It came as a surprise to everyone when Chris Petersen left Boise State for Washington late last week. Everyone, including Petersen himself.
"Absolutely. Without question," Petersen said on feeling it was time to move on from Boise. "And it caught me by surprise when I became the head coach (at Boise State), because I hadn’t thought much about it at all. In some ways, my hand was forced when Hawk was going, and then I had that opportunity presented to me. My first reaction was, no, I’m not going to go do that.
"Then I started thinking about it and there was some excitement and trepidation and all those things that come with it. But that caught me off guard way back when and certainly when I started thinking about this, that caught me off guard, too, going, OK, maybe this is time. Because that hasn’t happened to me very much."
Petersen sat down with Idaho Statesman beat writer Chadd Cripe for one last Q&A for the city he called home for 13 years on Tuesday.
Petersen said that his departure was not pre-ordained. When asked about the CBSSports.com report from earlier this fall about getting the itch to move on, Petersen responded, "Absolutely not true. Not even kind of true."
But when the Broncos' regular season ended and USC wanted to talk, Petersen felt he needed to oblige. "You’re trying to get through the season and you’re trying to do the best you can so you’re not dwelling on those types of things. And then the opportunity comes up to talk to those guys — I wouldn’t talk to somebody unless I was real serious," Petersen said." That was a situation I felt like I really needed to look at."
Then Washington became a possibility and a "gut feeling" overcame Petersen and, as we stand today, orange and blue were traded in for purple and gold.
For the first time in his career, Petersen is now dealing with the always-sticky situation of leaving behind an old roster and approaching the possibility of Boise State recruits wanting to follow him to Seattle.
That is always a very awkward situation," Petersen said. "We went through it last time with Hawk and we’re going through it now. There’s not an easy way around that. Most of these kids are so connected to me and some of the coaches who will come, that it’s hard. Yeah, they like the universities, but they get connected to the coaches. So a lot of times they want to follow you or they at least want to look at it. We’ll try to operate with as much integrity (as possible) in this whole thing. Kids who want to stay there at Boise, that’s great, that’s a great place. And everybody knows we view it like that. The other kids who are contacting us, it’s hard to say, no, we’re not going to talk to you, when we’ve been talking to these guys for over a year. It will be a tough recruiting year."
In the end, though, both programs will be better off for the change, Petersen believes.
"They’re going to be playing for another really good staff and they’ll get a great head coach in there and this is an unsettling time and nobody really wants to hear it now, but trust me, in six to eight months, everybody will be better off for it," Petersen said of his now-former Boise State players.
So why will he be better off? His predecessors, Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins, didn't bring their Boise success with them. What's different about Petersen?
"They didn't come to Washington."