Building a team or an organization is no easy task; it takes time and commitment from everyone involved. Chris Petersen is in the building stages still, ten months and two games after stepping foot on campus as the head coach of The University of Washington Football team. He's still implementing his culture and process into every aspect of the program. You could even say he is, “blowing everything up.”
And guess what, people? This thing needed to be blown up. Sure this team has talent as there are several players that will be high draft picks in the NFL draft. But talent alone does not make a great team. Petersen is not going to field a team of players that have no concept of how to work together, he is not going to have a team that is undisciplined, and he is not going to have a team that crumbles under pressure.
I am pretty sure that Petersen has no interest in going 5-4 in the conference every year. I am confident that Petersen does not want a team that loses three games in a row every year at some point during the season. I believe Petersen is not a fan of his players doing dances on the sideline when they are winning against a team they should be beating while they have already been eliminated from any meaningful games late in the year.
Lots of fans are struggling with the transition from Steve Sarkisian to Petersen. If you bought into what Sark was selling, I can understand how it can be difficult now. Petersen isn’t one to loft un-warranted praise on players; he is not going to make outrageous comments like “we aren’t going to lose a home game this year.” That is not the person he is, in fact I am pretty confident that Petersen has not mentioned in any interviews his goals for Rose Bowls or National Championships.
We heard all those things from Sark. They sounded great at the time, the program was down in the gutter and hope was lacking. Here comes Sark talking about Rose Bowls, and “it won’t take as long as people think,” there was a lot of talk, but little action on his end as UW was eliminated from contention for Rose Bowls before November every year under Sark.
After the news broke today about Marcus Peters likely being suspended for the Illinois game I saw several people reacting negatively to the situation. They felt it was unwarranted and not really necessary after he had to sit out the rest of the game on Saturday. This is the perfect example for people to look to in comparing the team under Sarkisian to the team under Petersen.
Petersen immediately took Peters out of the game after committing a penalty when Eastern Washington was on the verge of punting. The game likely would have been over at that point if the penalty was not committed as EWU had zero success stopping the UW offense throughout the day. As a result of the penalty, the drive continued and EWU remained in the game by scoring a touchdown. When he was pulled from the game Peters lost his cool, he sulked, he took off all his wrist tape and worst of all he threw his helmet to the ground (a big no-no for Petersen and one of his most important rules). All of his reactions to being pulled from the game are the reason he is now likely suspended.
If Sark was still around I actually believe he would have also pulled Peters out of the game, but not for the rest of the game. He would have put him back in at some point, and I can already hear him saying in the post-game something along the lines of, “Marcus knows he made a mistake on the field and he reacted to it, he is a fiery guy it’s just who he is and it’s why he is a great player.” But what lesson comes out of this? What if the same situation comes up in a meaningful game late in the year, a receiver baits Peters and he crosses the line and he commits a penalty that costs UW a chance to go to the PAC12 Championship or a chance to win a big time game. Petersen can’t have any of that, he doesn’t have time for that and he certainly will not let a decision as stupid and selfish as that cost them a game when it truly matters.
Petersen is here for the long run, folks. He is not here to build his résumé; he is here to build a team that can compete with anyone from a physical standpoint as well as a mental standpoint. In his press conference today Petersen was asked about his strategy for implementing his rules and philosophies to the team, he went on to say that it is about changing and ingraining new thinking into the players’ minds. They are trying to "build skill, even mental skill. And all these things take time.”
The reporter followed up with, "You're OK with that even if it hurts the team short term?"
Petersen replied, "I think it helps the team, you might take a step backwards, but I think it really helps the team when you are doing things the right way".
Check out the tweet below that I saw on twitter today. I really feel like it is the perfect way to describe the differences between Sark and Petersen:
"Winning isn't the goal for Petersen, it's the byproduct. Winning was always the only goal for Sark."
Petersen believes to his core that his process, his OKG’s and his culture is what will eventually lead UW to Rose Bowl’s and National Championships. He isn’t going to outright say that, but just listen to the man Husky Fans. He is telling us that basically every time he speaks to us. And I’ll say it for him, it won’t take him long.