December 11, 2013, 10 years ago today: Bryan Harsin becomes the first former Boise State player to be named head coach of the Broncos when he’s announced as Chris Petersen’s successor.Harsin, a Boise native and Capital High graduate, played at Boise State from 1996-99 and was an assistant coach for the Broncos from 2001-10, the last five of those seasons as Petersen’s offensive coordinator. He then served as O-coordinator at Texas for two years before becoming head coach at Arkansas State in 2013.
During Harsin’s time as backup quarterback at Boise State, he played for four different coaches: Pokey Allen (who died after Harsin’s second season), interim coach Tom Mason, Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter. Harsin experienced the 2-10 season in 1996, and then was part of the senior class that emerged from the darkness and won Boise State’s first Division I-A conference championship in 1999. He took the final snaps in the Broncos’ title-clinching 45-14 win over Idaho at Martin Stadium in Pullman.
Harsin was about as trusted a coach on the offensive side of the ball as the Broncos have ever had. He schemed with Coach Pete when the latter was Boise State offensive coordinator, and Petersen thought so highly of Harsin that he was elevated to O-coordinator as soon as Pete was named head coach. At the age of 29. The next five years were fairly unbelievable, with two Fiesta Bowl wins and a 61-5 record that included the first three seasons of Kellen Moore’s run.
Following Petersen was a thankless job. Harsin did continue the Broncos’ dominant ways, though, winning the 2014 Fiesta Bowl with a 12-2 record. He coached his alma mater for seven seasons, dealing with high fan expectations throughout. Harsin’s teams had only one four-loss season and won three Mountain West championships, and his career record at Boise State was 69-19. A clash with the Mountain West in September of 2020 became known later that year. Harsin said in emails to president Marlene Tromp and then-athletic director Curt Apsey that Boise State needed to leave the Mountain West as soon as possible, decrying what he felt was the conference’s lack of support for its members.
It was in December of 2020 that Harsin left the Mountain West (and Boise State). Three days after the Broncos’ loss to San Jose State in the MW title game, he accepted the head coaching job at Auburn. It was not a match made in heaven. Harsin was seen as an outsider from the get-go, and when the Tigers started losing games, boosters all but sabotaged him. He finished with a 9-12 record and, after being fired on Halloween last year, moved back to the Treasure Valley with his family. Harsin was able to watch his son, Davis, quarterback Eagle High during a successful senior season this fall while he continues to plot his next move.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)