Stories Of Success

In Boise, Bryan Harsin has led the Broncos to five double-digit-win seasons and three conference championships.

In Seattle, Chris Petersen took the Huskies to a College Football Playoff appearance and two conference championships.

Even though Coach Harsin certainly had more wins than Petersen, both have performed magnificently at their respective schools.

That’s partially why it came as such a shock to many that Coach Pete stepped down as Washington’s head coach.

But in reality, Coach Pete has never been the kind of character to be inflated by success, or have a big ego. He suggested that he was disappointed in a lack of satisfaction that came from a Rose Bowl appearance, and he was never one for media fireworks, whether in Boise or Seattle.

Yet all Husky fans will be quick to tell you they’re more than proud of his time at Washington.

Boise fans will tell you the same about Bryan Harsin, who they hope will stick around for a little while, at least to see the Hank Bachmeier era live out its great potential.

Both coaches deserve a respectful send off, for both have led their teams to good seasons. A great season, in Boise’s case. Chris Petersen should get a decent match-up that will walk him into the sunset, as he deserves.

That’s precisely why this matchup feels so wrong and so disrespectful towards both teams.

This Shouldn’t Be Happening.

First of all, this game genuinely shouldn’t be taking place. Boise State is 12-1, and is ranked number 19 in the nation. Meanwhile, a number 24 ranked Virginia squad gets to play in the Orange Bowl, as an obviously superior Boise team faces off against a 7-5 Washington team.

But the greatest travesty isn’t Boise’s season not matching their bowl game. It’s Coach Pete having to face off against his former team whom he has a ton of respect for in his final game.

“How many teams are there in FBS football? 130 something? This is probably my last choice to get matched up with.” 

Now, I’m not a mind reader, but I’ll tell you what – Coach Pete is NOT happy.

But how about the bowl tie-ins, you might say. This game is inevitable because of them… right?

Yeah, the bowl tie-ins made it almost certain that Boise would play Washington. But there was no effort to pull some strings to make sure this game didn’t happen. There should’ve been an attempt to do something. It’s happened before.

Yet here we are.

It’s going to be a good game, don’t get me wrong.

But that does not make up for the injustice done to both Boise State and Chris Petersen.

Shame on the CFP Committee, the NCAA Oversight Committee, and the Conference Presidents.

A legendary coach’s final season is tarnished because of greediness for storylines and the appeal of a few extra dollars. Boise State’s excellent season is ended with a slight of a bowl game.

Boise State deserves more than this.

Chris Petersen deserves more than this.

We all deserve more than this.

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