The 2012 season was far from perfect (well—6 points from it, anyway) and there were times during the season when the Broncos looked entirely...well, beatable. And yet the team won 11 games, a conference title, and will finish in the top 20 for the 5th straight season. This wasn't Petersen's best squad, to be sure, and the wins weren't as dominating as we've come to expect—but 2012 may have been Pete's best coaching job yet, and here's why:
Petersen had to deal with the loss of the all-time winningest QB in NCAA history, 2 first-round draft picks, and 4 other draftees. Along the way, he also dealt with injuries, suspensions, and a ridiculous rumor-mill that reported him interviewing in far-flung locales before the season was even over. The results on the field were largely business-as-usual in the win column. Boise State might've made their 3rd BCS game under Pete's guidance without a 2-point home loss to San Diego State, one that was fueled by a rare special teams meltdown.
Restocking the coaching cupboard
Not only did Pete have to manage an offseason hemorrhaging of offensive and defensive stars, he also had to replace an offensive coordinator, a QB coach, and a defensive backs coach. Now, I'll certainly give those coaches credit for achieving the same results with the Broncos in their "rookie seasons", but the coaching replacements were another distraction for Pete in the offseason and another something he appeared to get right. Coach Smith was able to get Joe Southwick to improve drastically in the second half of the season, Coach Lake's secondary gave up 4 receiving TDs ALL YEAR, and Prince's offense—while not exactly where we expected a Bronco offense to be—showed flashes throughout the year of regaining their mojo. Pete was the tie that bound the staff together.
Pete's 2012 season might have been the best "reload" of his career...but don't forget that we graduated a fair amount of talent this year as well, and Coach Pete's 2013 recruiting class is his best yet...at least on paper. Scout.com has the Broncos recruiting class ranked as the 39th best in the country, and if you take into account that the Broncos have routinely crashed the top 10 with classes ranked somewhere in the 60s or 70s tells you two things 1) don't trust star-ratings, and 2) forget that...look at all these stars!
Don't forget these guys
Andy Avalos, Pete Kwiatkowski, Bob Gregory. All three coached their proverbial hearts out in 2012 as well—all dealing with attrition, injuries, suspensions and the like, and all three making sure the Broncos barely skipped a beat.
Pete had twice as many losses this year as his 2010 and 2011 totals and 5 of his 13 (ever) games decided by 4 points or fewer were played this season. Is it counterintuitive to think that this year might've been Pete's best? I don't think so...you may disagree. That's what the comments section is for. Get to commentin'