As we began this season of Boise State football I remember looking at the schedule, thinking about where the team had been and where it landed last year, hearing what Coach Pete was letting on about how difficult the road could very well be this year as well as the reality that everything, and I do mean everything, in life is cyclical and came to the conclusion that the cycle is on a downward trend with this program right now.
Now as the team moved into things and started to show signs of faltering once again this year I didn't panic because I knew the chances were good this would happen. What I did instead is start to ask myself if there was a precedent for this kind of thing out there in the past with other coaches who had stayed at programs for a long enough period of time that the cycle went around. I went out and did a little research on three FBS coaches who had tenures within the control period mentioned previously but also continued on past that first cycle because I wanted to see what such a thing looked like over the longer term and thus get a sense for what it might look like for this program and this coach should he continue at Boise State.
I went ahead and picked three coaches with tenures longer than 10 years at a single program - Joe Paterno, Barry Switzer, and Lou Holtz and considered data for the program that they are best known for respectively - Penn State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.
Here are links to each coach's record that I pulled from Sports-Reference.com:
Now there are two key points I want to make from this data. First, if you look at the data across the full tenure for each coach you identify a clear demonstration of the cycle. With some the frequency of the cycle is shorter, with others longer but you cannot deny that the coaches and their programs had their high points and low points throughout. Second, look closely at what happens to the win/loss record after each coach experiences his first unbeaten season. In each case somewhere in the range of the 7th to the 9th season each program experiences a season with four or more losses. Additionally, the two coaches with the greatest tenure went on to take their programs to either 11-1 or 12-0 records on numerous occasions thereafter with a few of those winning years seeing their programs land as conference and national champions.
My ultimate point is this: A rather simple examination of precedent using historical data from other coaches who had been on a tenure track with their programs and some intuitive thinking makes one realize that what we are seeing with Boise State's football program and it's coach is a natural cycle that, based on what we've seen historically with some other programs, will tend to turn around and recover.
I truly believe that if Chris Petersen didn't see something of value in what he has in Boise and didn't have some kind of motivation to take the program to the highest level possible he'd be gone. I think there's something about this that's personal for Coach Pete. He's got on his mind wanting to make his mark and not be another coach thrown into the "AQ" coaching carousel where he wouldn't have the chance he has here to actually build something really respectable from what everyone in the those conferences thinks is substandard.
Bronco Nation isn't enjoying this part of the cycle but the reality is that it will end. Our job as Bronco Nation is to support the program and the coach through this phase of his tenure. We should expect to see the cycle turn around and what is likely coming in terms of success on the other side will build well upon what the program has already experienced so far.