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Piecing Together Coach Petersen's Staff

It's expected that new Husky football head coach Chris Petersen will announce his full staff early this week; in this article, we take a look at who has already been leaked to be joining the staff and speculate on the final spot.

Coach Pete is unlikely to offer coaching jobs to Softy or Millen
Coach Pete is unlikely to offer coaching jobs to Softy or Millen
Otto Greule Jr

It's now been a little over three weeks since Chris Petersen was hired as the 28th head coach of Washington football, and since his introductory press conference things have been quiet on his end. This is not at all surprising, given that A) the team was still in bowl preparation mode under the existing staff and interim head coach, and B) Petersen is not a guy that goes out of his way to make a media splash.

But while there have been no official announcements of his new coaching staff - expect that to happen early this week according to Adam Jude - there have been enough leaks and reports via the twitterverse that we have a pretty good idea of what his staff will look like. With the announcement that Marques Tuiasosopo has accepted an offer from Steve Sarkisian to be the TE coach at USC over a similar offer from Petersen & Washington, there appear to be just one spot left unfilled.

Programs are limited to nine full-time assistant coaches and four graduate assistant coaches. From what we can piece together so far, Petersen's staff appears to include the following guys:

  • Jonathan Smith - Smith comes over from Boise State where he served as QB Coach; he's expected to fill the same role with Washington, and depending on how the final spot(s) shake out, he could be in line to fill the offensive coordinator role as well. He served in that capacity for two seasons at Montana before joining Petersen's staff, and before that spent 6 years as QB coach at Idaho after a 2-year graduate assistant stint at his alma mater Oregon State where he excelled as an undersized, former walk-on QB.
  • Chris Strausser - Strausser comes over from Boise State where he served as OL coach, Assistant Head Coach and Run-Game Coordinator and is expected to be the OL coach here. Strausser is in his 2nd stint at Boise State; he spent the 2001-05 seasons as the OL coach under Dan Hawkins and followed him to Colorado for a season before returning to BSU at their TE coach; he moved back to OL coach for the 2010 season. He's regarded as a pretty good recruiter and excellent evaluator of talent. In prior stints at Recruiting Coordinator at Portland State and San Jose State. His lines have been outstanding in pass protection and helped power strong rushing attacks in his time in Boise.
  • Keith Bhonapha - Bhonapha comes over from Boise State where he served as RB coach and Recruiting Coordinator, roles he's expected to fill here with Washington as well. He was regarded as the best recruiter on the Bronco staff and was honored as the best recruiter in the MWC last year by Expect him to be the main point person for recruiting in Southern California, and he's the primary recruiter for DE prospect Jaylen Johnson.
  • Brent Pease - Pease comes over from Florida where he was fired as Offensive Coordinator and QB coach. A long-time OC, he first ascended to that role in 1996 at Montana, and kept it through moves to Northern Arizona in 1999, Kentucky in 2001 (under Guy Morriss) and Baylor in 2003 (again under Morriss) before landing in Boise to work for Petersen as his WR coach. He was then hired by Indiana to be their OC in 2010, but reversed course after two weeks back to Boise to replace Bryan Harsin as QB coach and OC for a season before taking the high profile OC job under Will Muschamp at Florida. He's expected to be the WR coach here, and depending on how things shake out with the rest of the staff is a good bet to also claim the Offensive Coordinator job.
  • Pete Kwiatkowski - Kwiatkowski comes over from Boise State where he served as Defensive Coordinator, succeeding Justin Wilcox in that capacity in 2010. While that unit struggled a bit this year, they were among the nation's best in his first two seasons and very good in 2012. Prior to replacing Wilcox, he served under him as DL coach for four seasons. This was his second stint at his alma mater - in his first, from 1988-96, he also coached defensive backs and linebackers in addition to DL. After a year as co-DC at Snow Junior College and two years with Eastern Washington, he spent 6 years as DC for Montana State before returning to Boise. With all signs pointing to Wilcox re-joining Sark at USC, Kwiatkowski is expected to be named the DC for Washington, and could potentially serve double-duty as DL coach as well. He's regarded as a decent recruiter and has had recruiting responsibility in the San Diego area for BSU.
  • Bob Gregory - Gregory comes over from Boise State where he was their LB coach and Assistant Head Coach and filled in as their interim Head Coach after Petersen left. As you can see from his Twitter account, it appears he will fill similar roles with Washington. He has a long history with Petersen, having coached with him at Oregon where he served as DB coach, then moved with him to Boise State in 2001 to work for Dan Hawkins as his DC before being hired by Jeff Tedford to be his DC at Cal from 2002 until 2009, fielding several top defenses there.  In somewhat of a surprise move, he then returned to Boise State to work for Petersen as his LB coach.
  • Jimmy Lake - Lake comes over from Boise State where he served as DB coach and Defensive Pass Game Coordinator, and it's expected he'll fill a similar role here. This will be his 2nd stint with Washington - his first came on the ill-fated 2004 staff under Keith Gilbertson. He then spent a season at Montana State alongside Kwiatkowski (they had also coached together at Eastern Washington) before getting a chance in the NFL as an assistant DB coach for Tampa Bay for two seasons and then getting a full-time DB coaching position in 2008 with Detroit, and then back to Tampa for two seasons (2010-11) before landing with Boise State. He's generally regarded as the 2nd best recruiter from the Bronco staff after Bhonapha.
  • Jeff Choate - Choate comes over from Florida where he served as Special Teams Coordinator and OLB coach. He may have been feeling some heat with Muschamp increasingly under fire, opting to resign from that staff and widely expected to rejoin Petersen here at Washington. This would be his 2nd stint with Petersen, having coached under him from 2006-11 at Boise State as his Special Teams Coordinator, and adding RB coach, LB coach and Nickelbacks coaching duties along the way. He then left to spend last season under Mike Leach at WSU as LB coach before getting hired away by UTEP to be their DC. That lasted just a few months before Muschamp lured him to Florida. Prior to his stint at BSU, he spent 2 seasons with Utah State and a year with Eastern Illinois. He's regarded as a strong recruiter and big key to the Broncos' ability to recruit in Texas during his time there. He'll be the Special Teams coordinator here, and might also split DB coaching duties with Lake.

That leaves one open spot that could have gone to Tui had he opted to accept it. There are a number of ways Petersen could go to fill that final spot - rumors have had him trying to woo big names like Jeff Tedford, Dirk Koetter or Dan Hawkins to be his Offensive Coordinator. Or he might be satisfied to hand that job to Pease or Smith and instead hire a full-time TE coach, the position reportedly offered to Tui. He might also opt to let Kwiatkowski focus full-time on being the Defensive Coordinator and try to hire a DL coach (though I don't think it will be Tosh Lupoi). It's also interesting to note that Robert Prince appears to be the only Boise State staffer not coming over or retained by new Bronco head coach Bryan Harsin. Nor have there been any rumblings about where current OC/WR coach Eric Kiesau will land.

Obviously the above list makes clear that Petersen is intent on working with guys he has a prior history with - not terribly surprising. And contrary to the belief of some, as the above list demonstrates most of these coaches have a strong track record and have experience outside of Boise State - this is shaping up to be a good looking staff, and depending on how Petersen fills the final spot, it could look even better. Stay tuned...