Dirk Koetter is back: ‘New’ Offensive Coordinator lands in Boise, what to expect and more

Photo of Dirk Koetter courtesy of Boise State Athletics

Now more than ever, Boise State is in need of an offensive mind. Who else is better than ‘new’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to save the day.

Head coach Spencer Danielson’s decision seems to be a wise one, as he comes from a defensive background and will have his hands full running a football program for the first time in his career.

Koetter is in familiar territory here at Boise State, as he’s served as the head coach, offensive analyst and offensive coordinator in the past. He looks to be not only as a great source of experience for the offense, but for Danielson and the whole football program as well.

“In adding Dirk Koetter for this season, we are able to get everything I was searching for in an offensive coordinator,” Danielson said. “He is a proven play caller, a great developer of quarterbacks and someone that can not only lead a dynamic offense but also will invest in the lives of our student-athletes, both on and off the field. It will also allow our offense to hit the ground running with spring practice less than two weeks away.”

During Koetter’s time as head coach from 1998-2000, he notched a 26-10 record before departing for Arizona State University. There, Koetter wasn’t just head coach, he also called plays and consistently kept the Sun Devils in the top 20 offenses each year he was there. 

After his college coaching career ended, he headed for the NFL and it would be two decades before Koetter returned to the Blue. 

He was offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars and head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before retiring from the league. In that time he became known for his pass first offense which ended up being a controversial strategy at the pro level, to say the least.

Koetter retired at the end of the 2020 NFL season, but it wouldn’t be long before he was lured back to the Blue.

After two years away from football due to COVID, the 63-year-old was called back to Boise State in 2022 as an offensive analyst.

That gig didn’t last long however. After four weeks, the struggling Broncos fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough, freeing up a spot for Koetter to take over calling plays for the remainder of the season.

Looking back at the 2022 season, Koetter’s offensive scheme was definitely an improvement to the previous system.

Before Koetter took over the offense in 2022, the Broncos were averaging 22 points per game through four weeks. Upon his return to play calling, they bumped up to 32.5 points per game.

Despite Koetter’s resume reflecting a pass-heavy philosophy, when he ran Boise State’s offense that season, he ran the ball significantly more often than throwing it. In fact, the Broncos averaged 41.9 rushes and 26.3 passes per game (15.9 completions per game) which is great news if you’re an Ashton Jeanty fan. 

WIth that said, that’s 503 carries over a 12 game season, now with former running back George Holani entering the NFL draft, there isn’t much backfield help to split the carries with him this year.

For the Broncos, it’s seemingly becoming more and more important that Koetter develops redshirt freshman Malachi Nelson, and not in the way that the previous two Boise State quarterbacks were developed.  

Nelson likely won’t be a day one hero, most freshman quarterbacks aren’t, but the ground and pound offense that’s been present on the blue turf the last three years is extremely grueling for running backs.

With all of that in mind, Koetter is still a pass first coach, and this year the Broncos will have a new quarterback-coordinator combo that will get to develop for a whole offseason … I feel like we’ve been here before.

In all seriousness, at 65, Koetter is coming with experience, and experience is something that the program can benefit from this offseason.

“Coach Koetter runs an offense that I and our entire staff believes in,” Danielson said further of Koetter returning to The Blue. “His addition is not just a one-year short term fix, he will be able to coach, teach and guide everyone in our facility in a way that will set our program up for future sustained success.”

If sustained success, then Koetter’s arrival is certainly a good start. What is a little suspicious, however, is the one year deal.

There’s many ways to look at it:

Koetter could be here to spread experience and knowledge for a year and then officially retire for good once the contract is up. Maybe Boise State doesn’t want to commit long term to a coordinator that is probably asking for a lot of money

The worst conspiracy theory could be that if the offense doesn’t perform well, and Koetter doesn’t seem up to snuff, maybe they don’t want to have Spencer Danielson (35) fire Dirk Koetter (65) and tarnish another former Bronco legacy, as they did with Andy Avalos.

Something to put in your pipe. All we can hope is that Koetter coaches better than he counts, as he gave his four reasons for accepting the job, but I only count three.

“I am happy to be back, even if I didn’t see this coming. When Spencer Danielson offered me this opportunity, I said yes for four reasons with the first being my utmost belief in and respect for Coach D and what he is building here,” Koetter said in a statement to the media. “It was also because of my respect for the tradition of Bronco Football and how highly I think of this coaching staff. Last, but not least, it was how impressed I was with what this team did in its run last year to a Mountain West championship. That attitude, determination and work ethic is the exact type of program Boise State is supposed to be and to which I want to contribute.”

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