Snow coach knows what it means to be a Badger
EPHRAIM—Paul Peterson, recently hired as head coach of the Snow College football team, has experienced firsthand what it means to be a Badger.
Preparing for his first season as a head coach in any football program, the young coach knows what is on his shoulders, namely, a powerhouse junior college football program very much accustomed to winning.
Peterson sat down with the Messenger to talk about his journey to, from, and back to Ephraim, and the things he has learned along the way.
As far as heroes go, Peterson has had his since birth.
“These days, you have all these coaching gurus,” Peterson said. “Growing up, I didn’t really have those, so the guys that I looked up to were my siblings. My older brother, Charlie, played at BYU, so my whole goal was to be better than him. I learned a lot from him.
“I had a good high school coach named Kirk Johnson. He played at Utah State. He demanded a lot from me. He taught me some of the fundamentals that I hadn’t been coached before. I was just out there slinging it around. Those lasted all the way till I was at Boston College.”
After Peterson played backup quarterback in his first year at Snow, he served an LDS mission in Managua, Nicaragua, a country far more known for its baseball prowess than anything to do with football.
“When I came back, I had lost 20 pounds,” Peterson said. “The weight didn’t come on too quick. It took me a while to get back into it; first couple games were a little shaky, and then I started coming on.”
In his final year with the Badgers, Peterson led Snow to a 9-2 record but broke his collarbone in the final game, one of many injuries he sustained during his playing career.
Of all the hits he had taken, the worst one came in his final year as a star quarterback at Boston College when he was taken down on a sideline run and broke his leg. Peterson says that that was the moment where he finally started thinking about whether he should keep playing. A year playing professionally in Canada made it even clearer that it was time to hang up the cleats.
“I just wasn’t the same,” Peterson said. “I didn’t have the same quickness and explosion, even with my throw because I couldn’t plant off my foot. My confidence wasn’t the same.”
Peterson was replaced in that game by his backup, Matt Ryan, who currently quarterbacks for the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.
The injury, Peterson says, helped transition into coaching, first with several programs as a graduate assistant before translating to full-time coaching. At the FCS level, Peterson’s offenses were record-breakers at Southern Utah and Sacramento State.
So why come back to Snow?
“I get an opportunity to be a head coach, which is awesome, in a place that I care about deeply,” Peterson said. “I owe a lot to Snow College. At [FCS] level, there are certain pressures that you can’t anticipate. That’s the problem with college athletics now is that there’s so much pressure to win, win, win. It sucks the fun out of it. If anything, I see this as an opportunity to grow and organize myself to be able to run a program.”
Peterson says he remains committed in his first statement to the press about his desire to make Snow champions “on and off the field.” He had this to say about his statement:
“You can’t show up on the football field and expect to be champion if, in other aspects of your life, you’re faltering. I think you’ve got to put maximum effort in everything that you do. You’re acting like a champion even before you’re a champion. These guys have an opportunity here, and I don’t want them to waste it.”
Currently, Peterson remains hot on the recruiting trail. Since Peterson was brand new to Snow, it didn’t provide much time for him to attract players before National Signing Day, and he hopes to pick up the pace.