Boise State Football: 21 Reasons Chris Petersen Is the Best Coach in CFB
Did you hear that noise?
If you listen closely, you can hear it bouncing off the walls of an office somewhere off Broadway Avenue and University Drive in Boise, Idaho.
It is echoing through the trees growing high off the green belt around the campus of Boise State University. The sound can be heard moving up the hill to the bench and being deflected off the old Boise Depot.
It is a familiar noise to Bronco fans and one that is clearly distinguished.
It is, of course, the sound of head coach Chris Petersen rolling his eyes—or, it would be if he ever reads this headline.
One of the things that makes Petersen such an impressive coach and individual is his ability to be humble in the face of accolades, awards, hype and praise. He has an uncanny ability to remain grounded when the program around him seems to climb higher and higher.
It is, of course, just one of the things that makes this guy so special and so appreciated by so many.
On that note, let's look at many of the other reasons why Petersen is so well-liked and cherished around Bronco Nation and the reasons why many consider him the best coach around.
As a way to keep the list to a somewhat reasonable number, we have selected those traits, abilities or assets only ending with the letters "tion."
Roll your eyes, Chris Petersen, because here are 21 of the biggest reasons you are considered the best coach in college football today.
Chis Petersen is a dedicated individual. He is dedicated to his family, his friends, his assistant coaches, his players, his employer, his fans and his cause.
It is this same dedication that has led him to stay at Boise State in the face of attractive offers from other schools looking to poach him from "The Blue."
It is that same dedication that keeps him focused and steadfast on the vision he has to make the Bronco football program into something very special.
This guy works as hard or harder than anyone in the college football world. He is not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and getting to work.
Petersen is also good at getting the best effort out of other around him by setting the bar so high. Of course, he knows how to balance it all, but no one outworks Petersen.
He is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure his programs succeeds, and if that means a lot of hard work, then Petersen will be the first to sign up.
Motivation is one of the biggest strengths Petersen has, and after seeing the results, it should be no surprise that he has a master's degree in educational psychology.
Petersen seems to take a practical approach, however, when it comes to motivation. He gets his team motivated year after year with the same kind of excellent results. It is the opposite of insanity, but it is insane that he continues to have such a high level of success.
Motivational skills can be taught,—and learned, for that matter—but those who seem to have a real gift for it can only attribute their success to a God-given ability.
Petersen is one of those such gifted motivators.
Dictionary.com has as one of its definitions for the word "recognition" as "the perception of something as existing or true; realization."
Chris Petersen is a master at perceiving greatness in the heart of others. He sees something in recruits that many coaches overlook or undervalue.
Of course, Petersen would tell you that his assistant coaches deserve most of the credit. However, Petersen chose them as well, and that only goes to show you his ability to see greatness in his coaches as well as his players.The number of 2-star or no-star recruits who have come to play for Petersen and have headed for the NFL is growing every year.
It is that ability to recognize greatness in others that has made Petersen great at what he does.
Not only does Chris Petersen recognize great talent but he then develops it.
The program he has created at Boise State takes a young man whom many have overlooked and slowly but surely turns him into a great football player and person.
Petersen has the ability to elevate those around him. His players, his coaches and even the school and fans—everyone benefits from the drive Petersen has to make those around him better.
When Doug Martin and Kellen Moore came to Boise State, neither one of them probably thought they would have the success they did. However, Petersen probably believed it.
When you hear the word "ambition," you might think of it as something selfish.
However, not in Petersen's case.
The ambition Coach Pete has is certainly personal, but it doesn't stop there. Of course, he loves to be challenged and wants to succeed. But, from listening to him speak over the years, he always includes others in those goals to prosper.
Petersen loves to be challenged, but it appears he loves to challenge others as well. He doesn't appear satisfied to stand up there on that podium and receive a trophy by himself. In fact, he looks very uncomfortable doing so.
Petersen doesn't leave anyone behind who is willing to become better.
Some head coaches take the "dictator" approach. Some head coaches take the "friend" approach.
Still, some head coaches take the "this is my world, and if you don't like it, get out" approach.
Chris Petersen has taken a different approach. From watching him over the years it has become obvious that Petersen is in his element. However, he isn't so firmly attached to methods and strategies as to shut his door to new and innovative ideas.
Some coaches get set in their ways, but not Petersen. Part of that is out of necessity, but part of it is his own personality of always desiring to better himself and others.
Coach Petersen seems to invite ideas and new methods from his coaching staff and his players. It is that environment of cooperation that has made Boise State an excellent place to play and coach.
One of the greatest assets Chris Petersen has is his ability to relate to those around him, and he does so on a level that meets a person wherever they are.
The players can relate to him because he was once a player. And, much like many of them, Petersen was undersized and undervalued as a college athlete.
