University of Washington receivers coach Brent Pease was fired Friday by head coach Chris Petersen, who had Pease on staff at Boise State from 2006-11 as offensive coodinator. Also Friday, Jeff Choate, assistant in charge of the defensive line and special teams, was hired as head coach at Montana State of the Big Sky Conference.“Coach Pease and I have worked together for a long time and I have tremendous respect for him as a person, and as a football coach,” Petersen said in a statement released by the school. “However, I have decided that a fresh start with this position group is needed to give our team the best chance of reaching its full potential. I am grateful for his contributions and wish him all the best moving forward.”
Petersen didn’t offer reasons. But in 2014, UW receivers developed a reputation for explosive plays. Sophomore John Ross scored on receptions of 91, 55, 75 and 86 yards. Meanwhile, Jaydon Mickens finished the season with 60 receptions, tied for 10th-most in Washington history.
In 2015, Ross sat the season with an injury, Mickens led Washington with 50 catches. No other receiver caught more than 33, and non appeared atop Pac-12 leaderboards as the Huskies adapted to freshman QB Jake Browning.
Petersen mentioned during the season that receivers failed to catch passes when balls weren’t thrown perfectly and were less than adequate on contested balls.
Pease is a native of Moscow, ID.,, and played at Mountain Home, ID., High School before becoming a starting quarterback at the University of Montana. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 11th round of the 1987 draft, backed up former Huskies legend Warren Moon with the Houston Oilers, and also played in the World League.
He had assistant coaching jobs starting in 1991 at Montana, Northern Arizona, Kentucky and Baylor before joining Petersen in 2006, the year in which the Broncos stunned the football world with an upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. They won the Fiesta Bowl Bowl again in 2009.
He coached QB Kellen Moore, who became the first player in FBS history to have 50 wins (50-3). Pease spent 2012-13 coaching at Florida, where he was offensive coordinator/QB coach, before joining Petersen in the move to Seattle.
Choate replaces Rob Ash, who was fired after nine years by the Bozeman school, where he had a school-record 70-38 mark but was 2-7 against rival Montana, which beat the Bobcats 52-35 this season.
Choate, an Idaho native who played linebacker for Montana Western, will be at his fourth school in five years, following single seasons at Washington State (2012) and Florida (2013) and two years at Washington.
“When I got into coaching I didn’t just set out to be a head coach,” Choate said in a statement released Friday night. “I’ve always wanted to be a Big Sky Conference coach. It’s the league I grew up around, and I have strong ties to Montana.
“One of my most enjoyable years in coaching was at Eastern Illinois in the FCS level because it’s a great balance between a great brand of football, talented players, and the commitment of the kids to getting an education, which is the reason we’re all in this. The direction of the program under Coach Ash, the leadership of President Cruzado and the vision of Peter Fields all make this a tremendous opportunity.”
Choate was with Petersen from 2006-2011 at Boise, the same tenure as Pease. He started with the Broncos as running backs coach before switching to linebackers. He was special teams assistant throughout his time.
Choate in 2014 inherited two NFL defensive-line draftees at UW, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha. But he rebuild the line into a unit that helped the Huskies become the Pac-12’s top defense for the second year in a row.
The contracts of all UW assistants expire at the end of January, although Petersen had a two-year extension of his deal, through 2020, announced before the Apple Cup.
The Huskies (6-6), who defeated Washington State in the Apple Cup to become eligible, will learn their bowl pairing early Sunday afternoon.