Boise State Football

Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos takes job at Pac-12 school

One of Boise State’s most true blue football players is heading for the green.

Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos is leaving the Broncos to become the new defensive coordinator at Oregon, a source close to the Broncos’ program confirmed Tuesday morning. On Tuesday evening, Avalos tweeted a farewell.

“Boise State has been an unbelievable place for me and my Family. Thank you to the Leaders, staff and players. Bronco Nation you are special! Forever grateful and blessed to be a part of this Brotherhood,” he said.

Avalos, 37, is a former Boise State linebacker and has been the defensive coordinator for the past three seasons. Avalos played at Boise State from 2001 to 2004, earning first-team All-WAC honors twice, and has been an assistant coach since 2012. He coached defensive linemen in 2012 and 2013, then the linebackers in 2014 and 2015 before being promoted to defensive coordinator upon Marcel Yates’ departure for Arizona.

Under Avalos’ guidance, Boise State’s defense has routinely been a strength — the Broncos finished 10th nationally in sacks and 20th in turnovers last season. They were 22nd in total defense in 2017.

“It surprised me a little bit, but it’s a business, and I’m sure he had great reasons, because I’m positive it was a tough decision,” said former Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton (2015-18).

At Oregon, he will replace Jim Leavitt, who “parted ways” with the school earlier this month.

Boise State begins spring practices Friday. The Broncos had a major shakeup on the defensive side of the ball during the offseason, with defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a leaving for USC and cornerbacks coach Jeff Popovich going to Georgia Tech. Jeff Schmedding (Eastern Washington) was hired as outside linebackers coach, while Jalil Brown (Northern Arizona) was tabbed to coach cornerbacks. Spencer Danielson was moved from STUD ends/outside linebackers to defensive line.

Avalos was slated to make $350,000 in 2019 and 2020, as his two-year contract renewal was recently approved. Leavitt was earning $1.7 million annually as the Ducks’ defensive coordinator the last two seasons following a resurgent 2016 at Colorado.

Oregon coach Mario Cristobal saw firsthand how good an Avalos defense can be, as the Broncos held the Ducks to just 280 yards and forced four turnovers in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl, led by Leighton Vander Esch’s outstanding performance.

Boise State freshman outside linebacker Casey Kline tweeted about Avalos’ departure, that he wouldn’t be with the Broncos if not for the coach. He changed his profile photo to one of him and Avalos.

Junior safety DeAndre Pierce said on Twitter that Avalos was “more than a mastermind.”

“He is the sort of guy that the first thing he’ll do is ask us how we think we could improve the defense,” Horton said. “He cares about what we think and what we’re going through. He understands it. You need advice, he gave it right, even it was hard to hear.

“How he knows the game, how much work he puts in thinking about it is amazing. I’m pretty sure the guy doesn’t sleep.”

Neither school had confirmed the news as of Tuesday afternoon. Boise State coach Bryan Harsin is expected to address how the Broncos will handle the change later this week. A message left for Avalos was not returned Tuesday afternoon.