Why Chris Petersen Might Leave for USC

Timothy BriceContributor IJanuary 12, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 23:  Head Coach Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos meets Heads Coach Gary Patterson of TCU Horned Frogs after the Horned Frogs 17-16 win over the Broncos during the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium on December 23, 2008 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

It seems a little crazy: Chris Petersen reportedly faces the possibility of leaving a program that he brought to national prominence for a school trying to stay there amid a sea of chaos.  Yet, it remains a very real possibility. 

According to ESPN.com and the Los Angeles Times, USC has targeted, and possibly already contacted, the Boise State head coach about their new found coaching vacancy.  The question remains, would he leave Boise for the maelstrom surrounding USC?

Why he wouldn't is easy.  His Broncos return 23 of 24 starters from a team that went undefeated and should arguably have played for the national championship this year.  They will likely start the season in the top five of the pre-season rankings putting them in charge of their own fortunes for the first time ever. 

Add to that, the conventional wisdom that says USC is both facing possible NCAA sanctions and is a dysfunctional athletic department at the moment. 

The reasons why he might are a little less obvious.  While Petersen is a great coach who has done a great job building up the Boise State program, he is not likely to turn that school into a regular national powerhouse without a move to a major conference. 

USC affords Petersen the chance to not only work at the premier west coast college football program and to have first choice at nearly any elite west coast recruit he might want, but it also gives him the chance to prove he is not a gimmick coach with a gimmick offense.

Boise State under Petersen has been known for the occasional trick play and general offensive slight of hand.  That was just Petersen doing two things.  First, taking advantage of his opponents aggressiveness or lack of attention and second, closing the gap between his opponents' athletes and his.  At USC, that gap would always be in his favor.

While it has been opined lately that Los Angeles is too "Hollywood" a lifestyle for Petersen, the call to take over one of the truly elite programs may be too hard to pass up. 

Being a coach of calm strength and character, he would be a record setting recruiter for the Trojans.  At USC, Petersen would effectively go head to head with Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Mack Brown on any recruit he could possibly want. 

USC could easily be a life long job for Petersen.  While he is good and could be great at Boise State, he could be a legend at USC.  And that, ultimately, is why he might leave.