Before his coaching career, Petersen was a record-setting quarterback at UC Davis, where he was just recently inducted into the Aggie Hall of Fame.
As a senior he was named the NCAC Player of the Year, and finished the season as the top-rated passer in Division II. Petersen still holds the record for career completion percentage in Division II.
After finishing up a stellar career for the Aggies, Petersen went to work as a receivers coach for UC Davis. He followed up that stint with a promotion to quarterbacks coach at Pittsburgh (the Division I Pittsburgh). In his one season there he tutored Alex Van Pelt into Pitt's all-time leading single-season passer, breaking marks set by Dan Marino.
After one season of ground-breaking work, he went to Portland State. He worked with the QBs there as well, and the Vikings advanced to the Division II playoffs in both seasons he was there.
From there, he was on to Oregon, where he joined Mike Belotti's staff and worked primarily with the receiving corps. Coach Pete helped the Ducks become one of the elite passing teams in the country. He held that position from 1995-2000, after which he joined the Broncos staff.
Since coming to Boise, his passing pupils have rewritten the Bronco record books again and again.
In 2006, Jared Zabransky cut his interception numbers from 16 to eight, and finished sixth in passing efficiency. He also led the Broncos to a 13-0 record, a Fiesta Bowl victory over favored Oklahoma, and went down in video game lore as the cover boy of NCAA Football 2008.
In 2007, senior Taylor Tharp, a one-year starter, broke the school record for touchdowns in a single season and finished seventh in the nation in passing efficiency.
In 2008, Petersen made a tough choice and went with redshirt freshman Kellen Moore as his starter. All Moore did was lead the Broncos to a 37-32 victory at Autzen Stadium against No. 12 Oregon in his third career start. As a freshman he set school records for completion percentage and finished 11th in the nation in passing.
The next season, Moore broke all sorts of records. He finished with 39 TDs and only three interceptions, took only five sacks all season, and finished second behind the immortal Tim Tebow in passing efficiency.
This season, Moore took another step, breaking the school mark for completion percentage that he himself set, and tossed 35 more TDs to only six picks. Again, it looks like he's going to finish second in the country to another SEC passer (Cam Newton).
Harbaugh carved out a similar path. He began as an award-winning QB at Michigan, where he went 21-3-1 in his final two seasons at UM.
He played in the NFL from 1987-2001 before taking the reigns of his first coaching job, the quarterbacks coach for the NFL's Oakland Raiders. The Raiders made a trip to the Super Bowl during one of his two years there.
Harbaugh parlayed that NFL experience into the head job at the University of San Diego, where he compiled a 29-6 in three seasons, two of which ended with Harbaugh hoisting the Division I-AA Pioneer Football League championship trophy.
From there, he moved on to Stanford, where he engineered a near-historic turnaround. The year before Harbaugh arrived in Palo Alto, the Cardinal went 1-11, and obviously, got their head coach fired.
In 2007, the year he took over, they went 4-8. The next year they went 5-7, and in 2009 they broke the .500 mark, going 8-5. His "Mona Lisa" happened this year, as the world was introduced to Andrew Luck and the Cardinal went 12-1, won the BCS Orange Bowl, and catapulted both Luck and Harbaugh into the national spotlight.
He's clearly been pretty good at developing a passer, as the future number-one overall draft pick Luck can attest. Harbaugh developed him as a pro passer in a pro system, and both the player and the team reaped the rewards.