A high school conference champion quarterback and linebacker.
A collegiate conference honoree and bowl winner — both as a player and coach.
A three-time National Football League playoff participant.
Peter Sirmon has enjoyed the sweet taste of success and the occasional step back that goes with the pursuit of it during his storied past.
Walla Walla High School’s football program recorded one of its finest seasons ever in 1994. The Blue Devils won the Big Nine Conference title and advanced to Kingbowl XVIII.
“We were 3-and-6 in 1993,” said Sirmon, who is in his first season as defensive coordinator at the University of California and third overall. “Coaches (including Gary Mires and Marc Yonts) opened our eyes. We went to the Boise State camp (the following summer) and did really well. It was a fun experience.
“We had a tight group of guys, a lot of selfless guys, guys who wanted to leave (the program) better than we found it,” Sirmon said.
Sirmon remembered T-shirts distributed to players before the season that sported a Kingdome-like sketch and the number 274 emblazoned in the middle of it.
“That was the number of miles from Wa-Hi to the Kingdome,” Sirmon said. “It was a strong moment in terms of the players and leadership.
“It was a cool message,” Sirmon said. “For it to come to fruition made it more special. It proved to be prophetic when they gave us those shirts.”
Sirmon has three older brothers — Thad, John, and David — who played college football. Peter attended the University of Oregon to do just that.
The Ducks butted heads with Penn State in the Rose Bowl the season prior to Sirmon’s arrival.
Resolve and persistence were keys during Sirmon’s early days in Eugene while bouncing into and out of the starting lineup.
“The freshman year was the most challenging,” Sirmon said. “But I kept believing in myself in overcoming mental adversity.”
So much so that that he suited up for the Senior Bowl, was named to the 1999 Pac-10 Conference’s first team, and led the league in tackles twice.
Oregon played in the Las Vegas (1997), Aloha (1998), and Sun (1999) Bowls when Sirmon donned the No. 44 jersey.
“My sophomore year was my most complete year,” Sirmon said. “One coach thought I might get to play in the NFL.”
Sirmon was part of three playoff and two division championship teams when he played for the Tennessee Titans from 2000-06.
Not bad for an individual who said it was never a dream to play professionally.
“I had the good fortune of playing for a well-run organization,” Sirmon said. “The consistency was there. They had a long-term view. It was a team built on draft picks.”
Sirmon’s coaching career began in 2008 as a volunteer assistant under Blaine Bennett at NCAA Division II playoff-qualifier Central Washington.
He returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant for a conference-champion and Rose Bowl-bound Ducks’ squad a year later.
“When I look back on it, I found out how challenging it is to get into the business,” Sirmon said. “Those kids truly loved football.
“A lot of players could have played at the other schools I’ve been to.”
Which included Tennessee, Washington, USC, and Mississippi State — an “out of thin air” chance, Sirmon said..
“(Former head coach) Dan Mullen called me, we talked for 4-5 hours, and he hired me,” Sirmon said.
Sirmon, after one year in Starkville, desired a job that would get him closer to his wife and family in Nashville.
He was hired by Louisville for the 2017 season.
“I was able to get (to Nashville) on Friday nights to watch my son play his senior year,” Sirmon said. “He won back-to-back state championships.
“I’m glad it worked out for him.”
Sirmon expressed his appreciation to Cal coach Justin Wilcox, who he had worked with at previous venues, for his latest job.
“He’s been a huge part of my journey,” Sirmon said. “He’s been supportive in every way.
“I’ve been to a lot of great places,” Sirmon said.
“All have been my own choice.
“The moves were necessary for professional reasons. I’ve been exposed to different ways to do it.
It made me more well-rounded and made me understand how to win at any level.”
And it all began with high school and college experiences, or what Sirmon defined as “a melting pot.”
“There’s example after example of so many positive moments,” Sirmon said. “It’s nice to reach back and use them. They impact you. That’s what it’s all about.”