SEATTLE – Early in the second quarter of an SEC game between Alabama and Tennessee on Saturday afternoon, during an otherwise routine blowout victory for the top-ranked Crimson Tide broadcast nationwide on CBS, a television camera cut to the press box to show a conversation between CBS announcers Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson.
The conversation centered on the apparent debate surrounding Alabama’s schedule.
“It’s been a talking point everywhere,” Danielson said. “Even recently, Chris Petersen said: ‘If we had Alabama’s schedule, we’d be undefeated.’ Well, if Alabama played Washington’s schedule, they’d be undefeated too.”
“Yes, they would,” Nessler added.
Chris Petersen has not talked publicly about Alabama’s schedule at any point this year.
The only time he has mentioned Alabama this year was as a compliment to Auburn in the buildup to UW’s season opener in Atlanta. “Alabama-ish,” Petersen called Auburn’s defense.
The CBS crew’s comments about Petersen from Saturday afternoon appear to originate from a fabricated quote that was posted on Twitter last week from the handle @CFBKings.
“If we had Alabama’s schedule, we would be 7-0 right now. But, I’d much rather have our 5-2 record while playing real competition than to be 7-0 playing teams like Arkansas and Louisiana every week.”
That was the fake quote on @CFBKings, attributed to Washington’s coach. It has since been deleted. A spokesman for CBS declined comment this week.
The truth is, Petersen has to be one of the least controversial coaches in America. He often goes out of his way to avoid hot-button topics, which is part of the reason the spat he (unintentionally) stepped into with ESPN a year ago was so confounding to him and many others around UW.
Petersen rarely talks about other programs or other coaches, and if he does it’s almost always in a flattering manner.
“We just worry about ourselves,” he often says.
Another graphic circulated on Twitter showed the fabricated “quote” about Alabama’s schedule and attributed it to Bleacher Report “via” The Seattle Times.
Again, Petersen never said anything about Alabama or the Crimson Tide schedule, and searches show that neither The Seattle Times nor Bleacher Report quoted Petersen saying anything remotely close to that. A spokesman from UW said he was “completely unaware of Coach Petersen ever having said anything about Alabama’s schedule, in any manner, and certainly not in a public/press arena.”
This is not the first time Petersen and the Huskies have had fabricated quotes attributed to them around SEC country.
Two other times in the past two years, doctored quotes have circulated before Washington games against SEC teams.
In the buildup to the UW-Alabama game in the College Football Playoff semifinal in December 2016, a quote attributed to Washington offensive lineman Kaleb McGary was posted outside one of Alabama meeting rooms. The quote read: “Somebody has to knock off BAMA and that’s going to be us!”
McGary’s actual quote published in The Seattle Times: “Someone has to knock them off. Why not us?”
There were two other printed quotes posted at Alabama’s facility, shown in a photo taken by an ESPN reporter posted on Twitter before the CFP semifinal in Atlanta. One noted how good Washington’s secondary is and another claimed Alabama was “overconfident.” Those quotes were attributed to “national media,” and appeared to be nothing more than manufactured bulletin-board material.
This summer, another graphic circulated on Twitter claiming to quote Petersen saying “I don’t think half of Auburn’s starters” could start for the Huskies.
It was also fabricated. (The original source of that graphic could not be found.)
On Monday, Petersen was asked to weigh in on the ongoing controversy surrounding the Pac-12’s replay officiating – a topic from which Washington State coach Mike Leach hasn’t shied away.
Petersen had no interest in commenting publicly on it, showing his aversion to controversy.
“I really just – I’ve got enough problems. That’s how I think of this,” he said (this is an actual quote).
He was then asked three more follow-up questions about Pac-12 officiating and whether it concerned him.
“Like I said, I know where you’re going with this. I really, truly do,” he said. “I try to be as honest with you guys as I can. It really didn’t concern us. They’re going to fix it. I just try to worry about ourselves and be the best we can. We trust that they’re going to fix the problem and move forward.”
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