After 30 consecutive seasons of coaching in college football, Dave Christensen took a much-needed hiatus in 2016.
Christensen had just been let go as the run-game coordinator after one season at Texas A&M, so he and his wife, Susie, settled back in Missouri. He played lots of golf. He hosted a radio show in St. Louis. He also traveled to Atlanta for the College Football Playoff semifinals to watch his alma mater — Washington — play Alabama.
Then out of the blue, Arizona State coach Todd Graham called in March. He wanted an extra set of experienced eyes on what was going on with the Sun Devils’ program, and offered the former Wyoming coach a job — as the team’s non-coaching consultant.
“I jumped back in here,” said the 56-year-old Everett native, who has a winter home not too far away in Phoenix.
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This week, the Sun Devils host the No. 5 Huskies on Saturday night in Tempe.
So what does being a “non-coaching consultant” mean exactly? Just like a regular staff coach, Christensen reviews film, sits in on position-group meetings and gathers with other coaches, including Graham, to devise a weekly game plan.
The only difference from what Christensen did at previous stops – UW (1989-90), Idaho State (1990-91), Toledo (1992-2000), Missouri (2001-08), Wyoming (2009-13), Utah (2014) and Texas A&M (2015) – is that he does not instruct players on the field.
“It is more of being back in the role as a head coach where I wasn’t doing a lot of on-field coaching,” Christensen said. “It is being involved in football from a different aspect. I am right here doing that every single day.”
It is a full-time job that takes up 12-14 hours a day, Christensen said.
The position is structured much like it was at the UW last season when former California coach Jeff Tedford served as a consultant under Chris Petersen. Tedford is now the coach at Fresno State.
Huskies offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said having Tedford around for a year was beneficial.
“He brought some really great nuggets of wisdom as we went through it,” Smith said, “It is about the right fit. ... and that is why (Tedford) was so good. He would come in and say, ‘Hey, maybe (here’s) an idea. If you like it, great. If you don’t, whatever.’ He came in with no ego.”
Much like Tedford did with the Huskies, Christensen mainly helps with ASU’s offense.
Where this role ultimately takes him, Christensen said he has no idea.
“I don’t worry about that as much as I used to when I was younger,” Christensen said. “I have trust and faith that I will end up where I am supposed to.”
Smith, a former Oregon State quarterback (1998-2001), has had his name linked to the Beavers’ job. Former coach Gary Andersen resigned suddenly Monday morning after his team got off to a 1-5 start. “I’ve got a great job here,” Smith said. “Obviously I’ve got great memories there and what not, but I’ve got extreme focus really on us.” ... UW athletic officials announced Tuesday that limited tickets are available for the Huskies’ remaining home games, including 500 for the Apple Cup against Washington State.
1. WASHINGTON (6-0, No. 1 last week)
Last week: d. California, 38-7
This week: Sat. at Arizona State
Not having won at ASU since 2001, UW might need four quarters to lay this desert demon to rest.
2. WASHINGTON STATE (6-0, No. 2)
Last week: d. Oregon, 33-10
This week: Fri. at California
People are running out of reasons why fast-moving Cougars cannot win a Pac-12 championship.
3. USC (5-1, No. 4)
Last week: d. Oregon State, 38-10
This week: Sat. vs. Utah
Even against hapless Beavers, QB Sam Darnold (two turnovers) showed USC not close to dominant.
4. STANFORD (4-2, No. 6)
Last week: d. Utah, 23-20
This week: vs. Oregon
RB Bryce Love a weekly Heisman-hopeful highlight, even if it has to air at midnight on the East Coast.
5. UTAH (4-1, No. 3)
Last week: Lost to Stanford, 23-20
This week: Sat. at USC
Quartetback carousel (Troy Williams, Cooper Bateman) needs to get WR Darren Carrington II galloping.
6. OREGON (4-2, No. 5)
Last week: lost to Washington State, 33-10
This week: Sat. at Stanford
Not sure this is the week QB Braxton Burmeister starts flinging it around, even against depleted Stanford.
7. UCLA (3-2, No. 7)
Last week: Bye week
This week: Sat. at Arizona
As if coach Jim Mora doesn’t attract enough drama on his own, now television’s “The Drive” will air more.
8. ARIZONA (3-2, No. 10)
Last week: d. Colorado, 45-42
This week: Sat. vs. UCLA
QB Khalil Tate goes from backup to FBS record-setter (327 rushing yards against Colorado) in second career start.
9. COLORADO (3-3, No. 8)
Last week: lost to Arizona, 45-42
This week: Sat. at Oregon State
Even with recent rash of losses, high-powered Buffaloes sure know how to put on a show.
10. CALIFORNIA (3-3, No. 9)
Last week: lost to Washington, 38-7
This week: Fri. vs. Washington State
Finally, the frustrating first-year growing pains starting to show up for new coach Justin Wilcox.
11. ARIZONA STATE (2-3, No. 11)
Last week: Bye week
This week: Sat. vs. Washington
Are quarterbacks afraid to take deep shots on UW defense? Bet QB Manny Wilkins will Saturday.
12. OREGON STATE (1-5, No. 12)
Last week: lost to USC, 38-10
This week: Sat. vs. Colorado
Gary Andersen is gone, but the coach is leaving behind an unprecedented gift — $12 million in salary.