Since the Friday morning that Chris Petersen was hired to succeed Steve Sarkisian, questions have been raised by some (Dawgman.com) about Petersen’s ability to recruit talent to the University of Washington. Most of these questions have centered around Petersen’s “OKG” (Our Kinda Guy) philosophy, and it pains me that this article even needs to be written.
Here at Hardcore Husky we are in to, you know, actually listening to what the coach has to say about his philosophies, instead of relying on conjecture from three people who claim to be authorities on Husky Football. With that said, I believe there is a major misconception about what an OKG is, and what it truly means in the recruiting process for Petersen and his staff. So let’s dig into the actual words of Chris Petersen to learn about his OKG philosophy.
First, let’s get this straight, the OKG philosophy is not just a “thing” that Petersen and his staff say as some have suggested. It is at the core of everything they do in recruiting and in building the team. You want proof of that? How about this from the mouth of Chris Petersen; “That philosophy has had more to do with our success than anything else. We look for student-athletes who are serious about their studies, who put football at 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.” Clearly, not all players have that mentality, and if they don’t have that mentality Petersen will probably pass on them.
Petersen recruits players to fit into the system, I am sure that if you have heard him talk at all about his move from Boise to UW you have heard him use the word “fit”, he clearly puts a value on that. Petersen believes that the culture of a team is what makes the team great, and that is where fit comes into play in recruiting. Petersen preaches three core values for his team: Accountability, Unity, Integrity. Forbes magazine did an article on the philosophy of the Boise State football program under Petersen and this quote stood out to me, “In fact, Boise State might be the only sports program where the first criteria in recruiting new talent is not how well they play the actual game, but whether they align with the program’s core values.”
This does not mean that Petersen is not looking for talented players; it does not mean that OKG stands for “white football player from the country with good academics, no offers from big time schools and only 2 stars,” as some out there have implied. It means that Petersen and his staff have a certain type of person they are looking for, and if he so happens to be really freaking talented, then awesome (Hi, Budda Baker)!
OKG can also be used as a terrific recruiting pitch, especially because the pitch should fit into the mindset of the player they are recruiting. The coaches can go into a recruit’s house or call him up on the phone and say, “Hey, we really believe you are an OKG for us. We know you want to work extremely hard in school and in football, get a great education, and win football games. You gotta understand that if you come to Washington it’s not going to be easy, you are going to have to work your tail off, are you ready to do that?” The best thing about this OKG philosophy is that the response to the pitch itself is what will tell the coaches if the player will fit in their culture. They have already done the research on the player, and if the player responds positively to that pitch than they know they have a guy they can count on to work their ass off.
One of my favorite quotes from Petersen that has stuck with me was, I believe, during the Signing Day press conference. He was asked about recruiting kids and how it works and he said, “Sometimes I wonder ‘should I really be saying this to a recruit,’” I am sure he is basically telling these recruits don’t come here if you don’t want to work hard. He is almost trying to convince them not to come to UW, and if they still do, then Petersen and the staff know they have a guy they can count on that will fit their culture.
So sit back and relax, Husky Fans, recruiting will be just fine.