Boise State football: Players praise Petersen on eve of 100th game

By Brian Murphy
bmurphy@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen will coach his 100th game as the Broncos’ head coach on Friday at BYU (6 p.m., ESPN). He is 89-10 in his first 99 games.

I talked with players, coaches and administrators in the Boise State program to get a sense of what makes Petersen so effective.

Petersen discussed his 100th game, what he’s learned and how he tries to do his job in this video (20:36 mark)

Here’s what they had to say:

Boise State Athletic Director Mark Coyle

• On working with Petersen: “In almost two years since I’ve been here with Chris, what makes Chris so good at what he does is he’s always prepared. He knows who he is. He’s grounded and humble and works hard. It’s old-fashioned values — hard work, commitment to excellence.”

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “Chris is such a great representative of college football and why it’s so good. He’s so conscientious of decisions he makes and the big picture and how those little decisions matter (in the big picture). … It’s his attention to detail and his commitment to having his teams prepared so they play at a high level.”

• On Petersen’s greatest strengths: “He’s very consistent. You know who Chris is. He’s very consistent with how he acts with administrators, officials on our staff, players. … He set the bar high here and he has his kids set to achieve. He’s so attentive to all the details and all the little things.”

Boise State President Bob Kustra

• On hiring Petersen in 2006: “We knew as offensive coordinator that Chris was the guy for the job.”

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “He is one of the more organized people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, the way he structures and disciplines himself and his team, sets their objectives and goes about fulfilling them. He’s a great role model for how to handle success. When people become successful, sometimes they slack off, get used to it, cut corners. With Chris you get the same consistency to his plan, the same consistency to the operations that make that program so successful. … He understands it’s all about consistency.”

• On how Petersen has handled success: “I think he’s probably a role model for how to handle success that anyone could emulate. No matter how much praise is thrown his way, he handles it with humility and he passes on the credit to those with whom he works and the players. That sends a huge, huge message to fans and all the people he works with. He’s not doing this for Chris Petersen. It’s not about Chris. It never has been. It’s always about the program, always about the team. It’s about the university. He knows and understands the significant role that he plays in promoting the university, not just the football team, but the entire brand of the university to the national stage. He’s done that with humility. He’s always there sharing the credit, passing along to those whom he works and acknowledging the critical role they play.”

• On football’s role at the university: “I think Chris understands. He has, in a sense, created a conversation starter for us when we recruit faculty, staff and students. We’re recruiting students for example due, in no small part, to the buzz that’s been created about Boise State. There’s still some work to be done, still have growth in front of us. We’re going to need additional funding to do the things we’re capable of doing. I like the way he sees himself as part of the larger university. His continued success will also guarantee the continued success of the university as it grows.”

• On Petersen’s role in building the university: “He’s always talking about all the progress we’ve made. He’s clearly able to take his recruits around the campus and show facilities that are first-rate. … Chris is clearly aware of the fact that this is a journey, not a destination. We have every reason to believe we’re going to get there. It takes time. It takes investment of resources. He has been remarkable in the way he has attracted people to this university.”

• On keeping Petersen at Boise State: “We talked Friday. I let him know once again that our concern is always one of making sure he’s comfortable and we’re doing everything we can to keep him in place. I have enormous respect for what Chris has done. We’ll do everything we can, but ultimately it will be Chris who decides if he makes Boise State his final destination or takes up one of these many offers. We have such a great relationship with him. I know candor will be part of it. To date, I know he’s very pleased about the new football complex.”

Boise State running back Jay Ajayi

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “Just how he’s able to produce every year. He gets new players each year and he doesn’t get the big hyped recruits, but he always makes sure he coaches them the right way. He looks into us from (a) men standpoint. He teaches us great characteristics. He’s a great all-around coach for sure and he wins. It shows in the stats.”

• On how Petersen gets you ready to play: “He does a great job during the week making sure we keep focused on our opponent. We always want to try and protect the tradition that Boise State has and they have a winning tradition. Each year we want to make sure we try and protect that tradition.”

Boise State offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr.

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “The guy gets us up to play the game as hard as possible. That’s why everybody’s like, ‘How does he do it? How does he do it?’ He gives us that edge to always play on an edge. He just tells us, no matter what the opponent is, what their record is, just go out there and fight as hard as we can.”

• On how Petersen gets his team on edge: “We practice with a good sense of urgency and great preparation and that prepares us for the game.”

• On how Petersen prepares: “That’s what we try to do is be more prepared than the other team. He does a good job during practice and during the week of sustaining our energy right. You can’t be too overhyped for the game that’s coming up. You can’t be below your energy level. You need to be right there at the right time and when game time comes around we perform at a high level.”

Boise State wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “His class, the way he carries himself. Here, it’s not just about football. It’s more about becoming a man and those kinds of things and some of those qualities that we need in ourselves. I feel like that’s what really separates him from other coaches. … On the recruiting trail, I feel like everybody kind of gives you that. But you don’t really notice it until you get here. But I feel like he kept his word through the whole process when I got here.”

Boise State cornerback Bryan Douglas

• On what makes Petersen stand out: “I think he’s a great coach. He’s more close with his players than other coaches. He not only teaches us to be great football players, but great men.”

• On the family atmosphere at Boise State: “One little wrinkle we do (is) you don’t just say ‘Hey, what’s up?’ You’ve got to say each other’s name. You’ve got to know everybody’s name on the team, where they’re from, where they went to high school, all that stuff. Coach Pete really emphasizes knowing your teammate. If we’re walking on campus and you see a teammate you don’t really hang out with off the field, just walk with them to class, just have a 5-minute conversation with them.”

• On Petersen’s gameday demeanor: “Very poised, very focused. He puts everything on us, let’s us get in our zone and let’s us be free on gameday.”

• On a good memory of Petersen: “Actually, Utah State, after we blocked the kick going into halftime, I think that’s most excited I’ve ever seen Coach Pete. Usually we make a big play or something and he’s just stone faced like nothing happened. It was good to see him just wild up.”

Sports columnist Brian Murphy writes about all sports in the Treasure Valley with a concentration on Boise State football and men's basketball. Murph has been with the Statesman since 2005. You can follow him on Twitter @MurphsTurph.

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