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BYU’s search for an Offensive Coordinator: Will Paul Peterson return to where his coaching career began?

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Paul Peterson brings experience and success to the table.

Tar Heels v Golden Eagles Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

For the second time in three seasons BYU is in search of a new guiding light on offense. With the release of Ty Detmer from the offensive coordinator position there has been much speculation as to who could be the next play caller for the Cougars. Every day until BYU names a new offensive coordinator Vanquish The Foe will be profiling a specific candidate and what makes them right (or wrong) for the position. Today we take a look at Snow College head coach Paul Peterson.

It always seemed as though the arrival of Paul Peterson at BYU wasn’t a matter of if, but when.

His older brother Charlie played quarterback for the Cougars in the early aughts and one can assume Paul wanted to follow in his footsteps after a successful career at Bingham High School (he earned all-state honors his junior and senior years). Alas the call never came and he only received offers from smaller Division II schools.

After returning home from his mission he landed at Snow College where he was the starter for two years, one of which he received junior college All-American honors. In that 2002 season he led the NJCAA in both passing yards (2,982) and touchdowns (35). Surely the performance was good enough for the BYU coaching staff to take notice.

After making over a dozen physical highlight tapes (a process that stands in stark contrast to the digital age of YouTube and Hudl highligh packages) and sending them off to various programs, Peterson landed at Boston College. It’s unclear if BYU ever offered Peterson a scholarship or if he was offered and turned it down. Either way the Cougars missed out on a quality signal caller as Paul headed back east to continue his career as a Golden Eagle.

It wasn’t until after his playing days were over (very successful ones at that) did Peterson show up on campus in Provo. In 2006 he got his first job in coaching when he joined Bronco Mendenhall’s staff as an offensive graduate assistant. It just so happened to be one of the more explosive offenses in recent memory, led by the impressive quarterback play of John Beck. It’s interesting to note that one of two losses that season was against Boston College.

Eleven years after that 11-2 season there is a chance that Paul Peterson could return to where his coaching career began, this time as an offensive coordinator. In an interview with the Deseret News, Peterson said that while he hasn’t been officially contacted about the position he would be interested if they offered.

Would BYU offer the former graduate assistant? If his experience and success are any indicators then Peterson should be a prime candidate.

After the dismissal of Ty Detmer the general consensus leans towards hiring someone with experience as an offensive coordinator at the college level. While Detmer had loads of experience on the field with his four years at BYU and fourteen in the NFL, his first job at the college level was as the offensive coordinator. If BYU were to hire Peterson they would bring on someone with eleven years of college level coaching, with five of them coming as an offensive coordinator and play caller.

After a year as an offensive graduate assistant at BYU and another year as a defensive GA at North Carolina State, Peterson spent four seasons at Southern Utah coaching the quarterbacks and wide receivers. He was then hired at Sacramento State as the offensive coordinator where he spent five seasons before taking the head coaching job at Snow College.

Those years of experience also come with a good amount of success. Here’s a quick breakdown of what he accomplished along the way.

  • While at Southern Utah he coached three of the most successful quarterbacks in recent history including Brad Sorensen, who was the 2009 Great West Conference MVP by completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,143 yards and 17 touchdowns.
  • Peterson coached another Great West Conference MVP in 2010 in Tysson Poots who hauled in 85 catches for 1,230 yards and 11 touchdowns.
  • In the 2014 season at Sacramento State, Peterson’s offense was one of the best in school history. The team set or tied nine school single season records, including points (458), points per game (38.2), touchdowns (60) and total yards (5,780).
  • Between 2011-2014 Peterson coached Garrett Safron who set numerous Sacramento State records including career marks of 9,713 passing yards and 86 touchdowns.
  • The Sacramento State offense also produced a pair of dangerous wide receivers in DeAndre Carter and Nnamdi Agude. Both of the wide outs eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark with Carter catching 99 passes for 1,321 yards and 17 touchdowns and Agude bringing in 70 reception for 1,156 yards.
  • In his first season as the head coach at Snow the team went 10-1, including a 43-41 victory over #10 Blinn College in the El Toro Bowl.

In every stop he’s had success and made improvements, which shouldn’t be discounted because it was done at the FCS and juco level. The balanced spread attack that he’s used at both Sacramento State and Snow utilize sets that rely on zone reads to open up running lanes and create space for the passing game. This last year at Snow the offense was almost perfectly balanced with 3,156 yards on the ground and 2,845 through the air. Their highlight video below showcases their explosive plays in both facets of the offense.

BYU almost finds themselves in the same situation that they did when Paul Peterson was at Snow College as a player. Just like his 2002 season, he is putting up great numbers and racking up wins at the junior college level. The Cougars missed out on Peterson as a player as he went on to do great things for Boston College.

As they evaluate Paul Peterson as their next offensive hire, they might not want to make the same mistake twice.