From the coaching staff’s use of Twitter to the Bronco Blitz recruiting push to the Bronco Invasion marketing push, Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin has tried to cut out the middle man.
“The most important thing — and we talk about this with our staff — is being on the same page,” Harsin said Wednesday night in Ammon, as he completed the fifth of six days of the Invasion’s fan and sponsor meetings around the state. “This is no different. This is letting everybody know this is what our plan is, this is what we’re trying to do and accomplish. We’re trying to leave as many stones not unturned and let people peek into what we want to do so they understand it better.”
Harsin completed the Invasion on Thursday with events in Idaho Falls and Pocatello.
“I’ve learned just getting outside and hitting other areas and pockets of Idaho that we have a lot of support in those areas,” he said. “Getting out there and talking to them and being around them makes a difference. That support will be shown. That support will grow. And it’s something that was needed because there are a lot of questions out there that we may have answered a while back but we hadn’t quite gotten to some of those people and they needed to be answered. I think it put a lot of minds at ease in some areas.”
The Idaho Falls fans provided one of the top highlights of the Invasion on Wednesday when about 750 showed up for a public meet-and-greet at McCowin Park in Ammon. A section of the park was painted blue.
“The turnout was fantastic,” Harsin said. “The grass painted blue with the orange end zones — you see that the people put a lot of time into it and thought and were excited about having Boise State come out here. That obviously energizes us and that’s what it’s all about. We just want to say thank you and let them know that they’re important.”
Harsin felt it was important to reach out to fans and sponsors during the coaching transition and reassure them.
Speaking to the crowd in Ammon, he said, “Some things have happened at Boise State, but we’re going to be OK.”
“It’s an opportunity to hear it from us, rather than second hand,” Harsin said. “ I’ve seen a lot of people excited about the season, a lot of people who are excited to see these new guys, these new faces we have on our team, play this year. They’re excited about the staff and some different things that we’re doing. Also, that exciting uncertainty of what’s about to happen as the season approaches.”
Among Harsin’s favorite events: the meet-and-greet in Ammon, the autograph signing at the Magic Valley Mall in Twin Falls, the Nampa Chamber of Commerce’s Night of Excellence and business visits to Roady’s Truck Stops in New Plymouth and Ore-Ida in Ontario, Ore.
He’s unsure if he’ll do something like this next year.
“Maybe it’s going to be different,” he said. “ Are we going to do it every year? I wouldn’t say that right now, but I’d say it is the time to do it and it was the right thing to do in my opinion and the way these guys set it up it was done the right way.”
Harsin worked throughout the Invasion. He watched video on his iPad in the evenings and worked his phone in the truck on the road. He watched recruiting videos on his phone and consulted with his assistants about scholarship offers.
Head coaches were not able to go on the road for recruiting.
“I still watch film every night — keep the main thing the main thing,” he said. “The goal is to win games, so we’re still watching our opponents and the things we did in the spring. And preparing for summer camps. Nothing’s changed. This has just been added to what we’re doing.”
Spring recruiting ends Friday. The staff will meet Friday except for offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, who is recruiting right into the final hours. The summer conditioning program begins Monday.
“We’re going to concentrate on getting ourselves started right in the summer,” Harsin said. “We’re going to concentrate on the camps that we have. That’s important for us.”
Harsin said he’s still waiting for final word on the eligibility of defensive tackle Antoine Turner, who finished his junior college classes last week. The hope is to have Turner on campus this weekend. Turner gained national attention earlier this month when the school sought, and received, NCAA permission to house him and feed him before he arrived in Boise because he was homeless.
David Kinard, the Boise State associate athletic director for development, said a recent survey of 2,000 ticket-buying customers didn’t produce any surprises.
“A lot of stuff that we already knew,” he said. “Game times are hurting us, with the late game times. We understand that. TV hurts and helps us at the same time. There are some areas where we can improve on customer service, both in the (Bronco Athletic Association) and the ticket office. We’re going to try to increase contact between the athletic department and season-ticket holders throughout the year so they’re not just seeing a bill from us.”
Kinard said the survey provided “a baseline” for the athletic department to evaluate its efforts to improve.
Season-ticket sales dropped about 1,700 last year. They’re off-pace by about 2,000 more this year.
“We aren’t (worried) just because we have a great home schedule this year,” Kinard said. “There’s a lot of excitement with the coach. What we have noticed in the past, though, is a lot of people wait till the middle of August. That first game is always pivotal for us as well.”
Schools sending their coaches to work out-of-state camps has become a hot-button issue in college football this week. Here is a Yahoo Sports story on the trend.
Last week, I reported here that Boise State coaches will work camps in Texas, California, Washington and Utah this summer.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.