Friday, November 16, 2007

Coach Profile: Chris Petersen

If you haven't heard the name Chris Peterson before, don't worry, because you'll probably see it mentioned about a million more times on UCLA message boards over the next couple of months. He's definitely high on the list of a lot of UCLA fans and it seems like the media is buzzing about him as a candidate as well. If momentum and hype had a name it would be Chris Peterson.


Chris Peterson is 43 years old as is currently the head coach of the Boise State Broncos. Peterson has been at BSU for 6 years, 4 as the offensive coordinator and 2 as the head coach. He played his college ball as a quarterback at UC Davis before jumping into the coaching ranks.

Peterson has spent most of his college coaching career in the Pacific Northwest. He was the QB coach at Portland State for two seasons before taking the wide receiver coaching job at Oregon. In 2001 he went to Boise State and the Broncos have won the WAC every season since. Peterson was thrust into the national spotlight after his team went 13-0 last season with a thrilling overtime victory against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Chris was the first head coach in the history of Division 1 to ever go 13-0 in his first season. His current salary is around $850,000.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Boise State (Western Athletic Conference) (2006 - present)
2006 Boise State
Fiesta (W)+

Total: 13-0

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Peterson has a near flawless record as a head coach. His win over Oklahoma was extremely impressive considering the talent he has to work with at Boise State. He has a creative mind, a go-for-it style, and he has built a juggernaut program in his conference that has won 5 straight titles.

Chris has also turned Boise State into an offensive machine that has consistently ranked amongst the best in the NCAA. If he could bring a similar change to the Bruins then this team could be a force to reckon with in the PAC-10. His teams are balanced, they execute well, and they play hard each and every week. That is almost the exact opposite of what we have now under Karl Dorrell.


The only knock on Peterson is just lack of experience. He is only in his second season as a head coach. While he has put up great numbers, including going 8-1 so far this season, it is hard to say if he'll be able to replicate that success somewhere else. He also coaches in the WAC, which isn't the stiffest competition. It is a lot easier to get our team up for one or two big games every season versus having to play a tough PAC-10 conference schedule week in and week out.


It is hard not to be enthralled by the idea of a hot up-and-coming coach who has had amazing success his first two years on the job. He draws a lot of comparisons to Urban Myer, who also took a mid-major team (Utah) on an undefeated season and a BCS bowl victory.

I'll give you two other comparisons, though, just to illustrate a point. Rick Neuhisel went 20-4 his first two seasons as a head coach after being a hot up-and-coming offensive coordinator. His following seasons, while successful, we not nearly as impressive. Bob Toldeo was also a promising coordinator who took a head coaching job with little experience. By the end of his 3rd season he had his team on a 20 game winning streak (the longest in the nation) and on the cusp of a National Championship game. We all know how Bob's teams did after that early success.

I'm not saying Peterson will go down the same paths as Neuheisel or Toledo, but we have to be careful about anointing a coach as an "instant success". For every Urban Meyer there are a dozen other young coaches who don't pan-out. I would prefer for UCLA to get a more experienced, proven head coach (like a Ben Howland) who you know has been successful at multiple programs. Not just someone who is successful now but we hope will be a success at UCLA.

I think Peterson would be a pretty cool hire but it is still rolling the dice. If we can't land someone with more experience then I'm totally down with him. He is exciting, has great buzz, and he could really invigorate this program. I'm not sure if he'll want to leave the Pacific Northwest, but Guerrero might be able to lure him away with a much bigger salary.


Anonymous said...

I hope you profile Walker.

Walker is going to be a coach SOMEWHERE.

Walker is perhaps, the best overall choice even with the lack of direct HC experience. It keeps continuity on recruiting, special teams and defense.

CPBruinFan said...

I am planning on profiling coach Walker. I'm not entirely sure if he is the best overall choice as there are some very good coaches in the mix. But I'm sure he will be seriously considered by Guerrero.

seahawcla said...

First candidate you've profiled I think is worth interviewing. I am not sure he would leave but you have to like his offense and he has shown the ability to get kids to come to Boise.

Lets get Brian Kelly on the profile, guy has been very successful at his stops.

Jason said...

Biggest ding on Peterson?

Look at what the two previous deparetees from Boise State did:

Dirk Koetter, who couldn't even manage inane tasks like...I don't know, picking a starting quarterback.

Dan Hawkins, he of "IT'S DIVISION ONE FOOTBALL" and 5-6 Colorado fame.

ASU also had no defensive coaching to speak of (I originally thought they had no talent; apparently, Koetter really WAS that bad of a defensive coach). I don't think it would be much different with Petersen.

With all that said, I'd still be happy with the hire. It would at least show that UCLA is trying.

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