Chris Petersen has always intended to be a one-stop shopper wherever he’s gone in coaching college football.
He’s 52, and completed his third season as the head coach at the University of Washington, leading the Huskies to the semifinals of the College Football Playoff in 2016, losing to Alabama.
Before that, he spent eight seasons as the coach at Boise State University.
“I’m getting older now,” Petersen said after UW’s spring practice Wednesday. “It’s harder to move the older you get.”
Which made this the ideal time for the Huskies to sign Petersen to a three-year extension, meaning he will be with the university at least through the 2023 season.
Petersen will be paid about $34.1 million over the next seven years, which makes him highest-paid football coach of a Pac-12 public university.
Equally important to Petersen was seeing that his key assistant coaches were well compensated. The UW increased its salary pool for assistant coaches more than $1 million — to about $4.7million. Each assistant earned a raise and an extension through the 2018 season.
“We’re trying to take care of the guys the best we can,” Petersen said. “That’s what it’s always all about. That’s how I think about everything. I try and create the best environment these guys have ever worked in, and we try to pay them as well as you can.”
The contract extensions have been in the works for some time. Petersen wouldn’t even go as far as to call them “negotiations.”
“They (UW administrators) were so awesome in this thing,” Petersen said.
Of course, everything starts with the head man: Originally slated to make $3.8 million this season, his total compensation now will be about $4.1 million.
As far as his key assistants, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski saw his annual salary bump up to $875,000 (from $600,000), the highest of any assistant coach in school history.
Offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith will be up to $700,000 in 2017, a raise of $260,000. Co-defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who is the team’s defensive backs coach, will make $650,000 this season — an increase of $150,000.
“We still have to grind and work hard, no matter what,” Lake said. “It is never time to relax. We are in here to win championships, so every single ... day, we are trying to recruit great kids, coach these guys up and become better coaches ourselves so we can get this university to new heights.”
When asked if the pay raise gives him greater stability, Lake rejected that notion.
“There is never stability,” Lake said. “I was in Tampa Bay (2010-11), we all got new contracts, had one bad year and guess what — we all got fired.
“I don’t even think about that word (stability). All I think about is that I am with a great group of guys. Chris Petersen allows us to have a great culture with our coaches where we can all bond together, work together, grind together and get better. It is a joy to come to work every single day.”
Petersen said the university’s commitment to the coaches is a big plus with players, including recruits.
“Our coaches have as much stability as we can give them,” Petersen said. “That is important to kids and their parents. They now how volatile this business is, and for Washington to make a statement like this, it’s as impressive as anything can be.”
Former Huskies defensive coordinator Randy Hart has been hanging out at UW spring practices, including Wednesday’s session. He was on the staff when the team shared the national championship with Miami of Florida in 1992. “The more he can be around us, the better for us,” Petersen said. Hart’s last college stop was Stanford in 2015. ... Starting quarterback Jake Browning participated in 11-on-11 drills Wednesday. He completed one pass, a 5-yarder to tight end Drew Sample. ... The star in the secondary continued to be redshirt freshman Byron Murphy, who returned another interception for a touchdown in live action. ... After the Huskies made a long field goal near the end of practice, Petersen made his offensive and special-teams assistants run sprints. Petersen also ran the sideline-to-sideline scamper. The funniest sight was strength and conditioning coach Tim Socha, who is a big man. He gave the team a wave of the hand as he finished last.