BOISE – Boise State football coach Chris Petersen enters his eighth season as the Broncos’ head coach when fall camp opens Monday.
He’s 84-8, making him the winningest active coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He arrived at Boise State in 2001 as the offensive coordinator and, at 48, has become one of the nation’s most respected coaches.
Petersen met with the media for about 90 minutes last week at Mountain West media days in Las Vegas. Here’s what he had to say about the program, his role and his future:
Question: Boise State has been building pieces of its football program for more than 15 years – and now nearly all of the pieces are in place. How do you feel about the state of the program and its direction?
Answer: “It’s in a good position. Our facilities are top notch, spectacular. And that’s going to help us in recruiting. Sometimes there’s a lag effect on all this stuff. You’ve got to do things for a while and then it all catches up. That’s going to have an effect as we move forward here. Our coaches are great. Our administration, the operations people that we have with our recruiting guys and our (directors of football operations) and our secretaries, I think the infrastructure is finally set in place. So I’m really excited about all that.”
Q: There is so much talk about what the new Bleymaier Football Complex will do for recruiting. Where do you expect to see a difference?
A: “The one thing is we have to do this to keep up, so the sad thing about it is some of the places these (recruits) are going to look at, they’re not going to come to Boise, as spectacular as our situation is, and go, ‘Wow. That is better.’ That’s just going to keep us in the game with some of these other people. And that’s what we want to make sure of. ‘I’m going to go to this school because the facilities are so much better.’
“Well, now they can’t say that. It keeps us on a level playing field. And we are going to have better facilities than a bunch of people. … This is the thing that we can never lose sight of – we’ve gotten so many good players here by just selecting the right kids before we had (these facilities). Hopefully that helps us, but it still is going to come down to us.”
Q: Five or 10 years from now, what do you see as the next wave of big changes to Boise State football?
A: “The next step is obviously going to be – we have one of the smaller stadiums, so if we build bigger will the people come and fill it up? Because we can’t build until we know that. That’s what I think can be the next game-changer. You can add 10,000, 15,000 seats. We don’t want to do that unless it’s going to be filled.”
Q: How serious are discussions to expand the stadium?
A: “We can’t show up to any of our games, no matter who we play, and not have the place packed. As soon as you go to an end-of-the-season game against Colorado State or whatever – I know it was Thanksgiving (weekend) – and you see empty seats, they’re not going to expand the stadium. The demand needs to be there. The nice thing is the way they built the new (Bleymaier Football Center) facility, the concourse is in there. They had enough vision to go ‘OK, down the road, whenever that is, it’s set up to add onto.’ “
Q: Do you see yourself doing this for another 10 or more years?
A: “I don’t know. I go year to year. I go through the year and kind of evaluate the situation. I did that the first year I became the head coach. I said, ‘OK, I’ll do this for a year and we’ll see.’ And I really haven’t changed that thinking.”
Q: Other than the football coaching aspect, what do you enjoy about being a head coach?
A: “I really like being with our staff. I like being with our players. I like being able to try to put the structure together of the organization, to tweak it and fix it. I enjoy hiring good people and getting them involved. There are a lot of things I do like about it.”
Q: How much time do you spend on football and how much on discipline, life skills and other aspects of running a program?
A: “The majority of my time is certainly spent on running the program. Football for me is a big bonus. And I definitely carve out time so I can make sure I’m in there because that is the part I do enjoy.”
Q: How do you deal with the stress?
A: “I exercise and I think it’s important to get proper rest. Those things are really, really important. And I think it’s important to have fun with your staff and have fun with the kids, even though at times you don’t feel like that. It is important to always keep that enjoyment factor. There are a couple coaching objectives that we really latch onto and one of them is enjoying the process.”
Q: What are the other two coaching objectives?
A: “Building self-esteem and adding value to their lives.”