Two assistant coaches are leaving the Washington Huskies, but only one by choice.
UW announced via email Friday afternoon that it will not renew the contract of receivers coach Brent Pease, and he will not coach in the Huskies’ bowl game. And Montana State made it official Friday that it has hired UW defensive line coach and special-teams coordinator Jeff Choate as its next head coach.
All UW assistants are working under two-year contracts that expire Jan. 31.
“Coach Pease and I have worked together for a long time and I have tremendous respect for him as a person, and as a football coach,” Huskies coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “However, I have decided that a fresh start with this position group is needed to give our team the best chance of reaching its full potential. I am grateful for his contributions and wish him all the best moving forward.”
Pease was scheduled to be paid $360,000 this year. He came to UW from Florida, where he was fired in 2013 after two seasons as the Gators’ offensive coordinator. He coached under Petersen at Boise State from 2006-11, first as receivers coach, then as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2011.
UW’s receivers struggled throughout the past two seasons, and Petersen lamented the group’s inability to create plays when not wide open or when passes weren’t thrown perfectly.
Choate, meanwhile, has bounced around a few different assistant jobs in the past decade. He worked for Petersen at Boise State from 2006-11, but left to join Mike Leach’s first-year staff at Washington State as linebackers coach in 2012. Choate said he made that move to escape the label of being just a special-teams coach, a stigma that he felt hindered his pursuit of head coaching positions.
After one year at WSU, Choate agreed to become the next defensive coordinator at UTEP under coach Sean Kugler, but left that job before the 2013 season started to help coach linebackers and special teams at Florida under Will Muschamp. After one year in Florida, Choate re-joined Petersen at Washington, and worked there for the past two seasons.
Under his watch, UW’s defensive line became one of the team’s strengths. Choate coached an all-senior group in 2014 led by All-America nose tackle Danny Shelton, but perhaps deserves more credit for the job he did with a younger, less experienced group in 2015, which helped the Huskies lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense.
UW’s special teams also thrived under Choate — the Huskies have returned three punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns the past two seasons, and haven’t allowed a special-teams touchdown in that time.
At Montana State, Choate replaces Rob Ash, who was fired after the 2015 season despite a 70-38 record and four FCS playoff appearances in nine seasons.
“When I got into coaching I didn’t just set out to be a head coach,” Choate said in a statement released by MSU. “I’ve always wanted to be a Big Sky Conference coach. It’s the league I grew up around, and I have strong ties to Montana. One of my most enjoyable years in coaching was at Eastern Illinois in the FCS level because it’s a great balance between a great brand of football, talented players, and the commitment of the kids to getting an education, which is the reason we’re all in this. The direction of the program under Coach Ash, the leadership of President (Waded) Cruzado and the vision of Peter Fields all make this a tremendous opportunity.”