Washington fires coach Jimmy Lake after less than two seasons
Seattle – When Chris Petersen suddenly decided to step down as coach of the Washington football team in the days following the 2019 Apple Cup, sporting director Gene Cohen thought the best replacement for Husky already existed.
There was no need for search companies. Jimmy Lake was her chosen successor to Petersen.
And after less than two seasons, he is no longer the coach in Washington.
“I realize that ending a coach after 13 games is unusual and quite frankly it definitely goes against my belief as an official,” Cohen said. “However, when I know something is not working or something is not right, I am obligated to act.”
Washington fired Lake Lake on Sunday, having been pushed aside amid a flurry of gaffes and backlash in only his second season in office.
Like’s launch ended in a stunning quick fall with a team that started the season in the AP Top 25 and stumbled through embarrassing losses that sparked indignation in the fan base. Washington 4-6 and needs victories in the last two games to qualify for the tournament. Washington chose not to play in the bowl game last season due to COVID-19 issues. The last time Washington failed to qualify for a ball game was in 2009.
Cohen said the school would honor the terms of Lake’s contract, which puts Washington in a bind of more than $9 million. Lake went 7-6 in the 13 games he coached.
“I evaluated the football program like I evaluate every program in Washington, holistically,” Cohen said. “So it goes back to researching opportunities for student-athletes on and off the field, recruiting and leadership. It was just a combination of things that came to the conclusion that I didn’t have confidence in Coach Lake’s ability to continue to lead the program going forward.”
Washington’s coaching change looks like it’s been building since the start of the season, but it has accelerated in the past two weeks.
Lake was suspended without pay for Saturday’s 35-30 loss to Arizona State after a side incident the previous week against Oregon, when Lake crushed and then pushed one of his players. The accident only added to the heat on Lake and the suspension seemed a prelude to a final break.
Cohen said the suspension was separate from her decision to fire Lake, a decision she said had been made in the past few days.
Defensive coordinator Bob Gregory will serve as interim coach for the remaining two games, including the Apple Cup competition against Washington State.
He also leads temporary coach Cougars after Nick Rolovich left for failing to comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Washington State (5-5) is 1-2 since Rolovich was fired – also less than two seasons in his tenure as Lake – and defensive coordinator Jake Dickert took over.
Washington went 3-1 during the truncated 2020 season after an outbreak of COVID-19 within the program caused the Huskies to cancel their game against Oregon, miss out on a place in the Pac-12 Championship game and decline a bowl invitation. .
Washington entered this season with high expectations and ranked No. 20 in a pre-season poll. But the Huskies were defeated at home by Montana’s powerful FCS side 13-7 to open the season and were beaten 31-10 in Michigan in Week Two.
The two losses created a hole Lake couldn’t get out of and the fans’ anger grew with each passing week, even as the Husky won.
The final straw was Washington’s 26-16 loss to No. 5 Oregon on the night of November 6 as Lake had a side accident with one of his players. Lake punched his right arm at Rupirak Vovaye during a brief skirmish on the Washington sidelines and then shoved his player away. Voavay seems to be exchanging words with Gaylon Reed from Oregon.
The moment of being on the sidelines got him suspended, but it was also another misstep in a growing roster that included Lake who kicked off a week of rivalry by firing on Oregon academics as he spoke about enlistment.
Washington was the first major coaching job for Lake, who grew into one of the most wanted lieutenants in the country while working for Petersen.
Lake rejected initiatives from Alabama and other major programs to stay in Washington, and when Petersen abruptly stepped down after the 2019 regular season, a family of huskies turned into what seemed the obvious choice.
“As an athletics director, the rent is on me and I own it,” Cohen said.
Lake received a five-year contract with a guaranteed value of $16 million. But he made many mistakes along the way, the most obvious being the decision to appoint John Donovan as offensive coordinator. Unable to succeed on previous stops in inspiring the belief that Washington would be different, Donovan was dismissed the day after the loss to Oregon with the Huskies ranked third nationally in several offensive classes.
Lake came to Washington when Petersen moved from Boise State in 2014. Lake was named joint defensive coordinator for the Husky family in 2016.
Prior to his time in Washington, Lake worked in Eastern Washington, Montana State, and Boise State at the college level, and in Tampa Bay and Detroit in the NFL.
“I’m really disappointed and sad that this didn’t work,” Cohen said.
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