SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Boise State sophomore wide receiver Chaz Anderson and junior cornerback Donte Deayon took the stage alongside coach Bryan Harsin on Monday at Fiesta Bowl media day and asked some questions of their own.
The short video is worth watching. A few highlights:
— The players asked Harsin who the team clowns are. “You two guys. They’re sitting right here,” he said. They asked his favorite color. “Blue.” They asked his favorite animal. “Bronco.” “You’re good,” they said. “It’s not my first rodeo,” he said.
— Anderson asked about the myth of birds thinking the blue turf is a lake. “We’ve had a few guys get swallowed up in there. You have to make sure to step in the right spots or you get lost. So absolutely.”
— At the end, junior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes and junior defensive tackle Armand Nance photo-bombed the trio on stage.
During the serious part of the press conference, Harsin said that his priorities in discussions with Athletic Director Mark Coyle are to take care of his assistant coaches and the players.
Coyle told the Idaho Statesman earlier this month that he has discussed contract upgrades for Harsin and his assistants with the coach.
Harsin ranked 72nd in the nation in head coach’s salary in 2014, according to the USA Today salary database. He accepted a five-year contract with relatively low salaries in the first two years ($1 million per year, increasing to $1.3 million in 2016) because Boise State paid a $1.75 million buyout to Arkansas State to get him.
Harsin also negotiated a $2.2 million salary pool for his assistant coaches. He used $2.05 million in 2014, so he has $150,000 in guaranteed raises he can provide to assistants in 2015.
The Broncos’ salary pool for assistants ranked just outside the top 50 in 2014, according to USA Today’s database. It is the largest assistants pool for any member of the lower-revenue Group of Five conferences.
Harsin and his staff led Boise State to an 11-2 regular season, the first outright Mountain West championship in program history and a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. The school could net $1.5 million or more from the bowl trip, depending on expenses and final ticket sales.
“(Coyle) is completely on board with taking care of our assistants,” Harsin said, “and getting those guys basically what their value is — as much as we can — and not assuming that because they’re a guy who played at Boise State that that’s good enough. To me, the key is keeping our staff here. Our coaches have done a great job. We want to make this the best opportunity available to all of our coaches.”
As for his own contract, Harsin says his lower salary was a fair trade for the school buying out his Arkansas State contract.
“My situation is good,” he said. “ I didn’t want (the buyout) to be the reason why I didn’t have an opportunity to come back, so what we worked out is a good deal for me and my family and it’s a good deal for Boise State. Right now, it’s about taking care of our assistant coaches and making sure that the monies that we do have go back into the program.”
The Broncos have provided more food and shakes to players this year under the new NCAA rules for meals, he said. He wants that to continue.
Here is the original story on the coaches’ contracts from Coyle’s perspective.
Other notes and quotes from Fiesta Bowl media day:
— The latest ticket update from Boise State: 9,700 sold. That leaves 2,800 in Boise State's hands — valued at $420,000.
— Harsin on the Fiesta Bowl: “Every time we’ve been here or I’ve been here, it gets better and better. This year in particular with the College Football Playoff and the way everything has changed, we feel like we’re one of the few teams in these big bowl games making a little bit of history.”
— The Broncos wore shoulder pads but not full pads during the “Tuesday” practice, which was held on Saturday. That’s a departure from their regular schedule. “We’ve been very physical prior to coming to Arizona,” Harsin said. “The guys have done exactly what we’ve asked them to do.”
— Harsin on Arizona’s offense: “When you have the chance to read, pull, run and throw and do it in different ways they’re doing some things differently than most. You’ve got to do your job. Once you’re out of position, their team speed, they take it and go. We need to be disciplined.”
— Former Boise State defensive lineman Jeff Worthy, who was dismissed from the team in January 2013, spoke about how that incident was a catalyst for turning around his life. I’ll have a full story posted later. Worthy said: “The person you see right now is not the same person I was in Boise. I changed my life around. Getting dismissed from the team, there was a point I didn’t want to play football anymore. I didn’t deserve to be here.”
— Arizona wide receiver DaVonte’ Neal, a high school teammate of Boise State tight end Jake Roh, began his career at Notre Dame. He transferred back to Arizona so that he could be a regular part of his daughter’s life. She’ll turn 2 in February. “I just had to be a part of her life,” he said. “I didn’t want to miss out on that.”
— Arizona wide receiver Trey Griffey is the son of baseball legend Ken Griffey Jr. and a former high school teammate of former Boise State QB Nick Patti. Patti wanted Griffey to join him in Boise. “They didn’t (recruit me),” Griffey said, “but Nick did.”
— Arizona true freshman tailback Nick Wilson, who is from Fresno, Calif., grew up admiring the Broncos’ program and took an unofficial visit there. But he didn’t get a scholarship offer until late in the recruiting process, he said.
— Personnel updates can be found in an earlier post.
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