Boise State football coach Chris Petersen enters his eighth season as the Broncos head coach when fall camp opens Monday.
Hes 84-8, making him the winningest active coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He arrived at Boise State in 2001 as the offensive coordinator and, at 48, has become one of the nations most respected coaches.
One of the greatest traits about Coach Petersen is his consistency, senior quarterback Joe Southwick said. He talks about you cant have bad days and good days, peaks and valleys. And he is just Mr. Consistency not even day to day, but year to year, with what hes trying to get done. He has that vision of what he wants the program to look like and he does a great job of getting everyone pointed toward that vision.
Petersen met with the media for about 90 minutes last week at Mountain West media days in Las Vegas. Heres what he had to say about the program, his role and his future:
Question: Boise State has been building pieces of its football program for more than 15 years and now nearly all of the pieces are in place. How do you feel about the state of the program and its direction?
Answer: Its in a good position. Our facilities are top notch, spectacular. And thats going to help us in recruiting. Sometimes theres a lag effect on all this stuff. Youve got to do things for a while and then it all catches up. Thats going to have an effect as we move forward here. Our coaches are great. Our administration, the operations people that we have with our recruiting guys and our (directors of football operations) and our secretaries, I think the infrastructure is finally set in place. So Im really excited about all that.
Q: Is it shocking at all to see what has been built in such a short time?
A: Its great, it really is. And I dont want to say shocked. Everybodys kind of worked toward that, expected that, knowing its really hard to get that done. A lot of that credit goes to people in our community. Thats not going to happen without those people stepping up. We really appreciate everybody whos done that.
Q: There is so much talk about what the new Bleymaier Football Complex will do for recruiting. Where do you expect to see a difference?
A: The one thing is we have to do this to keep up, so the sad thing about it is some of the places these (recruits) are going to look at, theyre not going to come to Boise, as spectacular as our situation is, and go, Wow. That is better. Thats just going to keep us in the game with some of these other people. And thats what we want to make sure of. Im going to go to this school because the facilities are so much better.
"Well, now they cant say that. It keeps us on a level playing field. And we are going to have better facilities than a bunch of people. ... This is the thing that we can never lose sight of weve gotten so many good players here by just selecting the right kids before we had (these facilities). Hopefully that helps us, but it still is going to come down to us. You just dont want to have a lot of misses in recruiting.
Q: Five or 10 years from now, what do you see as the next wave of big changes to Boise State football?
A: The next step is obviously going to be we have one of the smaller stadiums, so if we build bigger will the people come and fill it up? Because we cant build until we know that. Thats what I think can be the next game-changer. You can add 10,000, 15,000 seats. We dont want to do that unless its going to be filled.
Q: How serious are discussions to expand the stadium?
A: We cant show up to any of our games, no matter who we play, and not have the place packed. As soon as you go to an end-of-the-season game against Colorado State or whatever I know it was Thanksgiving (weekend) and you see empty seats, theyre not going to expand the stadium. The demand needs to be there. The nice thing is the way they built the new (Bleymaier Football Center) facility, the concourse is in there. They had enough vision to go OK, down the road, whenever that is, its set up to add onto.
Q: Do you take pride in what youve helped build at Boise State?
A: It starts with the administration. You look at our athletic complex, but really just go to our campus and look at all the things that have changed there. That starts with the president and on down. I take as much pride in walking on campus and seeing the new buildings there, the housing and how its all changed so dramatically. Not only is the athletic complex very different but the campus is maybe more different. Thats as exciting as anything going on.
Q: Do you see yourself doing this for another 10 or more years?
A: I dont know. I go year to year. Thats what I do. I go through the year and kind of evaluate the situation. I did that the first year I became the head coach. I said, OK, Ill do this for a year and well see. And I really havent changed that thinking.
Q: Other than the football coaching aspect, what do you enjoy about being a head coach?
