Former Boise State coaches could be next in line

sports@idahostatesman.comDecember 7, 2013 

Three coaches with extensive ties to the Boise State football program have emerged as the most likely successors to departed coach Chris Petersen, the Idaho Statesman learned Friday night.

Former defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, former offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and former coach Dirk Koetter would allow the Broncos to maintain a sense of continuity while infusing some new energy into the program.

“It’s a very unique culture,” former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore said. “Someone who understands that (would be a good fit).”

Wilcox was a graduate assistant under Dan Hawkins from 2001 to 2002 and the defensive coordinator under Petersen from 2006 to 2009. He built a defense that finished third in the nation in points allowed in 2008 and 14th in 2009. He also is a strong recruiter who brought Moore to Boise.

Wilcox left to become the coordinator at Tennessee (2010-11) before moving to Washington (2012-13). He reportedly could join former boss Steve Sarkisian at USC but hasn’t made the move yet.

Harsin grew up in Boise, played quarterback at Capital High and Boise State (1995-99), served as an assistant under Hawkins (2001-05) and became offensive coordinator under Petersen (2006-10). The Broncos led the nation in scoring in 2009 and finished second in 2010. He was Moore’s position coach for four years, too.

Harsin spent two years as the co-offensive coordinator at Texas (2011-12) and became the head coach at Arkansas State this year. The Red Wolves are 7-5 and going to the Bowl. He has an onerous, $1.75 million buyout designed to prevent the Red Wolves from losing their coach for the third straight year.

Still, Harsin is interested.

“This is where he’s wanted to be for a long time — probably a couple years sooner than he wanted it to be,” his father, Dale Harsin of Boise, said.

Koetter was the Broncos’ head coach from 1998 to 2000, leading the team to a 26-10 record. His teams won the first two bowl games in school history and set the course for the run of success that followed.

He went 40-34 in six seasons at Arizona State and is now the offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL. He is close friends with Petersen.

All three former BSU coaches were mentioned by ex-players as good fits.

“I’m sure they’ll do their search and everything,” former cornerback Brandyn Thompson (2007-10) said. “If I had a vote, it’d definitely be for Coach Wilcox or Coach Harsin.”

Brian Murphy: 377-6444, Chadd Cripe: 377-6398

Twitter: @IDS_murphsturph, @IDS_BroncoBeat

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