It took Chris Petersen a little more than three weeks to finalize most of his Washington football coaching staff. Monday the school released news of those who are filling vacancies created by Steve Sarkisian’s departure to USC. Significantly, Tosh Lupoi, the assistant facing an investigation for allegedly funding a UW recruit’s online classes and tutoring, is no longer on staff, still employed but reassigned “other duties within the UW athletic department.”
Lupoi has denied any wrongdoing in the alleged NCAA rule violations episode brought to light in a Los Angeles Times story Dec. 18 about Lynnwood High School lineman Andrew Basham, who did not qualify for admission to UW in the fall. If the NCAA determines the allegations are true, both Washington and USC, where Sarkisian works, could be subject to sanctions.
The assistants joining Petersen at Montlake have worked under the former Boise State head coach during their careers. All but two spent 2013 coaching a Broncos team that finished 8-5.
“I’m thrilled to welcome this talented group of coaches to Washington,” Petersen said Monday in a statement released by the school. “They bring with them both a wealth of experience, and an understanding of what we want to accomplish here and how to get it done.”
His new staff:
- Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski: A Boise State graduate in 1990 and 16-year member of the Boise State coaching staff (two stints), Kwiatkowski, like Petersen, seemed a coach that might spend the rest of his career on blue turf. After starting his career as Montana State’s defensive coordinator (2000-05), he spent 2006-09 as the Broncos’ defensive line coach and the past four seasons as defensive coordinator for a unit that posted elite numbers. In each of the last three seasons under Kwiatkowski, Boise State’s defense finished in the top 25 nationally in total defense (second in 2010, 16th in 2011 and 12th in 2012), a distinction it shared with six other teams in the FBS.
- Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith: He spent the last two years at Boise State as quarterbacks coach and the previous two at Montana (2010-11), holding the dual role he’ll own as mentor to Keith Price’s successors. Prior to his gig with the Grizzlies, Smith coached quarterbacks for six seasons at Idaho, guiding quarterback Nathan Enderle to the fifth-best passer rating (157.28) in the country in 2009. As a player, Smith was one of the best quarterbacks in Oregon State history under coach Dennis Erickson, a walk-on and four-year starter that led the 2001 Beavers to an 11-1 record, a Pac-10 Championship and a win in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. He also set the school’s career record for passing yards (9,680), total offense (9,209) and passing touchdowns (55).
- Associate head coach/offensive line coach Chris Strausser: An offensive assistant at Oregon State from 1991-92 and an offensive line coach at Colorado in 2006, Strausser had two stints at Boise State, the second of which lasted seven seasons (he was an offensive line coach under Dan Hawkins from 2001-2005). Since Strausser returned to coaching the Broncos’ line in 2010, the unit is one of two in the country to remain in the top 10 nationally in sacks allowed, averaging just .67 sacks per game during the past three seasons.
- Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Bob Gregory: Undoubtedly, Gregory, a Washington State graduate in 1987 and Cal defensive coordinator from 2002-09, wants his gig at Washington to go better than his one game as a college head man. Named the interim coach for Boise State’s appearance in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Gregory watched the Broncos get waxed by Oregon State, 38-23. The week leading up to the game was messier, as Gregory sent home starting quarterback Joe Southwick after his signalcaller allegedly urinated off a hotel balcony.
- Defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake: The Eastern Washington (2000) alumnus has NFL experience. He was Tampa Bay’s assistant defensive backs coach from 2006-07 before two stints as head defensive backs coach: Detroit in 2008 and again in Tampa Bay from 2010-11. He spent two years in Boise in the latter role and in 2012 led a secondary that ranked fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense (101.35). The same year the Broncos ranked 12th in the country with 18 interceptions. In 2004, he was an assistant secondary coach at Washington.
- Running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Keith Bhonapha: Unofficial winner of UW athletic director Scott Woodward’s “Coolest Name for an Assistant Coach Award,” Bhonapha worked under Petersen for eight years, the last five as a running backs coach. He was a running back at Hawaii, where he graduated in 2003, then spent three years there as a graduate assistant before going to Boise State.
- Defensive line/special teams coach Jeff Choate: The name should sound familiar to WSU fans. Choate was WSU’s linebackers coach in 2012 before becoming UTEP’s defensive coordinator, a position he held for just a few months (he never coached in a game) until Will Muschamp lured him to Florida to become the special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. Choate spent six seasons with Petersen at Boise State before ascending the coaching ladder.
- Wide receivers coach Brent Pease: After serving the past two years as Florida’s offensive coordinator, Pease, a Moscow, ID. native, will assume a role with much less responsibility for the Huskies. In 2013, Pease’s offense ranked last in the SEC in yards and total scoring, and the Gators had a losing record for the first time since 1979. Pease was Boise State’s wide receivers coach from 2006-10 and the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2011.
- Strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha: The former graduate assistant at Auburn was Petersen’s strength and conditioning coach at Boise State from 2006-13.
- Director of player personnel Rich Rasmussen: A former tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator under Paul Wulff at WSU, Rasmussen, a Tacoma native and Lincoln High School graduate, also coached 12 years at Eastern Washington. He served as director of player personnel under Petersen from 2012-13.
- Director of football operations Mike McHugh: He held this position at Cal for 10 years before spending 2013 as the coordinator of football operations at Fresno State.