Scott Woodward was out of town on Monday tending to personal business, but Washington’s athletic director did answer questions from reporters during a teleconference following Chris Petersen’s introductory press conference.
Some notes from Woodward’s comments …
— Woodward mostly said the same thing about UW’s assistant coaches as Petersen — that it’s too early to say who might end up where. But Woodward did say that aside from the three assistants who already left for USC, he thinks the rest of the staff will remain through the Fight Hunger Bowl. After that, Petersen’s chosen staff will take over full-time.
“That’s what he’s paid to do. Coach is going to figure that out,” Woodward said. “I’m involved when he wants me to be involved. We have assistants with contractual obligations and we’ll have new assistants who have contractual obligations and we’ll deal with those as they come.
“… I think we have some stability right now, but you just never know. But I feel good and confident going forward that the ones that are here will stay and coach with us.”
— Woodward said he spoke with a couple of other candidates, but that Petersen was the only coach who was offered the job. One can conclude from that comment, then, that Jim Mora wasn’t formally offered the job, though reports indicated that UW did make overtures to the UCLA coach.
— To that end, Woodward, as expected, wouldn’t discuss who else he reached out to — or who was atop his wish list — saying only: “You can’t speculate on who’s high and who’s low. As soon as he expressed interest and I was interested, (Petersen) was right at the top.”
— Of Petersen’s 5-year, $18 million salary, Woodward said: “There’s always negotiation and I’m not going to go into the details of that, but we came to an amicable agreement and I think we paid Coach Petersen market (value), and we’re going to be competitive in the market. That’s how I feel about it, and that’s how he feels about it as well. He wants to be paid what he’s worth, and I want to pay him what he’s worth.”
— Woodward first met Petersen last season before the Las Vegas Bowl. He came away with a good impression.
“Very positive,” he said. “I came away just blown away and impressed with the attributes I just mentioned previously.”
Petersen wasn’t so sure he came off all that well.
“I think I was probably rude to him,” Petersen joked. “When the other team walks in, you’ve kind of got your game face on. No. I didn’t think about it then. Somebody was just asking me about when you compete three months ago about how weird this is. I hadn’t even thought about it like that but yeah, it’s weird.”
Here’s the rest of what Woodward said …
(On how everything started) “There was mutual interest very quickly and we began discussions very early in the process, and continued them until we met face to face on Thursday night in Boise.”
(Did you speak with Petersen when you hired Sarkisian?) “We never spoke to Coach.”
(On what made it feel right) “I think Coach said it right – it kept going through my head when we met face to face – fit. He’s a class guy who runs a class program with an impeccable record, with impeccable integrity. Our type of guy and our type of coach. I thought at the end of the day the answer to the equation was fit, and I felt really comfortable about it.”
(Concerned that he might not want to leave Boise?) “You always are concerned about that, but I felt really good about it early on because I knew there was very much mutual interest between the two of us.”
(Did you have a plan for if Sarkisian left?) “You’re just prepared. You’re always prepared for a coach to leave and he (Petersen) was always high on that mental list you keep in your head of what happens if you have to replace a coach. He was always high on the top of that list.”
(Did Steve Sarkisian mention USC job to you after Lane Kiffin was fired?) “Steve and I talked all the time. We never talked about him going there or hypothetical. I knew it was his dream job and I knew it would be difficult for him if offered. Hey, he did it and I wish him well and I wish him success, except for when he plays the Huskies.”
(Did it cross your mind that you could upgrade from Sarkisian?) “I never thought of it like that. I view myself as a steward of this program and of this great institution, I just went to work and put my head down and said hey, I’m going to find the best guy I can possibly get for this incredible place, for these incredible student-athletes. That’s what I did and I think at the end of the day we were very successful at doing so.”
(On Petersen’s personality) “He exudes genuineness. When you meet him, as soon as you grasp his hand and look him in the eye, you feel like, ‘God, this is a real guy.’ This is someone who I can do a deal with. I felt good as soon as I really get that first, what did they call all those Malcolm Gladwell moments? A blink moment, when you just say wow, this is pretty incredible. He was that way with me. As soon as I met him face to face again, after having meeting him in the Las Vegas Bowl, and getting his sole attention, I really felt good. It just went on from there. It was just comfortable. Here again, I go back to that same term, fit, and when you have someone who wants you as much as you want them and you have someone who just feels right who has accomplished so much in his career everywhere he’s been, and has done it the right way, it just becomes very simple and you become very at ease with the decision when you make it.”
(How confident were you when you left Boise on Thursday?) “I felt very good about it, but you know me, guys. I’m not one to really feel good until he was here today at the press conference. So I felt really good about it and I felt really good the whole week that we could make a deal.”
(On the Don James factor and trying to match his influence) “It always has a factor, it always has a feeling. Don had a great influence on me, guys, as you all know, both directly and indirectly. He was on my stadium committee when we built this stadium. His protégé, Nick Saban, had a big influence on how I think about football and the organization of football. Don looms in my mind and whether subconscious or consciously, in a big way, and as Coach Petersen mentioned today, and brought up Coach’s name, he really does cast a great positive shadow over this place.”
(Feedback from references you contacted?) “It was unanimity, so everyone I talked to was very positive, and I asked some really good, hard questions. Whether you go through this process quickly or you go through it like I go through it all the time in my mind, I knew he was with impeccable integrity and with impeccable reputation.”