August 10, 2014 in Sports

UW’s Petersen backs off ESPN vote

Christian Caple Tacoma News Tribune

SEATTLE – Hurt feelings surfaced in Boise this week after Washington coach Chris Petersen voted “yes” in an ESPN poll asking Pac-12 coaches whether they’d be in favor of scheduling nonconference games exclusively within the realm of the “Power Five” conferences.

The Power Five consists of the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC. Absent from that group is the Mountain West, which includes Boise State, which is where Petersen coached for eight seasons before taking the UW job in December.

The thought in Boise, then, was that by voting “yes” in that ESPN poll, Petersen was also implicitly stating that he doesn’t think schools like Washington should play against schools like Boise State.

But after Saturday’s practice at UW, Petersen said he doesn’t feel that way at all, and that an Idaho Statesman column about this very subject “misrepresented” his feelings.

“I think I was misrepresented in that article over there in Boise,” Petersen said. “I wouldn’t do anything … first of all, I don’t even know when I answered that question. I had a lot of questions coming at me. I didn’t really know exactly what it meant.

“I think we’re trying to get some parity in terms of scheduling, in terms of league games that we play, that we’re on the same footing there. But I think of Boise State as … I don’t know if they’re in a quote “power conference,” but they’re a power team. I’m always a Boise State fan and I wouldn’t do anything to keep those guys out of the mix.”

That’s what some fear will happen, though, in light of the NCAA board of governors’ vote last week that approved more autonomy for the Power Five, granting those conferences and schools more power to write their own rules.

While it’s not likely that any earth-shattering change will result from those conferences being given more power – moderate changes to player compensation and scholarship values are more likely – smaller schools such as Boise State could wind up at even more of a recruiting disadvantage than they are already facing.

But Petersen said he’d have no problem scheduling those teams, regardless of how he voted in the ESPN poll.

“I’ve been in that conference forever and I’ve known the players and the coaches forever, so there’s no question that we’d want to play those guys and I know they want to play us,” Petersen said. “There’s good players and that’s great competition.”

And the autonomy vote as a whole?

“I think if we can do more for our student-athletes, that is good,” Petersen said.

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