But, also much like them, he didn't let it stop him.
Petersen also seems to have good personal relationships and family relationships. His wife is a great support for him and no doubt is his biggest fan—and his biggest reality check.
Coach Pete also has a great relationship with local media, boosters and fans. Even if he doesn't share every detail about his team, he does give the time to those who ask.
Overall, it is that ability to relate to those around him that helps Petersen when he looks for a new assistant coach, recruits a player, is being interviewed about the same thing multiple times or is just being asked to be home for dinner—on time.
Watching coach Petersen's press conferences makes you feel like you are listening to an old friend. He seems so comfortable, and it never seems guarded or disingenuous.
Petersen is a great speaker, and even when he is put on the spot he knows how to handle it. And the great thing about that is he never comes off as a salesman.
There are many in the coaching world who could take a lesson from Petersen on this one.
Coach Petersen is a master amalgamater. Okay, that might not be a word, but amalgamation is; to amalgamate means to merge, blend, unite or combine different things together.
Coach Pete knows how to do this well. He takes guys from all over the country and blends them together in such a way that it creates a family atmosphere in a very short amount of time.
The way he brings his team together is a huge contributing factor to the success the Broncos have had in the Petersen era.
So, how does he do it? No one is really sure, but it seems to come naturally to Petersen.
Henry Hartman once said, "Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity."
Chris Petersen has taken these words to heart.
Coach Pete is big on preparation. Everything he does is preparation for something. He is not into wasting time, energy or effort on things that distract or detract from the goals of the team.
He himself takes painstaking time to prepare for any element of his program. Opposing coaches know that if you give Chris Petersen time to prepare, he is going to take full advantage.
Just ask Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia players and coaches what happens when he has the time to figure things out.
That's why Michigan State won't be the game some are claiming. Many have written the Broncos off before the opening kickoff. However, if the past is any indication, Coach Petersen will have his team prepared.
Anticipation has been a key strength when it comes to Boise State teams under Coach Petersen.
The defense is always well-prepared and seems to have a grasp in any game as to what the opposing offense will bring. The offense, in the same way, is great at being one step ahead of their opponents.
Petersen has an uncanny ability to read the tendencies of opposing teams and counter before a counter is needed.
Trickeration may not be an "official" word, but it should be. After all, it is heavy in the Bronco vocabulary.
They call the Boise State versus Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl one of the greatest games of all time. In that game, Chris Petersen showed the world that he was not afraid to reach deep into his bag-o-tricks to take victory from an opponent.
The same thing was done again in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl against TCU when a fake punt called "Riddler" gave the Broncos a much-needed first down that resulted in the game-winning touchdown drive.
Petersen has since used the tricks sparingly (or perhaps because they weren't needed), but those plays haunt every opponent.
Even if Boise State doesn't use so-called "trick plays," the thought that they could dictates how opposing coaches plan for the Broncos. During the game teams are always on guard so as not to be fooled by Petersen and his playbook of mischief.
The Broncos were the winningest team in college football during the first decade of the 2000s.
Chris Petersen was head coach for the last four seasons of that run.
For the decade, Boise State was 112-17, with a winning percentage of .868.
However, in the time Petersen was head coach, the Broncos were an amazing 49-4.
The Broncos have continued their success under Petersen into the new decade. In 2010, Boise State went 12-1 and duplicated that in 2011. Of course, both losses came on the painful last play of regulation when BSU went wide right in both contests.
However, even those painful losses can't take away from the dominance of BSU under Petersen's leadership. He has now amassed a gaudy 73-6 overall record and shows no signs of slowing down.
This kind of dominance is no fluke, and you can criticize the competition all you want, but there are plenty of schools out there that play similar schedules and have not even come close to doing what the Broncos have done under Petersen.
The word "capitalization" sums up much of what Coach Petersen has accomplished at Boise State. Not only did he have success on the field but he has made the most of it.
Many coaches would be happy with the winning alone, but not Petersen. He has taken upon his shoulders the task to capitalize on every situation in order to make Boise State better as a whole.
Several WAC titles and a couple Fiesta Bowls later, and Boise State has had its share of opportunities.
And what did the Broncos do with the opportunities?
They have elevated the conference they play in—going on twice. They have added a new press box and luxury suites, a huge increase in enrollment, an underway stadium expansion and facilities for other sports programs and the list goes on and on.
To say they have made the most of it is a colossal understatement.
Petersen is, of course, not alone in this capitalization. But it has been his successes as a coach and as a leader that have put BSU in a position to make the most of the success on the field so as to benefit the school, the city and the state.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an action and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny."
Chris Petersen is a living example of this quote. He has sown into the Boise State football program and beyond the thought that it can all be better.
