Chris Petersen on Washington job: ‘It was just time’

By Chadd Cripe
ccripe@idahostatesman.com
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Former Boise State football coach Chris Petersen was introduced to the Seattle media Monday — his first comments since he took the Washington job Friday. Here are some highlights:

— Petersen began with a series of thank-yous, including one to Boise. “I’d like to thank the people in Boise so much. That place means so much to me and our president there, Bob Kustra, has transformed that university … the fans, the Bronco Nation over there, and all the players. That place is truly special. I don’t want to go on too much more than that or I probably wouldn’t get through this press conference. I appreciate those people so much.” (He became emotional during this.)

— “People keep asking me, ‘Why now? You’ve been at Boise so long.’ Two things keep coming to mind, timing and fit. It was just time. Every place kind of has a shelf-life — sometimes very short, sometimes very long, and sometimes in between. It was just time. We’ve done some really good things there. For me to take the next step as a coach, as a teacher and as a person, to grow, I needed to take that next step out of that comfort zone over there. And I think it will be good for Boise as well. Fit is so important. I’m a Northwest guy. I’ve known this place forever.”

— “I’m excited about this opportunity, this challenge. We’re going to play smart, fast, physical .. football, there’s no doubt about it. We’re going to recruit awesome kids here. … There’s such a misperception out there about what a real man is. That’s a passion of mine, getting guys straight on what a real man is. We talk about recruiting OKGs — ‘Our Kinda Guys’ — great character kids, awesome football players who are interested in a world-class degree. … One of the things we’ve done so well at Boise is all these things I’m talking about, we don’t just talk about them, we be about them. Our players have bought into these concepts, bought into the culture and made it special. I can’t wait to start implementing some of those things here.”

— “I cannot wait to win a game in this stadium — with a little help.”

— Why Washington? “I go back to just the timing of things, of feeling like I needed to take a step out of Boise to really grow and improve. This job, wherever you are, is so tremendously challenging. It’s not about that. I was very comfortable over there. It was very easy to be over there. Really, at the end of the day, I didn’t think it would be best for me to be over there in terms of being the person and coach I want to be. It’s a win-win. They’ll get a fabulous coach in there who will give them a new shot of energy. I felt very good about that. I didn’t want to leave Boise if I thought it would be bad for them.”

— Had he reached a ceiling at Boise State? “Not necessarily. … Sometimes it’s hard to justify or rationalize. It was just a feeling that it was time. It was time for that next step and that next challenge and new horizons.”

— On Husky Stadium: “That’s one of the reasons I’m here. … There’s not a better one in college football — and then you pack it with these passionate people in purple, holy smokes. I was really, really irritated (at this year’s season opener), to tell you the truth, but deep down I really liked it because that’s what college football should be all about. … This is college football at its finest.”

— On the Huskies: “Very talented. Well coached. Coach (Steve Sarkisian) and his crew have done a great job of building this thing back up. That’s hard, tough work. I get that as much as anybody.”

— He said his staff would shake out over the next week or so. “We have a plan lined up, but it’s not set in stone.”

— On the bowl games: “I feel bad for both sides (at Washington and Boise State). We’re out of our comfort zones. We talk about adversity and comfort zones — it’s probably more out of your comfort zone than true adversity here.”

— He said the offense likely would be “some version of a spread.”

— On how long he’ll stay: “You know how hard it was for me to leave Boise? I know this — life always changes. I didn’t take this job to go anywhere else. That’s not even something that has entered my mind, ever. This is where I want to be. This is where my family wants to be. So I certainly envision and really hope I can stay here a really long time.”

— “When the whole Washington thing started, I just kind of felt in my heart that if this was going to be right on their side, it would be right on my side. All big decisions — whether you’re an 18-year-old kid being recruited or an old, 49-year-old coach — when you’re making decisions and there are good choices on both sides, it comes down to gut feeling in your heart and your stomach. And I just really feel this is where I needed to be.”

— “At Boise, we did such a good job of really establishing a philosophy that we wanted to live by and it wasn’t just words on paper and our coaches did such a great job of really instilling these things in our young men. It was not just about football. It was about life. That’s probably the thing that we did the best there.”

— Why Washington? “That’s the beauty of it — it wasn’t one thing. It was many things. A bunch of little things added up to this is where I need to be — the university, the conference that we play in, to being in Seattle. All those things that are really big, important things to me and my family. And I couldn’t be prouder to be standing here before you today.”

— “I talk to our players all the time about getting out of your comfort zone, taking challenges, putting yourself at risk a little bit, and growing. The only way you can do that is to take on different things. It’s human nature to not want to get out of our comfort zone, but if we stay there all the time … if you’re not growing, you’re going backward, so here you are.”

— Will he beat Oregon? “We have to start that already? We’ll be swinging hard.”

•••

Petersen’s press conference brought me back to this quote from July, in a Q&A we printed: “But you can also make the case sometimes where, maybe we sheltered our kids too much now by not getting them to different places.”

•••

Washington released details of Petersen’s contract. He’ll make $3.2 million in 2014. His salary increases by $200,000 per year to $4 million in 2018. Here are more contract details.

At Boise State, he was scheduled to make $2.348 million in 2014 with $200,000 annual increases.


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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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