If he wanted, Bradley Dale Peveto could probably bring a costume party to its knees by donning a Popeye outfit. More than a physical resemblance though, Peveto shares the famous character's 'I am what I am' mentality.
Bradley Dale Peveto has been involved in football his entire life (Photo courtesy of Chet White, UK Athletics)
After 26 years and 10 stops along the way, Peveto has a firm grasp on his identity.
“I've had the chance to do some other things,” Peveto said. “But I think some point you know who you are and I'm a college football coach. I think I was put here to be a college football coach. It's what I enjoy. I think it's who I am.”
Kentucky's safeties coach and special teams coordinator talks wistfully of his life as a football junkie. He grew up in Orangefield, Texas, a suburb of Beaumont about 110 miles east of Houston, as the son of a coach literally in the shadow of the school he attended. He was later a standout on special teams at SMU before jumping directly into coach.
“I grew up a fieldhouse rat,” Peveto said. “My dad was my head football coach and from the time I was a little boy until I went off to college I was in that fieldhouse every day. It was just a fieldhouse rat. I knew at a young age that I wanted to be a football coach.
“We were a football family. It's what we did and who we were. I lived on the campus (of my high school). When I got out of SMU I was 24 and had basically lived on a school campus for almost all of my life. (You look outside and there was the stadium, you know? I walked out my front door and the stadium was right there. In college I looked out and there was our practice field.”
It was natural for Peveto and his three brothers to get into coaching. Although two have since passed away Peveto, the third youngest, and his siblings followed in lockstep with their father, Ed, who was a Hall of Fame coach in the Houston area.
“Man, no doubt about it,” Peveto said of having coaching in his blood. “I grew up in a very tough family. My dad was a strict disciplinarian, a very tough guy but very loving. He's a guy you didn't want to cross or look at him wrong or sass momma because he'd be on ya but he was a very loving guy and I learned a lot from him. He was a hard worker, he was great with people, very strict, and he didn't ever waver from his values, ever. It was who he was. I learned a lot from that.”
That love affair with football has dominated Peveto's life. He has coached at nine different college programs, including two stops at Northwestern State, and never stayed more than four years in a row at any place. He is the poster child for the cruel game of coaching, where leading a vagabond life is often the rule, not the exception.
Not that Peveto minds. In fact, he actually enjoys that part of it.
“I've been in some great towns,” Peveto said. “The adventure of it...it's kind of like being a modern day cowboy. Think about it. You get on your horse and ride to the next town. It's like the old West. It's always been the adventure of moving, new towns and new people. It's fun. Each town brings its own uniqueness. I've enjoyed everywhere I've lived, but I'm not sure I've lived anywhere better than Kentucky.”
As he enters his 27th season of coaching Peveto's enthusiasm and energy belies his experience. The game has slowed his aging process in many ways.
“If you ever go to the national college (coaching) convention you're going to see a lot of young people running around,” Peveto said. “When I went to the Senior Bowl one year that's kind of the national convention for college coaches and it's a very old profession. The college game with recruiting is a young man's game and you're really forced to stay young at heart, stay in shape physically and study the game. If you don't you'll be out of work in a hurry, there is no doubt about it.”
As he gazed out his office window with a clear view of Kentucky's baseball stadium, nestled just off to the side of the football practice fields, Peveto explained his connection to the game.
“The beautiful thing about the business is, I think, if you and I were in the cement business, cement don't change,” Peveto said. “I mean, I'm sure there is a way to mix it and you have to dot your I's and cross your T's, but cement is cement I would think. As long as you mix it right you're job is going to be done.
“This thing, there is a lot of moving parts, you know? How you teach, how you study, social media, technology...it's just amazing how the game changes and you've got to keep up with that. It's not easy but it sure is a lot of fun.”
He is who he is.
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