Here’s more from new Washington coach Chris Petersen’s introductory press conference …
(On why Washington?) “I think I go back to, just the timing of things, feeling like I needed to take a step out of Boise to really grow and improve. This job wherever you are is so tremendously challenging. It wasn’t about that. But very comfortable over there, very easy for me to be over there, and really didn’t think that it was best for me to be over there in terms of really becoming the person and coach that I wanted to be. With that being said, I also think it’s very important for Boise. I think it was a win-win. Because they’ll get a fabulous coach in there that will give them a new shot of energy, and so I felt really good about that. I didn’t want to leave Boise if I thought it would be bad for them if they were take a step backwards. That’s why I go back to this timing. I think it’s really good for me and my family. I think it’s good for them as well.”
(On recruiting at Boise vs. Washington) “Everywhere you are, there’s always issues. Very competitive, there’s always issues. I think the territory that we’re in is exactly where Washington is. We’re bumping up against them day in and day out. I think it’s one thing to be able to recruit to the Pac-12. I think one of the things that’s really important to me, is when you take football out of the equation, because that’s coming to an end sooner rather than later for all of us, we’re all about helping these kids chasing their dreams and aspirations of pro football, without question. But we know that card is played fast and it’s over fast. Shoot, it could happen in your first or second year with injury. So then you think about, OK, what do I got? What you’re going to have is an unbelievable, world-class degree. That’s really, really important to me when I recruit kids to a university.”
(Did you hit a ceiling at Boise?) “Not necessarily, because like I was saying, it’s so challenging, this job, and we’re so competitive. There’s always something. I’ve never been one to really get hung up on record. Who we’re playing, what our schedule looks like. We just need to go out and do the best we can do with this process. And so it wasn’t that. I just go back to, I think at the end of the day, I would have a hard time with probably looking at myself. And I think these are just feelings that you have. Sometimes it’s hard to justify or rationalize why it is. But it was just a feeling that it was time. It was time for the next step and the next challenge and new horizons.
(Impressions of season opener at Husky Stadium?) “Let me tell you, that’s one of the reasons I’m here, and I mean that. When we walked in to this stadium, this beautiful environment. There’s not a better one in college football. and then you pack it with these passionate people in purple? Holy smokes. I mean, I was very, very irritated, to tell you the truth. But deep down, I really liked it. Because that’s what college football should be all about. And there’s no questions, that’s what I’m talking about, the fit. I want to be part of that. I think it’s exciting. It gives everybody energy and enthusiasm being part of it. This is college football at its finest.
(Impressions of the UW team) “Very talented. Well-coached. I think Coach Sark and his crew have done a great job of building this thing back up. That’s hard, tough work, and I get that as much as anybody. Most of these coaches that are here, I know very well, so I know the type of coaches that they are. Well-coached, tough, hard-nosed kids with a lot of talent.
(Future of UW assistant coaches? What’s the plan) “Not yet. We’re still working that out. I think in the next week or so, a lot of things are going to happen and play out. We don’t have an exact plan. It would be premature to talk about that.”
(BSU assistants coming with?) “We have a plan lined up but it’s not set in stone, and like I said, we’ll let that play out and start to take shape.”
(Will you be at the bowl game?) “I certainly will be around for some of the practices. I don’t want to be that dark shadow looming over. These guys have done a great job this season. And I understand as well as anyone, how tough it is on these kids, what they’ve been through the last week and a half to lose their coach. That is not easy. That’s not fun for anybody. So I want to be around here for help and support, but this is their team. They need to finish the season off right. And anything I can help with … I’m not here to coach this game. When that’s over, we’ll jump in and start getting after it. But I’m really hopeful they’ll go out and play well, because again, the circumstances they’re staring (at), that’s not easy. It’s not easy on the kids over in Boise, and it’s not. I feel bad for both sides. But we’re out of our comfort zones. We talk about adversity or comfort zone. It’s more probably out of your comfort zone than true adversity here. I think these guys will do fine. They need to go down there and enjoy the process. They’ve earned it, and play with a smile on their face.”
(On quarterbacks and offensive style) “Our philosophy on offense really runs through the quarterback, and always starts there. What is that guy’s strengths and weaknesses? We had a young man over there named Kellen Moore, I don’t think he ever ran for more than three yards in his entire life, but he played quarterback pretty good. So we’ll play to that guy’s strengths. I think a mobile guy that can move around is always a tremendous problem for defenses. And so if you have those guys, we play to his strengths. I think at the end of the day, we want to be balanced, we want to be able to run the ball. I think that’s one of the beauties of all these spread-type teams. The really good ones are very, very good at running the ball. You think about the pass game, it’s really to run the ball. That’s the best way to make the quarterback successful is being able to run the ball. Then the game starts to get a little bit easier for him. So we’ll play to our talent level, and we’ll start with the quarterback. But it will probably be some version of a spread.”
