After seven seasons at Boise State, Bryan Harsin has reportedly accepted the head coaching job at Auburn. Harsin amassed a 69-19 record with the Broncos including a Fiesta Bowl win and three Mountain West Conference championships. He is also responsible for a noticeable uptick in recruiting during his seven years with the program.
Bryan Harsin was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. He played his high school football at Capital High and was Boise State’s backup quarterback from 1995 – 1999. He first appeared on the Broncos coaching staff in 2001 as a Graduate Assistant under Dan Hawkins. He went on to coach tight ends for Boise State until he was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach under Chris Petersen in 2006.
In 2011, Harsin left Idaho to expand his coaching knowledge. His expressed goal was to return to Boise State as the head coach when the job became available. He would do just that. After two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Texas, Harsin replaced Gus Malzahn as the head coach at Arkansas State. After just one season at Arkansas State, the head coaching position at Boise State came open, and Harsin jumped at the opportunity to return home.
Harsin was named the Broncos head coach on December 11th, 2013. His arrival brought a jolt of energy to the program. He hired fan favorites at the coordinator positions, Mike Sanford and Marcel Yates respectively. He also brought a renewed enthusiasm in recruiting and branding to the football program. He was active on social media and his “Embrace the Past, Attack the Future” mantra was a hit amongst fans, former players, and alumni alike.
He also won. After a depressing 8 – 5 season in 2013, Harsin led the Broncos back to the Fiesta Bowl where Boise State would beat Arizona for their third major bowl victory. In the six seasons since the Fiesta Bowl run, Harsin and the Broncos were consistently good, but failed to quite regain the magic of that first season.
Losing assistant after assistant didn’t help with consistency, and Harsin also felt bootstrapped by the Mountain West Conference. In recent years, Harsin was more and more vocal about his displeasure with the support that the conference showed its members. In 2020, those complaints were amplified further surrounding the Mountain West’s response to the COVID crisis.
Harsin’s frustration didn’t solely lie with the conference. He was frustrated with the commitment, progress, and mentality of the University as well. At the end of 2019 season he gave what amounted to an ultimatum, saying:
“I don’t know if there’s a lot of other people that Bleed Blue as much as I do and that’s important. This place is important, we’ve built this, and I like to be a part of that, and I enjoy that, and I like to see where we have a chance to go. But at the same time, we have to keep building, we have to keep growing. Settling for the same ole same ole is not the mentality and that’s not what Boise State was ever built on was that type of mindset.”
“If we decide we want to settle, settling is not a place that I want to be. If we want to get better, then I’m all about that. If we want to grow and develop and put ourselves in a position where we can take that next step like we need to, with the type of opponents we’re about to play moving forward, then those are the type of places that you want to be a part of”
It seems that Bryan Harsin was not confident that the program was moving in the right direction, or at least not confident enough to turn down what will assuredly be a raise of well over twice his Boise State salary. With a new President and an Athletic Director hire remaining to be made, Boise State is at a crossroads. Bryan Harsin will take over the coaching duties from Gus Malzahn again, and Boise State will be looking to make the perfect hire to advance the standard at Boise State.