The Andy Avalos era is in the rearview mirror.
Spencer Danielson has reignited this team and with some luck, now has the chance to bring the Broncos their 4th Mountain West championship.
Bronco great Kellen Moore is currently running the Los Angeles Chargers offense, but the water is choppy with LA second-to-last in the AFC.
Boise State godfather Chris Petersen is enjoying his time off the field as a studio analyst for Fox Sports and not cutting NIL deals left and right.
And in the centerpiece of all these characters is the outsider who has big dreams for Boise State athletics.
Now more than two years into his tenure as the Broncos’ athletic director, Dickey has been nothing short of tremendous when it comes to bringing the athletic department up to speed and being competitive in the modern era of collegiate athletics.
He has passed every obstacle and test thrown down at his feet up to this point.
But now, he faces his biggest challenge yet...
He has to nail this hire.
Dickey was limited in what he could do during the Avalos onboarding.
Not this time.
This will be his guy.
Kellen Moore - Offensive Coordinator, Los Angeles Chargers (NFL)
The golden child.
Many have clamored for it since he began coaching in the NFL. In 2021, Moore did interview for the position, but it never came to fruition.
Could this time be different?
Many, including myself, see this option as a pipe dream that will always be recycled each time the Broncos are looking for a new head coach. Kellen has it made in the NFL, making millions of dollars to create gadget plays such as this one that worked to perfection this weekend.
KELLEN MOORE IN HIS BAG— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) November 27, 2023
WHAT A PLAYCALL
There is no doubt in my mind that if Kellen Moore wants to be the head coach at Boise State, Dickey will find the money to bring him on. Chartering him back to The Blue would evoke such a visceral and emotional reaction from the fanbase that no one else not named Chris Petersen could achieve.
I saw a Twitter dialogue between two individuals that debated the popularity of Kellen Moore from the view of college players today.
I, honestly, couldn’t grasp what I was reading.
Prospects who are contemplating going to Boise State know who Kellen Moore is.
He would absolutely be as much a part of the recruiting pitch as anything else. He has worked with those at the highest level of football and knows what it takes to get your name called on draft night.
Plain and simple, you don’t say no to Kellen Moore.
Spencer Danielson - Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator, Boise State
Emotion and tunnel vision from the fanbase is to be expected. However, Spencer Danielson has thrown a giant wrench into things by bringing this team back from the dead and taking them to Las Vegas this Saturday in an attempt to win a Mountain West title.
Players, former and current, have advocated for Danielson’s hiring as if they are helping him coordinate a political campaign.
Tyreque Jones, JL Skinner, Ahmed Hassenein, DJ Schramm.
The leaders of recent Bronco defenses are all stepping up to the plate to make their voices heard.
This situation feels eerily similar to Broncos of yesteryear that wanted Jeff Choate to be the guy in 2021.
It’s hard for me to believe that Jeramiah Dickey expected Danielson to force his way into the ring when he made him the interim head coach. He is a rising star in the coaching profession and some have likened Danielson to a young Pete Carroll in terms of his high-energy demeanor and knack to chew the heck out of his gum of choice.
Some would call this a present-focused hire, but it could prove major dividends with current players, recruits and a certain wide receiver out of Burley, Idaho, named Gatlin Bair.
Jeff Choate - Co-Defensive Coordinator, Texas
A familiar name in the last cycle, Choate is a player favorite from the Petersen days. When someone utters “blue collar” or “OKG”, he is a face that resonates with what those phrases represent to the Boise State program.
Out of all these guys, Choate has some of the strongest ties to the state of Idaho. Despite being born in Columbus, Ohio, he was raised in St. Maries, Idaho, and coached for seven total years at three schools within Idaho high school football (Challis High School, Twin Falls High School, Post Falls High School).
Five years later, he would join Chris Petersen’s staff as a running backs and special teams coach. Choate made stops at Washington State, Florida and Washington before getting his first shot at being a collegiate head coach at Montana State. He brought the Bobcats to back-to-back FCS playoff appearances in 2018 and 2019, including a trip to the semifinals where they would lose to almighty North Dakota State.
If you are looking to reestablish the Boise of old via toughness, no shortcuts, and a bruising mentality, then Jeff Choate may just be the guy the Broncos are looking for.
Brent Vigen - Head Coach, Montana State (FCS)
Well, what about the current Bobcats head coach?
He has been mentioned in fits and starts, but I don’t see Jeramiah Dickey going to the FCS for this hire.
Boise State doesn’t have to go down that route.
But, Vigen has been around the culture of winning for a large majority of his football career. He was raised in North Dakota and played for the Bison in the late 90s. Once his playing days were over, he joined the NDSU coaching staff and remained there from 1998 to 2013.
The reason his name might ring the bells of some Mountain West fans is that he became the Wyoming offensive coordinator in 2014 and maintained that role until 2020.
During his time in Bozeman, he has compiled a 32-8 record and took the ‘Cats to their first FCS national championship since 1984. He maintained that success in 2022 by reaching the FCS semifinals before falling to South Dakota State.
I respect what Vigen has done with Montana State, but I would be shocked if this is the avenue that Dickey elects to go down.
Bronco Mendenhall - Former Head Coach, BYU/Virginia
“A former BYU Cougar?”
