Bryan Harsin named Boise State football coach: 'We're coming home'

December 11, 2013 

Boise State has hired a hometown boy to run its football program.

Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin — a Boise native who played quarterback at Boise State and was an assistant there for 10 years — was announced as the Broncos' new coach Wednesday morning.

Harsin, 37, was the Boise State offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2010. He left to become co-offensive coordinator at Texas. He moved to Arkansas State after two years, where he became the first Treasure Valley native to hold a head coaching job at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

But the Boise State job vacated last week by Chris Petersen was always on his mind.

“We’re coming home,” Harsin said in the Boise State press release. “(My wife) Kes and I are thrilled about returning to Boise State, it’s a special place built by special people. One of the hardest decisions we ever made was leaving Boise. We did that so I could become a better coach, so I could one day have the opportunity to return as head coach — that day has arrived. “I appreciate the history and tradition of the Boise State program,” Harsin continued. “I embrace that success but won’t rest on it. We will build this program every day with a sense of urgency. I can’t wait to get to work. Go Broncos!”

Harsin was a backup quarterback for the Broncos from 1995 to 1999, originally walking on to the team. He played under Pokey Allen, Tom Mason, Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter.

He became an offensive graduate assistant in 2001 under Dan Hawkins and was the tight ends coach from 2002 to 2005, when he worked closely with then-offensive coordinator Petersen.

A press conference has not been set. The school also has not released contract details or how it will pay Harsin's $1.75 million buyout.

“We are extremely excited in our selection of Bryan Harsin as the next head football coach at Boise State,” Athletic Director Mark Coyle said in the release. “Bryan is one of the top young head coaches in college football and we are thrilled to bring him back to Boise to lead the Bronco program. Bryan played a key role in the development of the football program as an assistant for 10 years at Boise State and we look forward to his leadership as we continue the ascension of Bronco football.”

Added President Bob Kustra: “I am very excited to welcome Bryan Harsin back to Bronco Nation. His return is great news for all of us who do not want to lose momentum with the national reputation the program has achieved. We hear time and time again from current and former players and coaches that the Boise State system is unique in its discipline, rigor and innovation — on the field and in the classroom. And Coach Harsin knows and understands the Boise State way as much as anyone. As we write the next chapter of Bronco football history, I know it will continue to bring distinction to Boise State University.”

Arkansas State defensive coordinator John Thompson will coach the team's bowl game, which allows Harsin to start working for Boise State immediately.

Harsin played at Capital High and has long wanted to be the Broncos' head coach, said Dale Harsin, Bryan's father, who spoke with the Idaho Statesman earlier in the week.

"This is where he's wanted to be for a long time. It's probably a couple years sooner than he wanted it to be," Dale Harsin told the Statesman. "... He's tried to mold himself about what he's learned from Petersen over time, how they've done it."

Dale Harsin said earlier this week that his family would be ecstatic if Harsin returned.

"I already applied for caffeine technician if he gets the job. I'll go get their coffee and stuff," Dale Harsin said. "It'd be a dream come true for him and Kes and the rest of them and for us. Everybody's family is still here."

Dale Harsin said a number of current Boise State players, including quarterback Grant Hedrick, were recruited by Harsin.

Boise State has been searching for a replacement for Petersen, who left Friday to become the head coach at Washington.

From Bryan Harsin's bio at Arkansas State:

He was at the helm of the Boise State offense during a five-year period where the Broncos posted a 61-5 record that included two undefeated seasons, which were capped by Fiesta Bowl wins over TCU in 2009 (14-0) and Oklahoma in 2006 (13-0). They reached at least 12 wins in four of his five seasons as coordinator and had three Top 10 finishes, including ranking No. 5/6 in 2006, No. 4/4 in 2009, and No. 10/10 entering the 2010 bowl season. In 2008, they finished just outside the Top 10 at No. 11/13.

In his five seasons as offensive coordinator at Boise State, Harsin's offenses were in the top five nationally in scoring four times, capped by ranking first in 2009 (42.2 ppg) and second in 2010 (45.1 ppg). They also ranked second in 2006 (39.7 ppg), fourth in 2007 (42.4 ppg) and 12th in 2008 (37.6 ppg). In all, Boise State averaged 41.4 ppg during his time as coordinator.

The Broncos ranked in the Top 10 in total offense in three of Harsin's seasons as coordinator and were no lower than 18th in all five of his years, culminating in 2010 with an average of 521.3 ypg, which set the BSU school record and ranked second nationally. In those five seasons, the Broncos offense averaged 459.9 ypg.

As quarterbacks coach, Harsin guided Kellen Moore into becoming one of the nation's most productive quarterbacks. In 2010, Moore was named first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America and became Boise State's first Heisman Trophy finalist. He was also a finalist for the Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Manning Award and was named the nation's top quarterback by The Touchdown Club of Columbus.

Harsin discusses the coaching influence of Chris Petersen and Mack Brown:

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