When he walked away in December of 2019, Chris Petersen said he wasn’t closing the door on coaching again, but also that he actively hoped his next phase in life was away from the football field. “I’m not ready to do nothing. I’ve just got to figure out where all this passion, energy and inspiration goes,” he said then.
Eighteen months later, Petersen sounds farther away from the grind than he did back then.
In an interview with Sirius XM College, Petersen recalled a passage from The Way to Love by Anthony de Mello, given to him by a friend shortly after he stepped away from Washington.
“Here’s a parable of life for you to ponder on. A group of tourists sits on a bus that is passing through gorgeously beautiful country,” he reads. “Lakes, mountains and green fields and rivers, but the shades of the bus are pulled down. They do not have the slightest idea what lies beyond the windows of the bus, and all of their time on the journey is spent squabbling over who will have the seat of honor in the bus, who will be well-applauded and who will be will-considered. And so they remain until the journey’s end.
“And I’m like, ‘That was it.’ I’m in this tunnel and I’m missing life and I know it.”
That passage echoes a quote Petersen said when he first stepped away.
“To quote an Eastern philosopher,” Petersen said then, “we have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.”
This isn’t to say Petersen resented or regretted his 30-plus years in coaching. He said it’s possible to experience “beautiful things” in coaching, so long as you approached the job with the right mindset. And by the end of 2019, he knew he no longer was.
Fittingly, that realization arrived upon him at the beginning of 2019. With his Washington team in the Rose Bowl, the wonder and awe Petersen expected to feel coaching in college football’s ultimate destination game was consumed by the grind of the job.
One moment that stuck out was how a book helped in his decision process to retire from college football.
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) April 22, 2021
And for good measure, here’s Petersen’s memory of the Statue of Liberty play that beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
“I’m like ‘Guys, are you sure this is going to work?’”
Boise State @BroncoSportsFB statue of liberty play is one of the greatest plays in CFB history.
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) April 23, 2021
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