(Would you recruit mobile QB?) “That’s a great question, because that’s a hard question. We need to recruit a great quarterback, always. And if he’s mobile, that’s definitely a bonus. But this guy’s got to be a great decision-maker and accurate thrower, first and foremost, and I think you build your list from there.”
(On trying to sway players not to leave for NFL) “I’m certainly going to talk to them, but I’m not here to try to talk them out of coming back or going. I would like to help them as best I can. Help them figure that out. They’ll have friends and families and advisors that have already been much involved, and really, at the end of the day, what’s best for the kids. That’s what it’s going to come down to. Certainly you’d like those great players to stay around for another year but everybody’s going to do what’s best for them and their family at the end of the day.”
(Will this be your last job?) “You know how hard it was for me to leave Boise? I know this. Life always changes. I didn’t take this job to go anywhere else. That’s not even something that has entered my mind, ever. This is where I want to be. This is where my family wants to be. So I certainly envision and really hope I can stay here a really long time.”
(What are you focusing on right now?) “It’s all those things. That’s why it’s kind of an unsettling time. There’s so much going on right now, trying to get to know the players on the team here, certainly recruiting is a premium and you can’t really recruit like you’d like to until you get your staff. So all those things are going on right now, so we’re in the process of lining them up. Like I said, in the next week, week and a half, I think things will shake down pretty good. The nice thing is, we’ve got another week and then it goes dead. We’ll be at the dead period and then we’ll be able to put the crew together and get our bearings and move with the plan going forward.”
(Purple turf?) “I’m good for change. That’s why I came here. We had some green at our indoor facility. So this is always … to me, those type of things I always get a kick out of because they’re always so much about the fans and the culture and what it’s all about. When I first came to Boise, it was the blue turf, it was that old AstroTurf stuff, and so they were going to change it out to the new field turf. So there was a big hubbub about maybe it’s time to go back to a green field and I’m thinking yeah, that’s probably good. So they ran a poll in the paper there, and it was 99 percent blue. So that solved that forever.”
(Recruiting the Northwest?) “Absolutely. You want to keep the kids in-state right here. That’s where it starts, without question. Now, there’s a lot of good players in the Northwest and it’s going to be a competitive battle to be able to keep them here. But I look at this setup, I look at what we have to offer and I think we’ve got a great shot of keeping some of those great players right here.”
(Was there an ah-ha moment when you knew you wanted to come here?) “I think whenever those discussions started with Washington, these things happen so fast, but I think when the whole Washington thing started, I just kind of felt in my heart that (if) this was going to be right on their side, then it would be right on my side. And I think it comes down to, all big decisions, whether you’re an 18-year-old recruit or an old, 49-year-old coach, and you’re making big decisions, there are good choices on both sides. It comes down to just a gut feeling in your heart and your stomach. I just really feel this is where I need to be.”
(On what he did well at Boise and what needs to improve) “The second part is hard for me to answer about what we need to improve right here. Still figuring that out. I know this: the building job that was done here by Coach Sark and his staff was very good. It’s not easy, where they started. That’s hard work. It really is. And so they’re still really on the right track. I think at Boise we did such a good job of really establishing a philosophy that we wanted to live by. And it wasn’t just words on paper. And our coaches did such a great job of really instilling these things in our young men, and then they bought into it. We can preach it all day but if they’re not going to be all-in, it doesn’t matter. It’s not just about football. it’s really about life. I think that’s the thing we probably did the best at.”
(One thing that attracted him most to UW?) “I think that’s the beauty of it. It wasn’t one thing. It was many things. And a bunch of little things added up to being, this is where I need to be. From some of the things I already spoke about to the university, to the conference that we play in, to being in Seattle. All those things are really big, important things to me and my family. And I’m pretty proud to be standing before you today.”
(Would you have taken this job in 2008?) “That’s a good question. It’s hard for me to answer it, because it’s all about timing, and I think every year at Boise, I was never thinking about leaving. I really wasn’t. but then things start to happen and change, not necessarily by anybody doing anything, but just you as a person. I think it’s so important. We talk about it to our players all the time about getting out of your comfort zone, taking challenges, putting yourself at risk a little bit, and growing. And the only way that you can do that is to take on different things. And it’s human nature to not want to get out of our comfort zone. But if we stay in it all the time … if you’re not growing, you’re going backwards. So here we are.”
(Are you going to beat Oregon?) “Do we have to start that already? We’ll be swinging hard.”
(How open will program be to fans/media?) “We need to make sure the fans know what we’re all about, and be able to give them a taste of the Huskies, without question, and certainly with the media as well. So I think there’s a balance there, so we can keep our kids and coaches focused on what we need to do without being tremendously distracted. So I think there’s always a balance there that we’ll work through as we head forward.”