When the Washington Huskies suit up Jan. 1 for the 2019 Rose Bowl across from mighty Ohio State, the purple sideline will be painted in OKG’s (Our Kinda Guys) – a colloquialism Chris Petersen has used for years to describe a worthy high school recruit.
The Husky head coach has made significant headway in recruiting the past four season for an average incoming class rank of 20.5. And while many find that figure of great value, Mike Leach of Washington State isn’t likely to give his cross-state rival a pat on the back.
Leach says media recruiting services and rankings are artificial. And while it’s not necessarily a stance taken by the general public, one would be less than impressed if they were to sit behind closed doors and observe the science of awarding potential recruits stars.
“I don’t recall ever calling any of those individuals and asking them what I should run on third down, so I certainly don’t ask them who can play,” Leach said.
Leach has made a killing over the course of his 31-year career finding undervalued talent and diamonds in the rough. WSU’s recruiting metrics over the past 4 seasons would rank them 9th in the conference, though their winning percentage over that same timeframe is good for second.
With the 2019 early signing period among us, many coaches were eager to grab a microphone and address the future of their program. With players flipping commitments and backing out last second, drama often ensues.
Petersen said he never thought twice about losing a recruit come signing day, but in recent years the idea – or reality for that matter – more than lingers. Calling opposing programs and recruiters “vultures” who practice “lowdown tactics” by contacting his longtime commits, it seems Saint Pete – a world-class coach – has a memory bank that clocks out every 5 years or so.
“We just operate such a different way,” Chris Petersen said.
The year was 2013, Petersen had just arrived in Montlake and the Husky program was no where near his standard of excellence. His first motive of operation? To flip Budda Baker – a verbal commit to Oregon – purple.
“It was the No. 1 thing we had to get done when we first arrived here,” co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake told ESPN reporter Chantel Jennings.
And it worked. Baker was a force for Washington over his three-year career posting 199 tackles and 5 picks for the westside rivals.
“Why would you be calling those kids? They’ve been committed to us forever. But they do, and they’re sending texts and doing all this stuff just to see if there’s any slight change, and if there is, look out. I think it’s hard. These are kids, and even the families are going through this stuff for the first time.”Chris Petersen
Life must beat to the sound of a different drum from the luxurious ivory towers of Montlake. Perhaps Petersen left his only mirror back in Boise.