Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chris Petersen, Not Jim Harbaugh Should Be Michigan's Top Candidate

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 04:  (R-L) Head coach Chris Petersen of the Boise State Broncos shakes hands with head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs after the Broncos 17-10 victory in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the Universtity of Phoenix Stadium on January 4, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Boise State is one of the most hated programs in Division 1-A college football. No matter which state you travel to or how many fans you talk to there isn’t one person who doesn’t know, or despise, Boise State.
It’s not the winning they hate and it’s not even the blue turf, though some might have that high on their list, it’s the lack of a strong schedule year in and year out.
You can talk about their Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma and you can even talk about their win over Oregon to kick off the 2009 season. But there are as many people who credit the Broncos with those wins as discredit them as overrated.
We can sit here and debate Boise State until we’re blue in the face, no pun intended, but there is one man with ties to Boise State that gets a lot of respect outside the city of Boise and the Western Athletic Conference.
Boise State’s head coach, Chris Petersen.
That name seems to come up with just about every coaching vacancy that seems to open each and every year in college football no matter where it is.
When the Florida job came open after Urban Meyer decided to step down Petersen’s name immediately hit the rumor mill. Some, myself included, were almost sure he was the number one candidate and shoe-in for the job.
That’s why we were all shocked when the Florida athletic director introduced long time Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as their new head coach.
Now, with the Florida job filled as well as the University of Miami, there’s one job that everyone is looking at and one that most believe is already filled. The University of Michigan.
Ever since head coach Rich Rodriguez made the move from West Virginia to Ann Arbor his time was already ticking away. The Wolverine fans weren’t fond of him right from the start and it didn’t take long for them to voice their opposition. The same opposition that has been heard the loudest this season.
With another disappointing season under their belt, it would almost seem like a lock that Rodriguez is about to lose his job. He even went so far as to say he would not lobby the athletic department to be able to stay.
That in itself is the biggest white flag of surrender that Rodriguez has ever sent up the flag pole. It seems like he knows his time has come to an end and he isn’t going to keep the inevitable from happening.
If the rumors are true and he is headed out the door there’s one man that most believe will be his successor, current Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh. In fact, he’s the man that seems to be the growing favorite among Wolverine fans.
But before we hand him the scepter and the keys to the Michigan kingdom, there are those of us that not only believe Harbaugh won’t be the head coach of the Wolverines but I’ll even go as far as to say he’s not the best man for the job.
Say what you want about him being an alumni of the university and a guy that has done a great job with the Stanford football program, but has he really shown the ability to handle the kind of pressure the Michigan job would come with? Stanford isn’t exactly Michigan.
Harbaugh is a coach that is capable of doing big things at the next level of college football but when we’re talking about someone that can take this team back to where it used to be, there’s only one name that needs to be mentioned.
Petersen is not your prototypical rah-rah, fire you up, kind of guy. He’s not the kind of guy that’s going to jump up and down when a big play is made.
He is an under-control, methodical, thinking two and three plays ahead kind of coach. The Wolverines don’t need to be fired up, they need to win. Now.
Before you make the argument that a coach coming from a mid-major program won’t have the same success in big-time college football, need I remind you Urban Meyer spent two seasons as the head coach of the Utah Utes before he won two national championships with the Florida Gators.
Petersen not only brings a proven track record of winning but he brings a name that most top recruits, and their families, will already be familiar with.
Where most football programs would worry about a brand new coach bringing in the right players, one would almost have to wonder if he would have to do any recruiting at all. Would the players come to him?
I have no problem with Jim Harbaugh. In fact, I’m a huge fan of his and I enjoy the kind of spirit and energy he brings to the Stanford sidelines.
But, if I’m the Michigan Wolverines and I’m looking for a guy that can take me back to the top of the Big Ten and back to a shot at the BCS National Championship, there’s only one name they need to write down.
Chris Petersen.


  1. Good piece, Todd. Very interesting idea... and believe me, as a Michigan fan, I've thought a lot about Petersen in that role.

    The few things that could be standing in his way:

    1. He's not a "Michigan man." Of course, Bo Schembechler wasn't either when he was first hired.

    2. Boise unquestionably has a better team right now... and possibly for the next few years.

    3. I hate to say this, but Michigan might not get rid of RichRod just yet. They could end up giving him another year to screw up.

    All in all, very cool read. Well done, sir.

  2. Hey Adam, thanks so much for the comment and the compliment...it's much appreciated.

    As for Chris Petersen, while Boise State might have the better team right now, an 11-1 record at Michigan and an 11-1 record at Boise State are two very different things. Would you agree?

    If he wants success in coaching and he wants to reach the top of the college football world, it's going to have to be at another level.

    As much as people say he'll never leave Boise, I think a coach always wants a challenge and wants the bigger job.

    Maybe loyalty means more to Petersen than I think it does, but we'll see.