Hello Idaho by Robert Ehlert: For Coach Pete's sake, Seattle, we're gonna miss him

December 7, 2013 

Dear Seattle and the rest of you lucky Huskies at U-Dub:

You may think you just hired a football coach, but you're getting a whole package under your umbrellas.

We here in Boise just thought you should know that Coach Pete's contributions to the community go well beyond the sidelines and goalposts and figure into the fabric of our finely tailored life.

Yeah, sure, you've stolen our beloved Coach Pete, the guy who ran off a 13-0 season in 2006 culminating with a defeat of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl - can you say Statue of Liberty? - but around here he is a solid, unassuming pillar of the community.

Said one fan: "I always thought the Coach Pete era would end with a statue outside Bronco Stadium."

Though Coach Pete doesn't dabble much in politics, he's been president and CEO of Bronco Nation, leading his team and fans to bowls in distraction-filled places like Glendale and Las Vegas.

But Coach Pete doesn't get in trouble riding motorcycles with wild women strapped to the back like some (former) football coaches do. Instead, Coach Pete makes milk commercials.

Seriously, Seattle, you have no idea what you have taken from us, or what you have just received.

Coach Pete preaches and practices excellence everywhere he goes. He works with athletes, with a mind to prepare them for life by nurturing their entire humanity.

Coach Pete's 1, 2, 3's:

• Building self-esteem on and off field and with people he encounters in his life.

• Considering how he can add value to his team member's lives and the people he meets.

• Teaching players and fans how to enjoy the process, whether that involves triumphs or struggles. Watching him on the sidelines, listening to him after the games, you can't tell if his Broncos are undefeated or 8-4.

A fan who appreciates Coach Pete's style: "Congrats, Coach Pete. Sorry to see Boise area lose a leader, but it's an opportunity for two more to spring up in his place."

Coach Pete did for Boise State what Starbucks did for coffee. You get the picture, Seattle? Were it not for the fact that one of your coffee competitors is already named Peet's, I'd bet there soon would be a new brew called "Coach Pete."

It's just a matter of time before Seattle sushi spots offer Coach Pete's Purple Wasabi Roll with a side of End Run Eel.

All of you U-Dub students, alumni and faculty better get used to the idea of purple haze on your gridiron, because we think Coach Pete has an aversion to green grass or turf.

A fan who was raised up right: "Thank you, Coach Pete, for an amazing 13 years! You will be missed on the Blue but I wish you nothing but success at Washington!"

Is this beginning to sink in, Seattle?

Every April, our football coach tore himself away from spring practice to host and sponsor the "Beat Coach Pete, Support Scholarship Run and Walk. " The idea: beat the head football coach to the finish line while benefiting student scholarships.

Maybe your old coach, Sark, made you tear up at times for something unfortunate that happened on the field, Seattle.

But Coach Pete was known to be a caring soul willing to reach out when his community called.

Boone Bartlome, a Kuna High School wide receiver, broke his neck during a state quarterfinal game last month. The young man was paralyzed after the incident.

Coach Pete came to visit a few days later along with Boone's high school coach, Lee Leslie. Nobody is suggesting a correlation here, but Boone had some movement in his upper body that day that brought optimism about his recovery, which continues now in Colorado.

"Coach Pete and I just stood there not making a noise," Leslie said. "We were like, 'OK, atta kid, Boone.' "

Coach Pete Fan: "Coach Pete is an amazing person and coach with an amazing family! I think all Boise State fans can wish him well with the Huskies!"

Robert Ehlert is the Statesman's editorial page editor. Contact him at 377-6437, or on Twitter @IDS_HelloIdaho.

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