Chris Petersen is taking a different approach to the series of annual questions and speculation linking him to nearly every available head coaching job in college football.
This year, at least at the outset, Petersen is resorting to humor.
When asked Monday about his name being mentioned in the search for the bevy of new coaching vacancies, Petersen simply looked at his watch, noted the time and chided reporters for taking so long to once again bring up the subject.
”Twenty-two minutes, that’s better than I thought,” Petersen said. ”It’s just rumors. That’s all I really want to say about this, and I say it every year.”
While Petersen’s tone publicly may be different, the message is the same: He has no intention of leaving the Broncos.
Petersen’s name surfaces in ritualistic fashion around the same time many of his colleagues at bigger schools are getting fired. Last year it was Penn State; the year before that Stanford when Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL. This year, media, bloggers or others posting on the Internet are tying him to Arkansas, Colorado and California. Also looking for new coaches are two other SEC schools, Auburn and Tennessee, plus Boston College and Purdue.
But he’s also hard to ignore as a prime candidate, especially since the Broncos have been wildly successful during his seven-year tenure in Boise. Since taking over, Petersen has compiled a record of 82-8 and a winning percentage of .911, the best at the FBS level.
During his time, Boise State has jumped conferences, getting more competitive along the way, played in two BCS bowls and earned respect nationally as a small-school program all too capable of beating teams from the biggest and best conferences.
But at the same time, it’s Boise State’s size — or lack thereof — that fuels rumors that he’s interested in coaching elsewhere, whether it’s the small capacity of Bronco Stadium, inferior team facilities or the hassles and uncertainty caused by conference realignment and landing in a conference that automatically qualifies for the BCS.
”It is what it is,” Petersen joked about the latest series of stories. ”It means zero here. We don’t even pay attention to it.”
Petersen acknowledged the rumor mill has in the past confounded recruiting efforts, then he quickly directed the press conference back to football questions and the 25th-ranked Broncos’ upcoming game with Nevada.
Earlier this year, Petersen signed a contract extension that pays him more than $2 million per year. The deal keeps him under contract through January 2017.