A: I really like being with our staff. I like being with our players. I like being able to try to put the structure together of the organization, to tweak it and fix it. I enjoy hiring good people and getting them involved. There are a lot of things I do like about it.
Q: Did you come into coaching with a plan and things you wanted to do? Are there any goals you have professionally?
A: Not really. I was always reluctantly going into, it seems, everything. After a while coaching at (UC) Davis I decided, OK, Im going to give this a shot, and I knew I had to leave Davis -- I thought that would be the right thing for me to do. And then Ive kind of always said if theres something else out there that is really appealing and I thought Id be good at it, Id maybe go do it.
Q: How much time do you spend on football and how much on discipline, life skills and other aspects of running a program?
A: The majority of my time is certainly spent on running the program. Football for me is a big bonus. And I definitely carve out time so I can make sure Im in there because that is the part I do enjoy. I do enjoy making sure the organization is run correctly, but I like football certainly the best.
Q: Do you look at yourself like a CEO?
A: I dont know. People always use that word, CEO. For some reason as a football coach I dont like that term, but its definitely different than it was when I started and its definitely different than it was when (coach Dan Hawkins) started (in 2001).
Q: Your involvement extends to things like choosing graphics for the Bleymaier Football Center.
A:Yeah, and sometimes thats just my anal nature. I should let everybody else do that. But I do think it matters. I dont want some sign up there that has something on it that its like, Thats not what we talk about. I want the words that were saying to these kids on there. I think all that matters in terms of how were going to indoctrinate them into what were all about and our culture.
Q: Southwick called you Mr. Consistency. Is that something you strive for?
A: I definitely want to be consistent. Thats one of the things I want our kids to be, is consistent. Now, I dont think of myself as exactly the same. Maybe its good that they feel like that. I really think its important to evolve because our environment changes and I think its important for us to change with the kids and the university and the community and all those things.
Q: How have you evolved during your career?
A: Its hard to put into words, but I have just more experience with certain situations. The thing about this job is theres always a new thing thrown at you. Youre going, I have not seen this. Now youve seen a lot of things and we handled it this way last time and it was good or it wasnt as good. ... Its always about continuous improvement. Thats what I want all of our kids to think about. Thats what I want all of our coaches to think about. Thats what I want me to think about how do we improve? That hopefully keeps you semi-fresh.
Q: How is the stress of this job? Does it get worse over time or become easier to handle?
A: Thats probably one thing I wish I was better at, that I could let certain things roll off my back a little easier. And certainly things that maybe you dont have as much control over. Theres going to be certain things in all of our lives that just happen and then youve got to answer and deal accordingly. As a coach, were always trying to manipulate things in our favor. But there are going to be things that dont go in your favor.
Q: How do you deal with the stress?
A: I exercise and I think its important to get proper rest. Those things are really, really important. And I think its important to have fun with your staff and have fun with the kids, even though at times you dont feel like that. It is important to always keep that enjoyment factor. There are a couple coaching objectives that we really latch onto and one of them is enjoying the process. There are three of them. And I think thats really important its important for me to be able to laugh and have a good time.
Q: What are the other two coaching objectives?
A: Building self-esteem and adding value to their lives.
Q: This is your 13th year in Boise. What has that been like for your family?
A: My oldest (Jack, who will be a freshman at Santa Clara this fall), we came there when he was halfway through his kindergarten year and he made it through the Boise school system. Not many coaches can say that. In some ways, I was always thinking that would be such an awesome thing.
"And it has been awesome.
"But you can also make the case sometimes where, maybe we sheltered our kids too much now by not getting them to different places. But in this day and age in college football, pro football, whatever, to be able to have some stability, weve been lucky.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat
Be sure to go to IdahoStatesman.com at 10 a.m. Thursday. Thats when the USA Today Coaches Poll will be released for the preseason and Idaho Statesman college football writers Chadd Cripe and Brian Murphy will be holding a live chat.