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Former UC Davis QB Petersen and former coach Patterson lead unbeaten FBS teams
Boise State head football coach Chris Petersen was a record-setting quarterback for UC Davis in 1986, the same year that current TCU head coach Gary Patterson was an assistant on the defensive side of the ball. They have both enjoyed impressive coaching careers while leading their respective schools into elite status in college football.
Boise State and TCU used to be stepping stones for coaches.
They came, they won and they left for bigger, richer programs.
Those days may be over. As they prepare to meet in the Fiesta Bowl, Boise State and TCU have become destinations.
That much was clear on Friday, when the Broncos announced they had reached an agreement on a five-year contract with Chris Petersen - a deal that came a few weeks after TCU’s Gary Patterson agreed to a contract that will keep him in Fort Worth through 2016.
“For me, we’ve built so much at our place in 12 years, I wouldn’t be one of those wanting to turn it over to just anybody,” Patterson said at Fiesta Bowl media day on Friday. “I’ve never said never, and I think Chris has been the same way. But in the same right, we like what we have.”
Credit the BCS for helping change perception of both programs - and their coaching positions.
College football’s controversial postseason scheme has been portrayed as unfair to those outside the six conferences with automatic bids and Notre Dame, and some have contended that the BCS has wrongly denied the sixth-ranked Broncos (13-0) and the third-rated Horned Frogs (12-0) a shot at the national title.
But the BCS has also helped turn Boise State and TCU into places that can attract, and keep, top-flight coaches.
Aside from money, the BCS has given both programs national exposure and access to recruits who once might have spurned them.
“I think one thing all coaches appreciate is really having a good chance to win,” said Petersen, who is 48-4 at Boise State and has guided the Broncos into their second Fiesta Bowl in his four years at the helm.
In addition, both programs are often on national television, and both have benefitted from the 85-scholarship limit, which makes it harder for the sport’s traditional powers to hoard talent.
“We do have some of those variables that, five or 10 years ago, we weren’t able to talk about,” Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said.
That’s a dramatic change from the days when both schools served as launching pads for coaches - some of whom found that life wasn’t quite as good elsewhere.
“You can look at both programs: people that came there, built something and left,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “And now they’re diminished or they’re no longer in the business.”
Indeed, Patterson followed Dennis Franchione, who spent three seasons in TCU, leaving for Alabama after the 2000 season. After two seasons with the Crimson Tide, Franchione bolted for Texas A&M, where he lasted five seasons. He’s been out of coaching the last two seasons.
The three coaches who preceded Petersen at Boise State - Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins - all left for higher-profile jobs.
Nutt went to Arkansas after going 5-6 at Boise State in 1997. He’s since moved on to Mississippi.
Koetter spent three seasons as the Broncos’ coach before leaving for Arizona State, where he was fired. He’s the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hawkins coached Boise State for five seasons, then left for Colorado, where he’s struggled.
Petersen appreciates the work his predecessors did to help establish the program. But so far he’s resisted the temptation to translate his success there into a job elsewhere, and Friday’s announcement makes it appear he’s going to stick around for a while.
“That’s why I kind of chuckle a little bit when people talk about other jobs,” Petersen said. “Certainly Dirk Koetter is one who has said all along, ‘That’s a great job,’ and I realize that. Thousands of coaches out there would give their right arm to be coaching Boise State. I know that and that’s why I appreciate where I am.”
Petersen could probably make more money elsewhere. Boise State did not release details of Petersen’s new deal, pending approval by the state board of education. His last deal was worth $4.25 million over five years, less than the coaching salaries at top BCS schools.
TCU doesn’t release Patterson’s contract details.
Patterson is 85-27 at TCU and has led the Horned Frogs to five seasons of at least 11 wins the past seven years. This year, Patterson led TCU to its best season in 70 years on the way to becoming the first Associated Press Coach of the Year from outside the six conferences with automatic BCS bids.
Patterson may not stay at TCU for the rest of his career, but it could take a fabulous offer to make him leave.
“As far as the destination, I’ve always felt like TCU had a chance to be a destination,” Patterson said. “Any time you can be in a place where you have a recruiting base, and then you have the financial help of your university and your alumni to do the things you need to do, then you’re going to have a chance.”
By staying at their respective schools, Patterson and Petersen have also established credibility with recruits.
And the better the coaches recruit, the more they’ll win.
“To not just cut and run like a lot of other coaches says a lot about a guy’s character,” TCU offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse said.
By Associated Press