The landscape of the Mountain West has shifted overnight with the Friday morning news that Chris Petersen is out at Boise State and headed to Washington.
With the Broncos, Petersen formulated the gold standard for midmajor programs and breaking into the BCS. He has started his career as a head coach at 92-12, winning the Fiesta Bowl in 2006 and 2009.
This is a powerful departure in the Mountain Division. The Broncos finished 8-4 on the year and were leading the division for most of the way until stumbling at San Diego State. At the moment, Utah State, Boise State, Air Force and New Mexico seem to be the only teams that have returning coaches after Dave Christensen was fired on Sunday.
Although the Rams have shown signs that they will compete for the division in upcoming years under Jim McElwain, the Aggies could have an easier road to the Mountain West title game next year with Petersen departing. Of course, expect Boise State to aim for a home run hire in the next few weeks to address the leadership vacuum.
It's interesting to note that although the Mountain West hasn't faired well in its non-conference slate this year that several coaches seem to be on the rise. Petersen has been discussed as a high-level candidate for years. Tim DeRuyter is getting attention for his 19-5 run at Fresno State. McElwain could be looking at that discussion soon if he continues to turn around Colorado State. And of course earlier this week, Utah State had Matt Wells' Wake Forest scare - that wasn't a true rumor, but there could be more rumors to come if the Aggies stay in the upper tier of the Mountain West.
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon