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December 9, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Chris Petersen: Leaving Boise for UW was ‘a gut decision’

New University of Washington football coach Chris Petersen, right, speaks at a packed news conference, Mon. Dec. 9, 2013, in Seattle, which include shirtless supporters, in background, and UW president Michael K. Young, at lower left. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

New University of Washington football coach Chris Petersen, right, speaks at a packed news conference, Mon. Dec. 9, 2013, in Seattle, which include shirtless supporters, in background, and UW president Michael K. Young, at lower left. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times)

Highlights from Chris Petersen’s 12-minute interview with local beat writers after his press conference Monday afternoon:

(on why Washington was different from other opportunities to leave Boise) It’s really hard for me to explain why. It really is. I think it comes down to just a feel and a gut decision. When things started heating up, usually I’ve just had no interest in these other places. And this time it was different. It just was. It was something that I was feeling, and I was a little bit surprised even at myself going, ‘Really? OK. So maybe it is time.’ And so we started looking a little bit deeper into it. … And then when you look at what this program’s all about, I think the fit compounded it.

(Did it become a running joke for you and your staff about all the rumors of you heading elsewhere over the years?) We never really even had those discussions, because we’ve been there and every year it’s the same thing. We didn’t even bring them up. Every once in a while the rumors would take off so strong that we’d comment on ‘em just to say ‘They’re not true,’ so they wouldn’t come up at all. If guys were wondering, they’d ask me and I’d tell ‘em mostly what was up. But even our team, I never once talked to our team about ‘Don’t worry about that, don’t listen to that.’ We just went about our business. It’s not something we really even thought about.

(Was there an opening that you gave strong consideration in the past?) There was one, possibly two that (he) looked at, but nothing at the end of the day I was going to leave for.

(What hard was the meeting with your Boise State player like on Friday?) It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I probably underestimated how hard it was going to be, and they were unbelievably awesome. Both those things surprised me, how hard it was. I think they were shocked — we all were. Even myself. I think it’s very unsettling and shocking at first. But they were tremendous.

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(How were they tremendous?) Just reaching back out to me and the things that they said and coming back and having a conversation. There’s some guys that I’m sure are not happy and down about it, and I totally get that. But, man, most of them were — it’s why I liked being there so much with those guys.

(How long was that meeting?) It might’ve been 10 minutes. It seemed like it was 10 hours. It was just hard, but they’re great kids.

(on moving from Mountain West, where some suggested you had maybe one or two big games a year, to the Pac-12) I know this: My job just got harder. This is a tremendously competitive conference. I get that. I remember when I was in it before  and every game comes down to a few plays, and then maybe you separate yourself or you don’t. And so I get it. Now there’s more parity in this conference from top to bottom than ever before. And it’s hard every week playing at that level. Some of those things people say are probably true. It’s always somewhere in between, but this is a tough conference — that I know. Great coaches, really good players, and it’ll be a big challenge.

(What are you most proud of from what you did at Boise?) You know, I think we had a process, we stuck to it and for us over there it really worked. And the kids bought in, and that’s why it worked. … You don’t know until you leave and even kids who leave the program reaching back out. Those are Broncos through and through and they’re still supportive and happy for me to take a new challenge on.

(Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins struggled when they left Boise. Why do you think it’ll be different for you?) Could be. You don’t know. Those guys are good coaches and all those types of things, but I’m different than those guys. Different places, for sure. I’ll say this: You need so many things to line up right. You gotta have that support, because those guys are really good coaches. They are. So it’s not just the head coach — that I’ve learned. That’s part of this ‘fit’ thing I think, with the support that’s here and the players that we can get, and I feel good about being here.

(When you were on the sideline Aug. 31 here at Husky Stadium, was there even a second where you thought, ‘Man, if I could have this.’) Naw. In fact, you’re thought process is the exact opposite every time I’ve been here — it’s how much you can’t stand being here in the stadium. It’s so overwhelming, it’s so loud. But on the other hand, when you come into this place, we tell our players: ‘This is why you came to play college football, to play in environments like this. This is what it’s all about.’ But, yeah, when you’re trying to move the ball and you can’t hear anything, I mean it’s frustrating.

(on your bedrock principles) I think the main thing is it always comes back to people. It comes back to the staff that you’re going to surround yourself with, and that’s one of the things I will lose or have lost a lot of sleep on — making sure I’ve got the right guys to coach these kids. Because we really want them to be coached a certain way. And I think there’s a lot of good football coaches out there. With all the access we have — internet-wise, pro football, all these things — the guys canb e really good X’s and O’s guys, but you start to separate people by how they’re going to treat kids. So that’s really important to me. And second, the type of players we’re going to get here. Kids that want to go to school and get a degree from this unbelievable university, that want to do things right, that want to grow. There’s a price to pay for playing in this beautiful stadium. You can’t be the normal college student. You just can’t. They’re going to have to give up things. So there’s a certain type of kid we want to come here, that understands this and it’s our job as coaches to engrain that into them.

(on trick plays) For whatever reason, that’s what everybody thinks about Boise State. But when you think about it, there might be (one) trick play a game, there could be two, and then you run none the next game. It’s going to come down to fundamental football, tough kids, playing hard and executing at a high level. The fans, shoot the players, they like the trick plays, too. And if it works, that’s what everyone remembers. … That stuff’s fun. It’s fun to do.

(First impressions of the guys on this roster?) You know, just from playing against them, I think there’s a lot of talent. I do. But I don’t know it like I need to know it. … It’ll be a process of figuring out what we got, what we need and recruiting our tails off.

(on dealing with media attention perhaps more so now in a bigger market) I like coaching football. It’s not that I don’t like the media — I like coaching football. This (media requirement) comes with the job. And the other thing is, the head coach gets way too much credit. He’s like the quarterback. (If) you got good people around you, all of a sudden things get a lot (easier). At Boise, things were going pretty darn good and I’m getting all this credit, you know, it’s not really right. There’s so many other people doing great things and it always seems to come back to me. So there’s a combination of things. There’s a perception that I don’t like doing this, and that’s not necessarily true. I get it: It’s part of the job. You guys need access to me, to the program, all those things, and we’ll work that out. Do I love having a stadium (of reporters) with everybody analyzing every single thing we do (at practice)? Nooo. But that will come on game day anyway, so let’s just wait until then.

(What is it you like so much about the Northwest?) It’s probably everything I talk about not doing — comfort zone. This is where I’ve been, this is what I know, this is who I am. So that’s probably the biggest thing. Certainly, I’ve been to Seattle a lot of times. Never lived here and I’m excited to do that. It’s a new challenge and a new chapter and it’s exciting to be in a new city.

(Outdoors guy?) Yeah, I love the water. I love to be on a boat on the water and that’s something we do in the summer. Something we’ve always done.

(Own a boat?) A small one. A ski boat.



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