Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports is reporting that the rumored top two candidates in the search for the next University of Washington Head Football Coaching position were interviewed on Thursday night.
Local Boise beat writer, Brian Murphy, has reported that the meeting between Woodward and Petersen lasted 90 minutes and that Woodward left on the same chartered plane without Chris Petersen at his side.
At Boise airport, Flight w/ Washington AD Scott Woodward just left Boise. Plane had 2 passengers. Male & female. No Petersen. 90 min meeting— Brian Murphy (@murphsturph) December 6, 2013
Earlier today, it was reported that Nussmeier was to be interviewed today with Chris Petersen likely to be interviewed on Friday or over the weekend. However, by reportedly chartering a plane and flying out to Boise to meet with Boise State Head Coach tonight, Woodward may be signaling that he is ready to make an offer.
UPDATE: Petersen likely to stay at Boise State.
Chris Petersen expected to remain at #BoiseState, no change in status post meeting.— Travis B. Hawkes (@tbhawkes) December 6, 2013
This isn't concrete, it is only one booster saying so, but at this point it may be that Petersen won't be going anywhere. On this one, we will likely have to wait until there is an official statement or more than one person saying as much.
He also could just be saying that Petersen isn't flying, which we know. But later he tweeted that Petersen would need to have a "change of heart" to end up at UW. This is all based off of one booster, so grains of salt.
The Huskies and Woodward are in their fourth full day without a full time head football coach following the resignation of Steve Sarkisian on Monday. Over the past week, Woodward has named an interim head coach for the post-season in Marques Tuiasosopo and offered the full-time position to Jim Mora of UCLA. The only other candidate to be known to have been interviewed is current UW Defensive Coodinator, Justin Wilcox, who previously coached at Boise State under Petersen.
With bowl preparations to make and a recruiting class to try to hold together, it has been widely expected that the Huskies would wrap up their coaching search quickly. Nussmeier is considered an up-and-comer with impeccable credentials who has northwest roots, including a stint as the QB's coach at UW. However, the gesture of Scott Woodward traveling to Boise suggests that interviews are over and that contract negotiations have commenced. Given the circumstances, we may infer that Peterson is the top priority for Woodward.
Despite some concerns about his fitness to start a new job, securing Petersen would be considered a coup. In the past seven seasons at Boise State, Petersen has led his team to a top 10 finish out of the MWC in four seasons and has registered signature victories against some of the top programs in FBS including the likes of Oregon, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma. Known as a great teacher and communicator, Petersen has excelled in player development as evidenced by the fact that 23 former BSU players are currently on NFL rosters. Petersen has been pursued unsuccessfully by dozens of major programs over the last several years and has turned down offers from schools such as Oregon, UCLA and, this week, USC.
However, the opening at Washington may be intriguing to Petersen on a variety of fronts. Beyond the financial security that UW can offer contractually, Washington is considered a program on the rise. The current roster offers depth and talent in most positions, the new facilities are of elite status and the lifestyle in Seattle may offer exactly the kind of landing spot that the Petersen family finds enticing. In addition, the implementation of the college football playoff system may be a factor in Petersen's decision-making as he considers his best options for pursuing a national championship run.
The fact that Woodward left without Petersen is difficult to interpret. It could signal that Petersen has rejected the overture or it may just indicate that Woodward simply wanted to get the interview out of the way so that he could make an offer on Friday.
As always, we'll keep you posted as the situation develops over the next several hours.