OPINION: Bryan Harsin should return as Boise State Football’s head coach

bryan harsin, former Boise State football head coach
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

With the release of former Bronco head coach Andy Avalos, Boise State is in search of its new leader. 

As the Boise State football program looms in the bounds with an uncertain future and an even more uncertain coaching staff, the only man that can save them is none other than Bryan Harsin. 

Yes … Bryan Harsin. 

As in the former Bronco head coach, former Bronco offensive coordinator and former Bronco quarterback, Bryan Harsin. 

Harsin had tremendous success at the helm for Boise State. Garnering a 69-19 overall record at Boise State and leading the team to a bowl game each season as head coach. 

The saying “once a Bronco, always a Bronco” reigns true for Harsin. 

Though Harsin has found himself coaching for a myriad of different programs in his career such as University of Texas, Arkansas State, Eastern Oregon University and Auburn, he has always found his way back to his home of Boise, Idaho. 

In Harsin’s early career, he was Bronco head coach Chris Petersen’s offensive coordinator for five of his eight seasons as head coach (2006-10). In that time he was named a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

During Harsins’ tenure as offensive coordinator, Boise State went 61-5.

After multiple stints at different colleges, Harsin returned to replace his mentor and former head coach Chris Peterson ahead of the 2014 season where he began making a name for himself. 

In his debut season, Harsin led his alma mater back to where the program rose to national prominence, the Fiesta Bowl. 

Boise State went 12-2 in 2014, winning its first outright Mountain West Championship and capping the campaign with a 38-30 victory over Arizona in the 2014 VIZIO Fiesta Bowl.

The 2014 Fiesta Bowl marked the third win for the Broncos in such a title in the previous nine seasons. Harsin, serving as offensive coordinator in the first two Fiesta Bowl victories, has been a part of each of the school’s three appearances in the game.

The success didn’t stop there for Harsin. 

Under Harsin as head coach, the Broncos never finished below second place standings in the Mountain West Conference and always achieved a winning record. Not only that, but the Broncos won three of the seven Mountain West Championship titles during Harsin’s tenure. 

With wins in the Fiesta Bowl against University of Arizona (2014), Poinsettia Bowl against Northern Illinois Huskies (2015) and the Las Vegas Bowl against University of Oregon (2017), Harsin dripped with success.

As success mounted for Harsin, there was no doubt that a program in the likes of Auburn University would pick up a highly desirable head coach such as him. 

Though Harsins’ coaching talents boasted huge success in the Mountain West, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is a different story.

Harsin soon realized that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

With a rough 6-7 record his first year at Auburn and 3-5 his second season, Harsin was relieved of his head coaching duties at Auburn halfway through his second season as a Tiger. 

Though the former Bronco had a 9-12 record in Auburn, it does not diminish his success in the Mountain West. 

As the Broncos have severely lacked in offensive explosiveness this last season, there is no denying the desperate need for an offensive juggernaut like Harsin to come in and take care of business. 

Though Avalos boasted an “offense wins games, defense wins championships” type of mentality, there seemed to be not much winning going on either way. 

Harsin, having been one of the most successful Bronco head coaches, is in one of the best situations to return home. 

Having been responsible for a majority of the recruits on this current Boise State squad, such as Taylen Green, Harsin knows much of the Bronco squad thoroughly and is to thank for the team that is built as of right now. 

Not only has Harsin built a great foundation for this program and founded connections with the players, but his offensive mentality would bode well with the young core group that is already established on the team. 

With success developing highly skilled NFL players such as JL Skinner, Khalil Shakir, Cedrick Wilson, Alexander Mattison and so many more, the Broncos can use Harsin to develop even more NFL talent. 

Players like Green, Maddux Madsen, Ashton Jeanty, Prince Strachan and Jambres Dubar deserve better. They deserve a head coach that is able to use their strengths and talents to build a solid team. They deserve a coach like Harsin. 

As he has been out of the coaching realm for just over a year now, there is no doubt that with the ever changing scope of the NFL and college football, new opportunities could arise for the successful coach. 

“As college football ends, as the NFL starts to end, as things start to change … then we’ll see what happens and what opportunities come up,” Harsin said in an interview. “My goal is to be better. Whatever opportunity I go into, for myself to be better than I was and to take this experience and apply it to whatever I do next … appreciate even more just the opportunity to be a part of something great.”

There is immense hope for Bronco Nation to have Harsin return and lead one of the winningest programs in college football back onto a path of fruitfulness. 

“I will never say never,” Harsin said when asked about returning to the Boise State coaching staff. “Boise State has always changed my life, and it started as a player, it will always be ‘we’.” 

Since his release from Auburn, the former coach has been spending time with family and preparing his son, Davis Harsin, for his collegiate career at Idaho State University. 

With Harsin still located in the Treasure Valley and still looking at potential coaching openings, the stars seem to be aligning oh too well. 

Though Boise State will have to pay Avalos the remaining $3 million from his contract, the Broncos can certainly make space for the return of a Boise State football legend.

Boise State should return this gem back to The Blue.

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