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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


A coach’s son takes over at Idaho

Paul Petrino is from a coaching family. He remembers breaking down game film with his father as a boy. And he and his brother, Bobby, would watch tape for eight hours at a time in the offseason while together at Arkansas. Yes, Petrino is a coach's son, and now he has another title he's always wanted: head coach. 

Petrino was introduced Monday as the new face of the Idaho football program. He had lots to say, and we've got lots of details to pass along below. You can also find an early version of our story for the paper.


You can watch Petrino's news conference here, courtesy of KXLY. You can also read all my tweets through the day here.

Let's start with the newsiest items:

  • Petrino agreed to a three-year contract that will pay him $390,000 per year and includes two potential extension years based on paid home-game attendance goals. Petrino's base salary is $175,000 and his contract calls for $215,000 in media payments. If he leaves before the end of 2013, his buyout is $500,000; it dips to $250,000 if he leaves before 2014. The contract must be approved by the Idaho State of Board of Education, which meets today at 2 p.m. PST in Boise.
  • If Idaho joins a conference, Petrino's contract has a clause that calls for he and Rob Spear to "meet and confer" within 60 days to evaluate Petrino's salary "as compared to other head football coaching contracts in the conference and discuss possible amendments." That could mean increasing or lowering the coach's salary, depending where Idaho lands.
  • I asked Spear afterward how often the conference uncertainty was brought up in conversations with Petrino and other coaches. Here's what he said: "I don’t think it was a driving force. More importantly, I think they were looking for an opportunity to come here, and an opportunity to be a football coach. I think that outweighed any conference uncertainty.We’re confident at the end of the day we’ll find a spot." Asked about staying at the FBS level, which Petrino said he wanted, Spear said, "We were up front from the get-go that this is our goal. We’re going to continue down that path, and we’re going to exhaust all opportunities. We were confident that movement would begin, which it has. But it’s important at the end of the day that we find a conference home."
  • Spear told me the salary pool for Petrino's staffer will be consistent with what Robb Akey's staff made.
  • Petrino was on the UI campus Wednesday for his interview, Spear said. President Duane Nellis said the deal was all but done by Saturday evening. As I reported Sunday, interim coach Jason Gesser did not get a second interview as was planned.

Now on to some additional quotes that didn't make it in my story. Only two players were made available to the media -- defensive end Maxx Forde and left tackle Cody Elenz. I also talked over the phone with John L. Smith.

Maxx Forde

On finally having a permanent coach: "It’s nice. With school we’re getting ready for finals. It’s nice to have that question off the table."

On his initial thoughts of Petrino: "It seems like he has a lot of passion, so that’s a good thing. I know that his offense put up a lot of big numbers. I’m excited about what he can do when has control of the whole team. I think it will be good things."

On what disciple/high-character players can do for UI: "Whenever you’ve got a high-character team, guys are going to come to work hard. One day at a time to do what they can to get better. I think that will definitely help our team."

John L. Smith

On Petrino taking the job: "It has been something he’s wanted for a long time. He’s been looking forward to.This is awesome. Number 1, Idaho ... I think that’s my institution. Being that was my first head coaching job, etc. and I’ve got a fondness in my heart for Idaho., I’m just thrilled that he was able to get that job and take that job for his first job as well. He’s a guy I love, admire and respect, and he’s been with my it feels like forever … I’m tickled, I’m proud  and I’m excited about taking that job. I’ll tell you what, you talk about attitude for the boosters, for the kids that are there — he’s got a passion for the game, a great attitude for the game. He’s a disciplinarian. He’ll bring in discipline and toughness for those guys that play for him. I’m thrilled for him and thrilled for the university."

On how Petrino has changed since he was first an assistant at Idaho: "Like all of us, he’s matured. He’s always had the great passion, excitement, that energy — extreme energy for the game and a great work ethic that he’s gained growing up in a football family."

On what Petrino brings to UI: "I don’t know if you can find a better, more knowledgeable coach offensively. He definitely needed a chance to become a head coach, and this is his opportunity to do that. He’s going to love those kids. He’s going to push those kids. He’s going to give those kids the same tough love that he had growing up. And they will develop that work ethic, that discipline that he has. So I think you’re getting a steal."

Paul Petrino

Opening statement: "It’s something I’ve worked for since I was a little kid. I’ve dreamed about (it). That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do is be a head coach. That’s what I’ve trained for. A lot of parents take their kids hunting and fishing. Our dad would take us up to the office and first teach us how to play the game, and then teach us how to coach the game. We’d break down tape. We’d learned how to attack (an offense or defense). ... I can give you my word that I will give you every last bit of energy, every last bit of anything I’ll have in my body to make sure that the Vandal family is back at the top."

On his passions in life: "Really I have three passions in this world. My first passion is being a great husband. I work on that every day and try to get better at it every day. My second passion is to be a great father, and that’s something you can always get better at everyday. That’s why because of the hours we work, I bring him. They’ll be here all the time. And my third passion is to be the best football coach in the country."

On recruiting regionally: "I think the Northwest is where you’ve got to make a living. ... I think our base and foundation has to be a Northwest."

Oher notes from Petrino:

  • The three mentors he listed where his father, his brother and John L. Smith. He said he considers Bobby as "still the most brilliant coach in football. His offensive mind is far above anyone else. Hopefully mine is getting close to that, but he taught me so much about football, paying attention to every last detail, making sure that everything you do, making sure that every last detail is what makes it important. We always believed as coaches we were going to coach those details better than anyone else, so then our players were going to perfect those details."
  • Petrino mentioned a slew of coaches and players, including Ron Zook (who taught him a lot about recruiting) and former Idaho coaches Nick Holt and Scott Linehan.
  • As for the potential need to improve Idaho's facilities, Petrino said, "Well, I think the first thing youv'e got to do is win a few more games. You do that and you get the interest and everybody back. I've got to do a great job of getting out into the community and getting out with the boosters and getting everybody excited. I think once you do that, then it's easy to pull that in and we can get that stuff approved."
  • Petrino said he has turned down other head-coaching offers and went after a few that he didn't get. After moving his family from one location to the next, he said his eldest children, twins currently in their freshmen year, will graduate from Moscow High. "It was all about a fit. Our goal was to become head coaches by the time our kids were in high school."
  • Petrino said he and his wife Maya want to be "a huge part" of the Moscow community.
  • Petrino's goal is to restart the Idaho summer football camp.

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