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NCAA Football

Chris Petersen, His New Contract and the Details Should He Exit Boise

The Idaho Statesman obtained the breakdown of Chris Petersen‘s re-worked contract with Boise State. In a nutshell, he’s still incredibly underpaid but it appears the Broncos are at least attempting to allow themselves some notice should their head coach eventually leave.

In terms of salary, Boise’s bargain totals a little over $11.7 million for five years. He earns the typical APR bonuses and licensing payments in addition to on-field escalators:

As before, the contract is extended by a year each time the Broncos win eight games. It currently runs from Feb. 1, 2012, to Jan. 31, 2017. The performance bonus is $80,000 for winning a conference championship or reaching a conference championship game; or $35,000 for a bowl appearance; or $150,000 for a BCS appearance; or $250,000 for a national championship game appearance.

Eight games and Petersen snares an additional year. That’s March Madness-level productivity at the office for the offensive savant. In essence, the contract offers a lifetime opportunity for Petersen, one that Boise State surely hopes he fulfills. The Broncos enter the Big East in 2013 but like the WAC and Mountain West, they’ll remain the premier football program in the conference.

It’s that quarter of a million dollar bonus that eats at Petersen. Not for the money but the chances grasped and dropped in a seemingly annual array of kicking mishaps.

There’s no indication that automatic qualifiers will exist in the looming restructuring of college football’s postseason. Blue blood programs in traditional conferences likely become larger beneficiaries because they sell out stadiums and drive television ratings. All that said, Boise State has made an indention in the national psyche of college football voters but it would behoove the Broncos to force their way into a BCS title game in 2012 or 2013. Oh, and they just lost a 50-game winner under center.

And before the sports contrarian wandering around the internet looking for the next chemistry professor to defend gets angry, Petersen’s compensation comes from athletic revenues, not state funds.

But most important to athletic directors nationwide and frightening to Broncos supporters are Petersen’s exit details. Thus far, his tenure in Boise has produced innumerable suitors and myriad rejections. UCLA tried as recently as this winter and the sunny skies of Los Angeles coupled with $4 million in salary weren’t enough to entice the head coach with a 73-6 record.

Petersen’s buyout is $750,000. The school’s buyout of Petersen is $250,000 per year left on the deal, plus any guaranteed money left in the deal, plus the pro-rated amount of his longevity incentive for the year he was fired. If Petersen leaves, he must do so after the end of the season, including a bowl game. The buyout applies to three kinds of jobs: FBS head coach, assistant coach at a school in Boise State’s conference or a conference Boise State has contractually agreed to join; or NFL head coach…Petersen must provide written (or e-mail) notice at least 24 hours before interviewing for a coaching job at another college or with a professional team.

Should he bolt from Boise State, $750,000 is what big money boosters carry around to pay tolls at traditional powerhouses. That number won’t stop a soul.

The second sentence though intrigues me more. Petersen agreed to finish every Broncos season, including the bowl appearance. When a Michigan or Texas or Florida comes open, the athletic director at that campus receives interest, he doesn’t need to broach it. He’d also like to fill the position quickly and Petersen’s contract forces pursuing parties to wait, perhaps as long as a month. To get their top target that’s not terribly long but it might hinder a recruiting class, the life blood of college programs.

Also, Petersen is required to give a day’s notice to the school before interviewing. With Petersen’s track record, interviews really aren’t necessary. “Do you want the job and is there a number we can get to so you’ll take it?” That’s all that needs to be asked. It can be done via telephone and by a intermediary to keep Petersen from contacting Boise. Because once he does that, the Broncos PR machine engages spin mode and leaks whatever details to the media that they believe might keep their savior in blue and orange.

Like many, I’ve been surprised by Petersen’s loyalty. I thought eventually the allure of a larger program with better facilities, a substantially more lucrative TV deal, richer recruiting base, name brand and lack of national title obstacles would lure him out of Idaho. He’s maintained his happiness through public statements of affirmation and by declining job offers.

Still, I don’t think Chris Petersen retires in Boise.

His new contract, a move to the Big East and the commitment by the Broncos to continually upgrade their facilities means quality of life and the quality of the gig currently meet his every need.

But Mack Brown won’t stay in Austin forever. Joe Jamail has $750,000 lying around in a couch somewhere. He could throw a rock on the 40 Acres and hit more 4-star prospects than he recruits in Idaho.

Does Petersen see the end of his enhanced deal in Boise?

Finding a way to snag a national title before 2014 might be the only deterrent.