TACOMA — Washington head coach Chris Petersen announced Monday that he is stepping down from the position following the Huskies’ bowl game. Current defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake has been named his replacement.
Petersen, who has coached UW for the past six seasons, will transition to an advisory role in the athletic department. Before taking over at UW, Petersen coached for eight seasons at Boise State. He compiled a record of 146-38 between the two stops, and his .793 winning percentage ranks second among active coaches with at least five years of FBS experience.
“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.”
During his time at UW, Petersen led the Huskies to two Pac-12 championships (2016, 2018), the 2016 College Football Playoff and three straight New Year’s Six bowl games, including last year’s Rose Bowl. UW finished this regular season 7-5 with a victory over Washington State in Friday’s Apple Cup. Petersen went 54-26 during his time at UW and led the Huskies to a bowl game in every season.
“Chris has been transformational for not only our football program but our entire athletic department,” Cohen, the athletic director, said in a statement. “It has been such a privilege to watch how he has been so committed to the development of our young men, not just on the field, but more importantly off. I can’t thank him enough for his service and leadership, and I look forward to having him stay on staff in a leadership advisory role, so he can continue to impact individuals across our department and the entire campus.”
With Petersen at the helm, Lake has helped mold one of the top defense’s in college football. Lake was also a UW assistant under Keith Gilbertson in 2004 and returned to Seattle as the defensive backs coach on Petersen’s initial staff in 2014. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator before the 2016 season and defensive coordinator in 2018.
“I could not be more excited about taking over as head football coach at the University of Washington,” Lake said 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.”
The Huskies’ defensive led the Pac-12 in total defense and scoring defense from 2015 to 2018. Eight former UW defensive backs who were coached by Lake are currently on NFL rosters. According to USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz, Lake will be getting a five-year contract with annual guaranteed compensation of $3 million. He was set to make $1.5 million as the Huskies’ defensive coordinator in 2020.
“I can’t think of someone better than Jimmy to take over this program,” Petersen said. “His energy and ability to relate to our players is unmatched. Jimmy is a great teacher of the game and his track record of developing young men both on and off the field speaks for itself. He is ready to take this step and I have full confidence that he will continue to build on the foundation that has been set here and he will elevate the program to new heights.”
Lake was an honorable mention All-Big Sky and academic all-conference honoree at Eastern Washington. He began his coaching career at EWU in 1999 and spent time at Montana State and in the NFL with Tampa Bay and Detroit. He joined Petersen at Boise State in 2012.
“There is no one better suited to assume the reins of our program than Jimmy Lake,” Cohen said. “Under Coach Petersen’s mentorship, Jimmy has grown into one of the most widely respected minds in college football. He has an extraordinary way of relating to our student-athletes, is a gifted teacher of the game, and has a vision for what will make this program successful.”