UW Football HC Chris Petersen talks upcoming season, coaching leadership
Washington football head coach Chris Petersen joined Brock Huard and Mike Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday to talk about the upcoming season (download here).
Here are a few highlights:
On the incoming freshman players, and the role the coaching staff has right now: “We can’t coach them, football-wise. We can have some meetings with them. But they’re also in a pretty intense writing class all summer for the month. So they’re in class in the late morning and then they’re in class again in the early afternoon… Really the last thing I’m worried about with these guys is the weight room and the football part of things in this month. I’m really concerned (with), and really into trying to indoctrinate them into, our culture: how to show up early to everything, how to be prepared for everything, how they’re going to treat each other, and how they conduct themselves in the dorm. When that is correct, the rest is going to work out just fine. So it’s an intense month for them… the (playbook study and training) is important, it is. But it’s not as important as all the other stuff I just spoke about.”
On whether he has a sense of who the leaders on this team will be: “I think that’s always a work in progress. And when you lose the seniors that you lose, some people might think this guy has to be a great player to be a leader. And you love it when that happens, but that’s few and far between. We’ll have a lot of really solid players that are more of the leader-type guy in the locker room. And so everyone will really talk about, ‘Oh, this guy’s really being a leader,’ and I’m like how do you know that? Because he’s playing really good? So the playing part of things and the leadership part of things a lot of times are mutually-exclusive. I love it when our best players are our leaders. I mean, that’s when the juice really starts to flow. And so we’re still a work in progress there. And I always have a leadership team, a council, that I try to teach leadership to. It’s awesome; it’s one of the things I like about this job.
“I’ve always heard about coaches complaining about, ‘We had a losing season, we had no leaders on the team.’ I’ve heard that forever and I’m always thinking, well are you coaching leadership as hard as you coach zone read and all those types of things? And I already know the answer to that. I learned that long ago. You know, this is a hard concept to teach. You have to go out and get hit in the mouth and it takes years to develop, but at least I’m going to start it here. Leadership (is) a lifelong skill that they can carry on to all parts of their life and hopefully, most importantly, with their family. And that’s how I start the whole thing, like, ‘This thing is a life skill that if I can get you started on this the right way, and we can learn some good lessons, and you can become a leader for this team, we’re going to both be better off for it down the road.’”
What’s the key for coaching leaders? “I don’t know if there’s one key to it. The one thing that I do know (is) leaders come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Everybody thinks it’s this charismatic personality. And you love it when it’s like that, but that is just so few and far between. And all the research says that that really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with leadership, this charismatic personality. It’s what the guy’s made of and the decisions he makes; the trust and the respect, and the help the leader gives other people. These are the principles we teach around here for these kids.”
How’s quarterback Jake Browning doing? “He’s awesome. I think of Jake a little bit like I think of Budda (Baker). My favorite Budda Baker stories are me trying to be out at practice before Budda would be and watching him stand at the tunnel before he’d run out to the field for practice. (He’d) put his helmet on, stand there for about 30 seconds – he was just getting his mind right – and then he would run. He would never walk to the practice field. He would run out to where the DBs would work out every single day, and from drill to drill he ran, like he was getting his mind right, and he would never walk on the field. We try to promote that. Our guys are pretty good about moving around (during) practice. But it was just so impressive … and it was every day. That’s the key to anything in terms of greatness, is consistency. Anybody can have a great day… but just to do it day after day, that just starts to separate people. And he would do that all the time. And Jake is a lot like that. He is all business. He wants to get better worse than anyone in this building, and he backs it up with his consistent mindset and work ethic. And so he’s awesome to be around. You just love being around people like that. It gets inspiring to our coaches; these old guys, we think we have the answers, but we watch our young guys and think, ‘Yeah, we need to all be like this guy here.’”