It can be taken to new heights—these are the aspirations of Coach Pete.
He has backed it all up with his actions, not just his words. So much so that his aspirations to make Boise State better have been caught like an infectious disease all around the city of Boise, the state of Idaho and beyond.
Petersen's actions have become a habitual reminder of the climb to greatness that BSU is experiencing and that individuals desire. Petersen's character has only increased in luster, and the road he, the program, the school, the city, the state and the fans are on is incredible and unimaginable.
Overstating it a bit? To know where you are, you only have to look at where you have been.
In 1996, the Broncos were members of the Big West Conference and entering their first year of Division I-A football.
Is there another program with such a history?
The expectations of a head coach can vary greatly.
In Petersen's case, they are high and, some would say, lofty.
However, every year it seems Petersen raises his team to new levels, and he is not about to lower his expectations.
Players who have the privilege of playing for Petersen know that he is not going to accept second-best; his expectations for those around him are always top notch.
Those kinds of expectations go to the fans and boosters as well. Petersen is not shy about encouraging the progress needed at Boise State if the program wants to continue its rise.
Speaking of those fans and boosters...
Petersen has been amazing at rallying all those who love Bronco football and the school to advance forward rather than rest on past success.
His method of mobilization has been excellent. He has encouraged fans, alumni, the administration and political forces to come together to make Boise State football a national force.
The latest example is the stadium expansion project. This would have never happened without the success and presence of Petersen and his ability to move and mobilize those involved.
It may be simply by his subtle words or his bold success on the field, but either way, he gets it to happen.
Chris Petersen takes education seriously, even though the Broncos get knocked from time to time for their academics as an institution.
However, that is changing with the policies and vision that Boise State president Bob Kustra has put into place. Over time, if BSU continues to follow that vision, the Broncos will be on par with major universities in the west.
Chris Petersen has already implemented that vision nicely among his team. In fact, last season, the Bronco football program was awarded a few different academic honors.
First, the Boise State football program shared the American Football Coaches Association Academic Achievement Award with Miami University. This is an annual award given by the Touchdown Club of Memphis.
In early 2011, BSU also was honored by the NCAA for a top 10 percent ranking in the FBS for the academic progress rate.
And it didn't stop there.
For the second year in a row, the Broncos football program was recognized as the No. 2-ranked team in the annual academic BCS standings. Penn State outranked the Broncos in 2011, and Stanford outdid them in 2010.
Petersen has elevated the play on the field and the performance in the classroom.
Chris Petersen undoubtedly is a fine administrator, but it is the administration at Boise State that is one of his biggest assets.
From the president down to the people who file the paperwork, you know Petersen is happy to have such a supporting cast. He is an excellent coach, but he would probably be the first to tell you that what he does couldn't be done without the administration's support.
Boise State is a class act through and through, and Petersen has to be thankful for that. Every person who has a hand in the day-to-day operations at Boise State deserves some credit for the overall success.
Chris Petersen is just a man, and he would be the first to tell you that. He is not a god to be worshiped or even a demigod who needs to be feared.
He is just a man who loves what he does and is good at doing it. He also would be quick to tell you that he couldn't do it without all of Bronco Nation.
Who is Bronco Nation?
It is those same school administrators previously mentioned, starting with President Kustra. It is every one of Petersen's assistant coaches, the trainers, equipment managers, video staff and all of those unseen and yet vital-to-the-operation staff members who bleed blue with the best of them.
Bronco Nation consists of every kid dreaming of playing on "The Blue" one day and every underdog who looks to the Broncos for inspiration.
It is the little old lady with the Bronco bumper sticker and the young family who scraped together just enough cash for tickets in the end zone.
Bronco Nation is every student, every booster and every alumni that has ever cheered on a Bronco win or felt the heartache of a "wide right" loss.
Bronco Nation is a special place full of characters, comedians, cheerleaders, a dance team and even a few blue Elvises. It is a dog named Zee, a mascot named Buster, a top notch band that seems to never run out of music, and a beautiful Bronco girl who sure can ride a horse.
It is a group of fans who actually are capable of color coordination and screaming extremely loud. It is a city electric with blue and orange energy. It is a state with pride, dignity, old-fashioned values and cutting-edge technologies.
Bronco Nation is every fan who has prayed, yelled, cried or cussed during a Boise State game. It is every past, present and future Bronco faithful and every bowl traveler who lost their voice along the way. It is also all those Boise State fans scattered across the landscape of this nation and around the world united in their love and admiration for the Broncos.
It is a place of passion, vision, people and a program that has yet to reach its potential. It is a place where the future is bright, and the field is blue.
Chris Petersen may very well be the best coach in all of college football, but he wouldn't be that without the rest of Bronco Nation.
But again, he would be the first to admit that.