Brian Murphy: It's not easy playing for Coach Pete ... or is it?

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comAugust 31, 2013 

The rules, it seems, are simple for players in the Boise State football program. They are basic tenets for being a Bronco - and remaining one - under head coach Chris Petersen.

Be early.

Make good decisions.

Finish everything.

"He tells us right when we come in the door. This is how it's going to be. These are my rules. If you don't want to live by these rules, you can leave. He tells you that," senior left tackle Charles Leno Jr. said. "And if you don't live by those rules, he tells you to leave."

As Petersen begins his eighth season as the head coach, he finds himself spending more time talking about doing the right things off the field. It is not how he prefers to spend his hours.

"We have some simple rules, and if you really just followed those, it'd be easy," Petersen said. "But it's easier said than done."

Five Broncos who would have been on the team this fall have either been dismissed from the program or suspended from school in the last year, including starting defensive end Sam Ukwuachu and safety Lee Hightower.

Many others have been suspended for single games, including defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, who missed the 28-26 win over Washington in December's MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

"You try to be fair. But you're trying to be fair to the team, our program, the community," Petersen said. "I spend more of my time talking about these things than I ever have as a coach. If we're going to spend more time and you're not going to hear these things, OK."

Discipline decisions are among the most scrutinized by fans and media. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer drew criticism this summer for his approach to player discipline.

Much of the attention in the lead-up to Saturday's opener at Washington has focused on potential discipline for Huskies' tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge, spent a night in jail and paid a $695 fine. The Seattle Times reported Thursday night that Seferian-Jenkins has been suspended for the opener, though the school has not updated the tight end's status.

Washington wide receiver Kasen Williams received a misdemeanor citation for being under 21 and operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or marijuana. Williams, the team's leading receiver in 2012, is expected to play against Boise State.

Many of the players who have been disciplined by Petersen never appeared in a police blotter. They were not arrested or cited by police.

"I want to make things as black and white for our program as we can. But a lot of times it's not that black and white," Petersen said. "You've got to have your own method, your own structure, your own philosophy on how you're going to do things. It's not easy. It is not an easy process. It's just not black and white, so you've got to make it work for you and your program."

Petersen has certainly made it work. He is 84-8 in eight seasons while consistently pushing his three rules. Being early and finishing everything are not easy. Making good decisions, however, is the toughest of the rules, players say.

"Guys are going to do stuff, and they don't think they're going to get caught," junior linebacker Blake Renaud said. "And Coach Pete always says people are going to find out. It's a small town. It's not hard. People know who you are."

Said Leno: "Making good decisions, that's every day. We might be at a party on Saturday, and you have to make a good decision."

It is that constant process of making good decisions that has tripped up some players.

"It's about making a good choice after a good choice. They'll make some good choices in their mind and then a bad choice," Petersen said. "And one bad choice can cost you. We won't change. We always tell these guys we're not changing."

Said Leno: "Simple three rules he wants us to do and some people just haven't figured it out."

Petersen said earlier this week that he did not expect any of his players to miss the game for disciplinary reasons.

"I think we're really hard on guys and I think that we don't mess around, but at times our guys will be like, 'Why is he getting that?' Because not every piece of dirty laundry is going to be shared with our whole team," Petersen said.

"It just comes down to what you feel is right to help get this kid straight and what's right for your program. Sometimes it might be more for the program and sometimes it might be more for the kid and that's why it's not black and white.''

Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Twitter: @murphsturph

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