If the Washington Huskies beat Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2, UW will end the season with nine wins. Whether that seems like a lot or not so many depends on which side of the fence you’re on.
If you’re first-year head coach Chris Petersen, it’s not a lot. This is the second straight year that Petersen has coached a team to fewer than 10 regular season wins – and also just the second time it’s happened in his nine-year head coaching career. That’s right. For his first seven seasons at Boise State, Petersen’s teams won a minimum of 10 games in the regular season every year. 2013 was his final year for the Broncos, and that was the first time he’d won fewer than 10 games. Or even nine. BSU went 8-4 in the regular season, and he took the Huskies job before the Hawaii Bowl, a Boise State loss.
However, if you’re a Washington Huskies fan, you need to be thrilled with what Petersen has done. Petersen had seven straight 10-win seasons at Boise State. To find the last seven 10-win seasons at UW, you need to go back to 1979, and stop after 2000. That’s right, Washington hasn’t won 10 games in a single year since the Huskies were coached by Rick Neuheisel. That team won the Rose Bowl.
Since then, the Huskies have had four different coaches, went 0-12 in 2008 and have won more than seven games three times. Once is this season’s 8-5 record entering the Cactus Bowl. The second time was last season, when Steve Sarkisian’s final team went 9-4. The third was 2001’s 8-4 mark, the year after the Huskies last won 10 games and the Rose Bowl.
So not only haven’t the Huskies won 10 games since 2000, UW went 11 straight seasons winning seven games or fewer. And – get this – there are Washington fans who expected the moon from Petersen this season. Are you crazy? He’s in his first year for a team that hasn’t been nationally competitive since the second season of “The Sopranos” and you want him to do what?
Washington football doesn’t have that far to go to be a part of the national conversation again. Petersen will win 10 games in the regular season for the Huskies very soon. But nine wins can still happen this year – for the second straight year after it didn’t happen for more than a decade – and Huskies fans should be very satisfied with that. But the head coach won’t be, and that’s a good thing for UW’s future.