Boise State's Petersen is Mr. Consistency

Chris Petersen talks facilities, the future and the evolution of his career

ccripe@idahostatesman.comJuly 31, 2013 

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen admits he tries to bring a consistent approach to his job. But Petersen also said “It’s important to evolve because our environment changes and I think it’s important for us to change with the kids and the university and the community and all those things.”

  • Monday: First practice of fall camp (closed to public)

    Aug. 18: Fall scrimmage (open to the public), 7 p.m., Bronco Stadium

    Aug. 31: Season opener at Washington, 8 p.m. MDT (Fox Sports 1)

  • A timeline of Boise State football’s recent facility upgrades:

    • Caven-Williams Sports Complex: Indoor practice facility opened in 2006.

    • Stueckle Sky Center: Luxury suites, club seats and press box opened in 2008.

    • Expanded seating: Additional bleacher seats boosted capacity to 37,000 in 2012.

    • Bleymaier Football Center: Football offices, meeting rooms, weight room, training room and locker room opened this summer.

    • HD video board: Bronco Stadium’s high-tech gadget arrives in September.

    • Grass practice field: The new field between Bronco Circle and University Drive opens in 2014.

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen enters his eighth season as the Broncos’ head coach when fall camp opens Monday.

He’s 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 nation’s most respected coaches.

“One of the greatest traits about Coach Petersen is his consistency,” senior quarterback Joe Southwick said. “He talks about you can’t 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 he’s 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. Here’s 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: “It’s in a good position. Our facilities are top notch, spectacular. And that’s going to help us in recruiting. Sometimes there’s a lag effect on all this stuff. You’ve got to do things for a while and then it all catches up. That’s 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 I’m really excited about all that.”

Q: Is it shocking at all to see what has been built in such a short time?

A: “It’s great, it really is. And I don’t want to say shocked. Everybody’s kind of worked toward that, expected that, knowing it’s really hard to get that done. A lot of that credit goes to people in our community. That’s not going to happen without those people stepping up. We really appreciate everybody who’s 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, they’re not going to come to Boise, as spectacular as our situation is, and go, ‘Wow. That is better.’ That’s just going to keep us in the game with some of these other people. And that’s what we want to make sure of. ‘I’m going to go to this school because the facilities are so much better.’

"Well, now they can’t 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 — we’ve 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 don’t 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 can’t build until we know that. That’s what I think can be the next game-changer. You can add 10,000, 15,000 seats. We don’t want to do that unless it’s going to be filled.”

Q: How serious are discussions to expand the stadium?

A: “We can’t 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, they’re 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, it’s set up to add onto.’ ”

Q: Do you take pride in what you’ve 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 it’s all changed so dramatically. Not only is the athletic complex very different but the campus is maybe more different. That’s as exciting as anything going on.”

Q: Do you see yourself doing this for another 10 or more years?

A: “I don’t know. I go year to year. That’s 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, I’ll do this for a year and we’ll see.’ And I really haven’t 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, I’m 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 I’ve kind of always said if there’s something else out there that is really appealing and I thought I’d be good at it, I’d 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 I’m 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 don’t know. People always use that word, CEO. For some reason as a football coach I don’t like that term, but it’s definitely different than it was when I started and it’s 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 that’s just my anal nature. I should let everybody else do that. But I do think it matters. I don’t want some sign up there that has something on it that it’s like, ‘That’s not what we talk about.’ I want the words that we’re saying to these kids on there. I think all that matters in terms of how we’re going to indoctrinate them into what we’re all about and our culture.”

Q: Southwick called you Mr. Consistency. Is that something you strive for?

A: “I definitely want to be consistent. That’s one of the things I want our kids to be, is consistent. Now, I don’t think of myself as exactly the same. Maybe it’s good that they feel like that. I really think it’s important to evolve because our environment changes and I think it’s 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: “It’s hard to put into words, but I have just more experience with certain situations. The thing about this job is there’s always a new thing thrown at you. You’re going, ‘I have not seen this.’ Now you’ve seen a lot of things and we handled it this way last time and it was good or it wasn’t as good. ... It’s always about continuous improvement. That’s what I want all of our kids to think about. That’s what I want all of our coaches to think about. That’s 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: “That’s 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 don’t have as much control over. There’s going to be certain things in all of our lives that just happen and then you’ve got to answer and deal accordingly. As a coach, we’re always trying to manipulate things in our favor. But there are going to be things that don’t go in your favor.”

Q: How do you deal with the stress?

A: “I exercise and I think it’s important to get proper rest. Those things are really, really important. And I think it’s important to have fun with your staff and have fun with the kids, even though at times you don’t 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 that’s really important — it’s 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, we’ve been lucky.”

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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