SEATTLE — Rather than throwing together a bunch of unknown faces in a new setting, Washington coach Chris Petersen decided continuity and familiarity were what he wanted with his first coaching staff in Seattle.
And nearly all are bringing a major Boise State connection to Washington.
“That’s one of the areas as a head coach I’ve had always lost a lot of sleep making sure these coaches are just right for us, for this university and most importantly for these kids,” Petersen said Tuesday. “The great thing is all of them but one I’ve coached with for a long time. I know what they’re all about and the one I haven’t coached with I feel equally good and strong about. I think the University of Washington is in really good hands with these fine coaches.”
Petersen’s decision on assistants should make the transition from Boise State to Washington smoother for everyone involved.
Eight of the nine Petersen hired — who were formally introduced on Tuesday — worked with him at Boise State. That includes former Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who will be Washington’s wide receivers coach, and linebackers’ coach Bob Gregory, who served as Boise State’s interim coach for its bowl game.
It’s a group that is familiar with how everyone works, with the hope that experience working together helps lead to a seamless transition for the Washington players.
“I think that makes the transition flow easier,” new Washington defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said. “You’re not trying to get to know guys and then put in a defense. We’ve already done most of it. … That is huge when we’re sitting in a room and we’re starting to put the defense together and make things go a lot quicker and a lot smoother and there won’t be as many bumps in the road.”
Kwiatkowski had among the strongest ties to Boise State, having been a coach for the Broncos the past eight seasons and been a player there from 1984-87. Kwiatkowski is among five coaches — along with Gregory, defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, offensive line coach Chris Strausser, offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith and running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonapha — following Petersen off Boise State’s staff from last season.
Then there are a few reunions. Jeff Choate was a running backs, linebackers and special teams coach for Petersen at Boise State before moving on to Washington State and Florida, where he coached linebackers. He’ll return to Petersen’s staff as the Huskies defensive line coach and special teams coordinator.
Pease worked under Petersen at Boise State from 2006-11 before spending two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Florida. He was fired after this season.
“It had always been a goal of mine to be back in the Northwest whether it was here or somewhere else,” Pease said. “It worked out in my favor to be able to work with coach Pete again and all the guys on the staff.”
The lone addition to Petersen’s staff that has not previously worked for him is tight ends coach Jordan Paopao, returning to the position he held with the Huskies under former coach Steve Sarkisian.