Chris Petersen on recruiting conflicts, bowl absence, USC job

By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

I spent about 30 minutes on the phone with former Boise State football coach Chris Petersen today. The full Q&A will appear in Wednesday’s newspaper, but here are a few notes from the interview:

— Petersen said he “wasn’t exactly sure” about the Washington job when he was first contacted through friends (he could not recall the exact timeline). Then he didn’t hear anything for a couple days. His first conversation with the Huskies was that Thursday night meeting in Boise, the night before he accepted the job.

— Petersen interviewed with USC on Dec. 1 in Boise, the day after the regular-season finale against New Mexico. He also spoke to the Trojans briefly a couple weeks earlier. It was a long conversation on Dec. 1 and both sides decided it wasn’t the best fit, he said.

— On not coaching the bowl game: “Being through it before (in 2005), it’s not fair to the players. It’s a total distraction. That helps them win, me not being there.”

— On reports last summer that he told friends he was looking for a change: “Completely and totally false. Not even kind of true.”

— On whether he thought this was the year he was going to leave: “Certainly when I was going to talk to USC, I was extremely serious about that. There’s no question.”

— On what he told recruits about his future: “I never, ever told a recruit I was staying forever, a timeline, or any of that. I was just completely honest — ‘we love Boise, we’ve been here a long time, we plan on being there, there’s not something out there that if it comes open I’m going to plan on doing that.’ I told them the same thing we told them every single year.”

— On whether money, for him personally or the level of support for the program, factored into his decision: “Money for me personally, none. I’ve said this before — head coaches already make ridiculous money. That wasn’t going to change my happiness at all. The support in terms of everything else that supports the program, that’s a positive here.”

— On him seeming energized at Monday’s press conference: “That’s the timing. That’s what I’m talking about. It’s very easy and nice to stay in that comfort zone. Certainly I’m out of it now. That gives a lot of people energy.”

— On whether he’s in a better position to succeed than predecessors Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins: “Absolutely. They didn’t come to Washington.”

— On the assistants: “We’ll let that play out. A lot of it has to do with who gets the job over there.”

— On how he’ll approach Boise State’s committed recruits: “That is always a very awkward situation. We went through it last time with Hawk and we’re going through it now. There’s not an easy way around that. Most of these kids are so connected to me and some of the coaches who will come, that it’s hard. Yeah, they like the university, but they get connected to the coaches. A lot of times they want to follow you or they at least want to look at it. We’ll try to operate with as much integrity (as possible) in this whole thing. If kids want to stay there in Boise, that’s great. … The other kids that are contacting us, it’s hard to say, ‘No, we’re not going to talk to you.’ We’ve been talking to these guys for over a year. It will be a tough recruiting year.”

— On players transferring from Boise State to Washington: “That won’t happen. Those kids need to stay there. They’re at a great place.”

— On whether the Huskies still will open the 2015 season in Boise: “I’ll probably take that week off. I’m not thinking that far ahead — one problem and one issue at a time. … That wouldn’t necessarily be a fun game for me to go play.”

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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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