Washington suddenly finds itself in a precarious spot. After more than two decades with the department, athletic director Jen Cohen is leaving Seattle to take the same position at USC. One year before the Huskies make the jump from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, they’re faced with a massively important hire.

Cohen will prove difficult to replace. She’s on the College Football Playoff committee. And she brought Kalen DeBoer to Montlake. Folks in these positions are usually judged by the football coaches they hire, and Cohen hired DeBoer. He was a proven winner before moving to the Power Five level, and showed immediately at UW that he’s going to be the same at the P5 level.

DeBoer isn’t likely to need replacing anytime soon, but UW will need a person to helm the athletic department who will match DeBoer’s ambition.

Why not former Husky head coach Chris Peterson?

The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reported in the wake of Monday’s news that UW’s search will “undoubtedly” begin with Peterson.

From Wilner’s report:

To be clear: We’re deeply skeptical of Petersen’s desire to plunge into the daily grind of running an athletic department.

After all, he stepped down as coach after the 2019 season, in part, because of frustrations over the direction of college football. Four years later, the sport’s trajectory hasn’t changed — if anything, it has drifted further from Petersen’s ideal. As head of the department, he would be immersed in the unseemly side.

That said, Petersen would be an invaluable resource for UW during the search. So he needs to be the first phone call — make him say no, then let him offer advice.

Wilner also offered seven other candidates for the position, but couched the names as more informed speculation than hard reporting. Oregon State’s Scott Barnes was on the list — a name that popped up more than a few times on social media as a potential Cohen replacement.

The search, according to Wilner, could take months. As it prepares for the Big Ten, Washington has to get the hire right.