Chris Petersen steps down as Huskies’ head football coach

Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake named new head coach

By Daily Herald Staff

SEATTLE — Chris Petersen announced Monday he will step down from his position as head football coach at University of Washington following the Huskies’ bowl game.

The school’s director of athletics, Jennifer Cohen, named current defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake the new head coach.

“It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution,” Petersen said in a statement released by the school. “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’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 will move into a leadership advisory role in the UW athletic department.

Petersen steps down with a career record of 146-38, compiled during his eight seasons at Boise State and six at Washington. He is 54-26 at UW. His career winning percentage of .793 ranks second among active coaches with at least five years of FBS experience. He reached 100 career wins (in 2014) faster than all but four coaches in major-college history, doing so in just 117 games.

In his six seasons at Washington, Petersen led the Huskies to two Pac-12 championships (2016 and 2018), the 2016 College Football Playoffs, and three consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games. The Huskies won 39 games from 2015 through 2018 — most ever by the UW in a four-year stretch. If the Huskies win their bowl game this year, it will be the program’s 40th victory in the four seasons from 2016 to 2019, setting a new record.

“Chris has been transformational for not only our football program, but our entire athletic department,” Cohen said in a press release. “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.”

The Huskies are 7-5 this season and are bound for a sixth straight bowl game under Petersen’s leadership.

Along with his on-field successes, Petersen raised the Huskies’ academic profile. His teams have consistently compiled grade-point averages well above 3.0, and the Huskies recently unseated Stanford as the Pac-12 leader in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate.

Lake, who also served as a UW assistant coach under Keith Gilbertson in 2004, returned to Seattle as defensive backs coach on Petersen’s first Husky staff in 2014. He was promoted to co-defensive coordinator before the 2016 season and to defensive coordinator in 2018.

From 2015 through 2018, Washington’s defense led the Pac-12 in both total defense and scoring defense. Lake’s secondary was key in that success. Eight former Husky defensive backs coached by Lake are currently on NFL rosters.

“I could not be more excited about taking over as head football coach at the University of Washington,” Lake said in a press release. “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.”

An honorable mention All-Big Sky and academic all-conference honoree at Eastern Washington, Lake began his coaching career at EWU in 1999 and spent time at Montana State and in the NFL (Tampa Bay and Detroit) before joining Petersen at Boise State in 2012. A graduate of North Central High in Spokane, Lake and his wife, Michelle, have three children: Jimmy Jr., Faith and Bronson.