Turns out Boise State fans really didn’t know Chris Petersen very well after all

Posted: 12/09/2013 in college football
Tags: , , , , ,

Watching Chris Petersen stand at a podium with a big purple W and raving proudly about his new job was entertaining television on Monday afternoon.

Not because he suddenly morphed from a boring guy to the second coming of Benny Hill. But because it reminds me how all these folks in Boise would chastise me when I’d tell them Petersen would eventually trade in the Boise State job for a better gig.

One of the comments I would hear most was “Oh, you don’t know Coach Pete.”

That one always made me laugh because none of these fans KNOW the guy. They make perceptions off what they see and hear from people like me.

Another good one was “Coach Pete is different.”

Perhaps different from those guys that change jobs every couple years but I can tell you this: The day he decided to get into coaching, Petersen surely didn’t set the top of his aspirations as “being head coach at Boise State.”

So Petersen slipped out of Boise without a peep last Friday to cash in on his success and take a better-paying job in a much-better conference. You know – what nearly all coaches do.

No surprise here. I’ve been the one insisting for years that this would eventually happen.

But people in Boise are still in mourning as they try to come to grips that their beloved coach has departed. A new guy will be appointed soon but who knows whether that person will be able to keep the Broncos in the upper-echelon of an evolving college football world.

Petersen is very much aware of what lies on the horizon and he certainly expressed how proud he is to be Washington’s new coach. And Monday’s press conference marked his first public statements on why he traded in Boise State’s Blue Turf for Washington’s fabulous lakefront stadium.

He said he hadn’t hit a ceiling at Boise State but his comments sure made it sound like the top of his head had at least scraped some of the plaster a few times lately.

“At the end of the day, I would have had a hard time looking at myself,” Petersen said about possibly staying in Boise. “Just a feeling that it was time. It was time for that next step and that next challenge and new horizons.”

Petersen termed “timing” and “fit” as the big reasons for why he departed Boise State. He said multiple times that he needed to “take that step out of that comfort zone.”

The Broncos got mauled at Washington in their 2013 season opener but playing in Seattle gave Petersen a first-hand look at the renovated facilities and the atmosphere.

“Deep down I really liked it,” said Petersen, “because that’s what college football should be all about.”

That comment is probably the most telling as Petersen’s new stadium holds twice as many as people as his old one. Sure sounds like someone who has been yearning to be part of the big-time and has no interest in looking back.

Petersen’s 92-12 record as Boise State’s coach is mighty impressive – this season’s 8-4 marks one-third of his losses in eight seasons – and now we will really get a chance to assess his coaching abilities.

Look around at the coaches in the Pac-12 and it will be interesting to see how he fares. Basically, we will finally get to see if Petersen is a top-notch coach against elite competition or just a more-polished Dan Hawkins.

Playing tough teams week-after-week will be a challenge for Petersen and Washington fans need to hope that the fact he was outcoached by San Diego State’s Rocky Long in back-to-back seasons isn’t a sign of what’s to come.

But that is stuff we will judge down the line. Monday was the time to learn why Petersen had finally bid farewell to Boise State.

“It was a feeling like I needed to take a step out of Boise to really grow and improve,” Petersen said. “At the end of the day, I didn’t think it was best for me to be over there to be the best person and coach.

“It’s really good for me and my family and it is really good for them over there.”

So yeah, Boise State fans, you truly didn’t really know your coach, did you?

  1. Doug Bridewell says:

    Maybe the fact he’ll be to recruit top flight talent and be able to compete for national championships had something to do with his decision. If he could take BSU and turn them into a national power, my guess is he’ll be just fine at UW. You seem to forget he has had several opportunities to go to big time programs in the past. My belief is he stayed out of loyalty to BSU, and love of the community. So he lost to SDSU 2 years in a row. Petersen also had a mediocre QB the last couple of years, leading to an offense that couldn’t stay on the field very long. This in turn leads to a defense that becomes tired and vulnerable.

    In concluding, I believe you should be thanking him for his years of service and success while at BSU, as opposed to crying sour grapes. Petersen not only is a great coach, but a great man. If a person doesn’t seek new challenges and successes in life, they’re kind of staying in neutral I’d say. Congratulations Coach Petersen; I wish you years of success at UW, and I know you left BSU in good hands. Good luck BSU; I have no doubt you will continue with a successful football program!

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