Bronco Beat

Oregon may be interested in Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin: is it a fit?

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin, seen here Friday during the loss at Air Force, has been mentioned as a possible candidate at Oregon.
Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin, seen here Friday during the loss at Air Force, has been mentioned as a possible candidate at Oregon.

It is the first week after the regular season for most college football teams, so you know what that means: the coaching carousel. And as usual, a Boise State coach has his name being tossed around plenty.

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was officially fired Tuesday, and almost immediately, Boise State’s Bryan Harsin was mentioned as a possible candidate. Again, and again, and again.

Harsin did not hold his usual Tuesday news conference since the Broncos are off this week, and he was out recruiting. He likely will speak Sunday when the Broncos find out their bowl destination. Like Chris Petersen before him, Harsin surely would at least listen to any potential suitors, but would he be a fit at Oregon?


▪ As a head coach, he is 38-13 in four seasons at two schools. The guy can coach, and his teams win.

▪ Harsin is an energetic presence and a strong recruiter. He has won 31 games at Boise State with quite a few of Petersen’s recruits, but among the ones Harsin brought in are running back Jeremy McNichols, quarterback Brett Rypien, wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, cornerback Tyler Horton, safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner, defensive tackle David Moa and running back Alexander Mattison.

▪ He knows the territory as a Boise native and one who recruits similar areas where Oregon has found success in the Northwest, California and Texas. Eighty-eight players on the Broncos’ roster are from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California and Texas.

▪ Slated to make $1.55 million in 2017 with a $1.75 million buyout that drops to $500,000 next year, money would be no issue if Oregon really wants Harsin. Helfrich made about $3.5 million per season, so Harsin would be in for a pay raise. After Oregon buys out Helfrich for $11.6 million, even if Harsin would make more, he still might be a more affordable option than some names out there.

▪ At many positions, Harsin has hired strong assistants, with three of his former coordinators already having moved on to Power Five jobs: offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz to North Carolina State, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to Notre Dame and defensive coordinator Marcel Yates to Arizona. With deeper pockets, he could make some home run hires. The awful Oregon defense could use some help, current defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has done quite well, or would they go get former Duck and former Bronco assistant Justin Wilcox from Wisconsin?


▪ Harsin has yet to undertake a rebuild in his head coaching career. He’ll get credit for keeping the Broncos on track after Petersen left, as he should, but Oregon’s rebirth won’t be immediate. He won’t inherit the sort of talent he did when Petersen left.

▪ A former Petersen assistant, that experience can’t hurt, but would Oregon, no friend of Washington, want to follow the same template? And would Harsin want to recruit and coach against his good friend year after year?

▪ At Boise State, Harsin enjoys a sort of control over the program he may not enjoy at a Power Five program, especially one like Oregon where boosters such as Nike founder Phil Knight have a lot of pull. He did spend two seasons at Texas, as big of a pressure cooker as there is in the sport. Would he still be able to be a play-caller? At times this season, it was messy.

▪ Harsin has lost six conference games in his three years, as many as Petersen did in eight years, though the Mountain West is an upgrade from the WAC. His overall record is great, as is his performance against Power Five teams, but it could be a negative that the Broncos haven’t won the games that truly matter. They haven’t won their division in two of Harsin’s three years.

▪ Even though he is a Boise native and played at Boise State, few think Harsin will stay forever. That being said, he has a good thing going, and perhaps like Petersen, is waiting for the perfect fit. In a story posted on Football Scoop on Wednesday, it said “Harsin is in a rhythm at Boise, one he can maintain for a long time. Coaches we have spoken with aren’t so sure the upside is worth the risk associated with this move.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_southorn