Chris Petersen

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Kyle Whittingham attempts to defend bizarre timeout decision that doomed Utes vs. Washington

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If you went to bed a little early on Saturday night then the chances are pretty good you missed one of the more baffling coaching decisions of the season. With Washington and Utah tied at 30-30 after the Huskies battled back in the second half, Washington received the football with under a minute to play. Washington seemed to be playing for overtime with a short run to keep the clock rolling when Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham called a timeout. This gave Washington head coach Chris Petersen a chance to change the mindset on his sideline and go for the win before overtime, and it led to a game-winning field goal as time expired.

Whittingham essentially gave Washington a chance to win the Huskies had no intention of playing for in regulation, and it may end up costing Utah a spot in a postseason bowl game. After the game, Whittingham defended his decision-making by saying he was attempting to be aggressive, suggesting that if Washington really was playing for overtime, they would have taken a knee.

“You’d have to ask Chris that. But if they were not being aggressive they would have taken a knee,” Whittingham explained. “What’s the point in running a play if they’re not going to try to at least maneuver into field goal range. So we called timeout, had them in decent field position, second and eight or second and nine, and one incomplete pass and another timeout if they decide to run the ball. So it was a long shot, but we’re just trying to win and it obviously didn’t work out.

Here’s the play where Utah called the timeout. It sure seemed as though Washington had no real intention of playing for a field goal unless Utah made a huge mistake, which as it turned out they did,

Whittingham had no legitimate reason to call for the timeout and admitted it was a decision he would take back given the hindsight of knowing how the game would eventually end.

“In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have called the timeout,” Whittingham said. “But at the time, we were just trying to be aggressive and get the ball back to a guy who has about a sixty-yard range field goal wise.”

Petersen said after the game they were merely trying to run Myles Gaskin to see if there would be a crack or a big play. That never developed, but the timeout changed the situation for Washington. Petersen, not one to go out and trash an opposing coach over a questionable decision that benefits him, said he understood what Whittingham was trying to do.

“We wanted to run the ball and see if we could pop through with Myles and maybe get a 10-yard run,” Petersen said. “I get what Kyle was trying to do. You have to play aggressive in these situations.”

No, you do not.

There is a time to play with aggression, but this was not the time. Washington was settling on playing overtime, and Whittingham overthought the situation and got burned by it.

Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Washington plugs vacancy on staff with Boise State o-line coach Scott Huff

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A day after losing offensive line coach Chris Strausser to a job in the NFL, the defending Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies have managed to fill the void with a former Chris Petersen assistant. Scott Huff has been hired to be Washington’s new offensive line coach.

Huff previously coached under Petersen at Boise State for eight years. Huff remained at Boise State, his alma mater, once Petersen was hired by Washington. Huff was one of two coaches who opted to stay behind and was retained by Boise State to continue coaching the Broncos during the coaching change. Huff also played for Petersen for two seasons at Boise State and started 40 games for the Broncos between 1999 and 2002. Petersen was Boise State’s offensive coordinator at the time.

“I’ve known Scott as a player and as a coach for a long time. He was one of my first hires as a newly-appointed head coach,” Petersen said in a released statement. “We’re just thrilled to have him join us here.”

“We want to wish Coach Huff the best of luck as he makes this move to Washington,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said in a statement, according to The Idaho Press-Tribune. “There are few that have been as loyal to the Boise State program as Scott Huff, both as a player and coach. Beyond his coaching acumen, his ability to build relationships with his players and develop them on and off the field is what makes him special.”

The sudden coaching change on the staff at Boise State comes just days before the Broncos open up spring football practices. Unless Harsin has an option waiting to be hired immediately, it is liekly the Broncos will shuffle responsibilities internally to fill the staff, at least for now.

Bo Scarbrough powers No. 1 Alabama back to championship game after Peach Bowl win over No. 4 Washington

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Faced with a 3rd and nine from their own three-yard line and Washington making a push to generate enough momentum to put a scare in Alabama, the Crimson Tide handed the ball to Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough moved right up the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain. At that exact moment in the fourth quarter, that may have been nothing more than a sigh of relief for Alabama, having picked up a first down to get out of their own end zone, but Scarbrough was not done yet. A few plays later, Scarbrough once again broke tackles by Washington’s solid defense, and in the process of working his way 68-yards down the field for a cherry-on-top touchdown, broke the hearts of Washington faithful in Atlanta and on the west coast. Alabama, who had the upper hand for nearly the entire game, pulled away for a College Football Playoff semifinal victory in the Peach Bowl for a 24-7 victory that was fueled by capitalizing on Washington’s mistakes.

Two Washington turnover sin the first half led to 10 points for the SEC champion Crimson Tide. Jake Browning, who set the new Pac-12 single-season passing touchdown record in the first quarter, was picked off by Ryan Anderson late in the first half, and Anderson returned the interception for a touchdown. In a game in which Washington could not afford mistakes like this, the pick-six was a critical blow. The Huskies had a very good night on defense, but the offense was unable to do anything against a superior Alabama defense loaded with some of the top talent in the country, like Jonathan Allen (who recovered a fumble and was tough to get by once again). That was to be expected, but the Huskies looked like they may have found a good situation after Browning stepped back from the line of scrimmage on a fourth down play around midfield to drop a punt on the Tide. The punt pinned Alabama deep in their end, and Washington forced a third-and-nine that will likely haunt them for some time.

Moments later, Alabama was out to the 30-yard line, when Bo struck once more to get the party started a little early for the Crimson Tide fans.

Scarbrough ended his night with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Washington had a total of 194 yards in the entire game.

Alabama will now await to find out their next challenger, which will be decided in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and Clemson will play in the other College Football Playoff semifinal to determine Alabama’s next opponent in the national championship game. Alabama has faced each in the last two years of the College Football Playoff. Ohio State, with Ezekiel Elliott, upset the Crimson Tide en route to a national championship run two seasons ago, and Alabama outlasted Deshaun Watson and Clemson in last year’s championship game. Whoever plays Alabama should make for a very entertaining championship game.

The national championship game will be played on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Tampa. Alabama will look to become the first repeat winner in the infancy of the College Football Playoff era and clinch its fifth national championship since 2009.

The season is now over for Washington. At 12-2, there is still more than enough to be happy about this season for the Huskies under head coach Chris Petersen, and still much to look forward to moving forward as the program continues to take strides forward. Washington’s next game will be September 1, 2017 at Rutgers. The Huskies should be able to get off to a good start once again next year with nonconference games against Montana and Fresno State before opening Pac-12 play.

Saban, Harbaugh, Meyer among Maxwell Football Club coach of the year semifinalists

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer are among 16 remaining candidates for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club.

Saban is the only coach from the SEC listed as a semifinalist, and he has never won the award that was first presented in 1989 to Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Gene Stallings is the only Alabama coach to win the award, doing so in 1992. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the first SEC coach since 1998 (Tennessee’s Philip Fulmer) to win the award, in 2014.

Meyer and Mike Leach are the only semifinalists to previously win the award. Meyer won the award in 2004 at Utah and Leach took the award in 2008 with Texas Tech. Penn State’s James Franklin could become the third Penn State coach to win the award, joining Joe Paterno (1990, 2005) and Bill O’Brien (2012).

The remaining semifinalists for the award are Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Neal Brown (Troy), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Scott Frost (UCF), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Chris Petersen (Washington), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).

Finalists for the award will be announced on December 12 and a winner will be named on December 29. The winner will be presented with the award on March 10, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Banquet.