Now before you get in a tizzy, Mendenhall did play at Oregon State and hasn’t been a Provo lifer or anything like that. He did have tremendous success at BYU, leading them to countless seasons where they would finish ranked in every major poll at season’s end.
Aptly nicknamed “Bronco”, the native of Alpine, Utah, has spent a majority of his coaching career out west, venturing east of the Mississippi River twice in his 32-year career (Louisiana Tech and Virginia). Mendenhall spent time under Rocky Long at New Mexico when Brian Urlacher was the “Loboback” and the 3-3-5 defensive scheme was in its infant stages.
Simply put, Bronco Mendenhall has a good head on his shoulders and reminds me a bit of Chris Petersen in how he views football in the context of life. If you want to get a sense of his views towards the world of college football in 2023, I would check out the “HeadCoachU” podcast that he co-host with Fox Sports’ Bryan Fischer.
Specifically, here is the link to the episode where Coach Pete joined Mendenhall and Fischer in October of 2022.
A veteran in the space with plenty of experience, Bronco Mendenhall may be the medicine that Boise State needs to right the ship and reestablish a level of consistency that has been lacking recently.
Ryan Dinwiddie - Head Coach, Toronto Argonauts (CFL)
Even though Kellen Moore gets the spotlight on most lists out on the internet, former Bronco QB Ryan Dinwiddie has made quite a few appearances on Idaho Sports Talk throughout the last calendar year. In those spots, he hasn’t shied away from rumors of him being interested in coming back to The Blue. Essentially, he would listen and be receptive of any interest by his alma mater.
Some (like myself) think of Kellen has the guy who created the standard for QB play at BSU, but Dinwiddie absolutely killed it during his time in Boise. He passed for over 4,000 yards in 2003 along with 28 touchdowns and only five interceptions, giving him the FBS career pass efficiency record before it was eventually broken by Hawaii QB Colt Brennan.
Dinwiddie bounced around the globe when it came to his professional playing career, winding up in Hamburg, Germany, Winnipeg, Canada, and Saskatchewan, Canada. Two years after he retired from playing, he began his coaching career as an offensive assistant with the Montreal Alouettes. After a brief stint as a QB coach in Calgary, Dinwiddie got his first opportunity to be the head man with the Toronto Argonauts in 2020. In 2022, he led the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship (the CFL title). This past year, Dinwiddie built on that success, marching Toronto towards their best record in franchise history with a 16-2 mark.
Through the eyes of an athletic director, the gap between coaching in the Canadian Football League and division one college football is so vast that I don’t believe this has any sustainable traction.
Bryan Harsin - Former Head Coach, Arkansas State/Boise State/Auburn
Hello, old friend.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Petersen disciple and former Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin.
The former Bronco QB is a product of Boise through and through. He went to Capital High School, played on The Blue from 1995-1999, joined the staff in 2001 and didn’t depart until 2010. After being gone for four years, Harsin had the unenviable task of taking over after Chris Petersen left to take the Washington position.
In his first season, he managed to bring Boise State its 3rd Fiesta Bowl win in program history and its first outside of the Chris Petersen era.
Yes, plenty of Coach Pete’s players were on the roster, but give the man his due.
While he wasn’t able to recreate the sparkling, fantastical run that the Broncos had enjoyed in the not-so-distant past, Harsin did maintain a high standard of winning by attaining 10+ wins in five of his seven seasons at the helm.
The end of his tenure in Boise was a bit rocky with emails being sent between he and the athletic department about exploring changing conferences and having the gall to call “Statue Left: Part Two”. To be frank, he saw the writing on the wall that the Broncos were not the de la creme of the Mountain West anymore and that other programs were catching up.
His time on The Plains at Auburn were brutal to say the least. The hiring process was absurd with boosters finagling their way into the inner circle of the athletic department and camps being formed about who should have the final say in this decision.
It was the SEC on full display.
A born-and-raised Idahoan may raise an eyebrow at the theatrics that go on in the football-rich deep south.
Now, Bryan Harsin is back in Boise watching his son, Davis, play his senior season at Eagle High School while repping the blue and orange once again as a fan and alum.
There’s a part of me that wishes Jeramiah Dickey was here when Harsin made his grievances known and wonders what these two could do together considering their like-mindedness in making Boise State a national brand once again.
What’s Going to Happen
It has been confirmed that Dickey and his internal team have met with the finalists.
Plane tracking was a somewhat meaningless task with Boise State utilizing neutral site locations for in-person interviews.
The documentary-esque videos posted on the Broncos’ social media channels have been a nice example of transparency, but we haven’t gleaned a ton of concrete details regarding the who of this national search.
It was made aware on BSU social media accounts that there will be no official update on the search or any decision until after Saturday’s Mountain West title game.
That doesn’t mean that no one will leak it. With the likes of Pete Thamel, Bruce Feldman, Pat Forde, Ross Dellenger, Nicole Auerbach, and Chris Vannini on the national scene and BJ Rains, Jay Tust, Mike Prater and Johnny Mallory within the Boise community, the odds of Boise State keeping this tucked away and sealed until Sunday seems astronomically low.
Whomever Jeramiah Dickey selects, Boise State fans should feel confident in his decision.
Who do you think will be the Broncos’ next head coach?
Let us know in the comments down below!