BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Chris Petersen finally did what Boise State fans have feared for years: Bring to an end his wildly successful run as Broncos coach and take a job with a bigger program in a more competitive conference.
Petersen announced Friday he was moving deeper into the Pacific Northwest to coach at Washington, leaving Boise State athletic officials with the biggest hiring decision in the program's history.
Since taking over in 2006, Petersen, 49, compiled a 92-12 record. But even more than that stellar winning percentage, Petersen, who began his career at Boise State in 2001, lifted a program that was a perennial bully in a small regional conference to a team that twice busted its way into the BCS postseason scene.
"I know Bronco Nation joins me in thanking Chris Petersen for all he did to advance Boise State's football program over the last 13 years," said Bob Kustra, Boise State president. "We were lucky to have him and Washington is lucky to have him."
Petersen met for the final time with the team and coaches Friday morning and will not coach the Broncos in a bowl game later this month. Officials also named assistant Bob Gregory interim coach.
Athletic director Mark Coyle announced Friday the start of a national search for a replacement. Coyle, who arrived in Boise two years ago amid another round of end-of-season rumors linking Petersen to Stanford and other higher profile jobs, likely has a short list of candidates handy.
One of those candidates could be Huskies defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who was in charge of the Broncos defense for three years under Petersen. There's also been chatter about Wilcox following Steve Sarkisian to USC, providing the Trojans are interested in paying the $1 million buyout in Wilcox's contract.
Boise native and Arkansas State head coach Bryan Harsin is another potential option. A former Boise State player and offensive coordinator under Petersen, Harsin left in 2010 to run the offense at Texas and took over at Arkansas State two years ago.