By Brian Murphy
Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier doesn't sleep much this time of the year. With the coaching rumor mill churning faster than ever — and Boise State coach Chris Petersen and his assistants mentioned for nearly every job opening in the country — Bleymaier is well aware of the potential for schools coming after his coaches.
"I haven’t slept in 15 years," Bleymaier joked. "It’s always there. You always know that that’s a possibility. It beats the alternative."
The Broncos' athletic director since 1981, Bleymaier has watched football head coaches Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter and Dan Hawkins leave for jobs with BCS-conference teams. Last year, Tennessee hired defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox with a lucrative three-year contract.
And of course there is interest in Petersen, who is 60-5 as the Broncos' coach. Petersen said last week that at least one school has contacted him, but he has not had any discussions about leaving Boise State.
"My whole thing is we've got a great situation here. It's all about, just like in recruiting, being at the right fit. Who knows what happens down the road, but I know we have a good thing here and I don't take that for granted," Petersen said.
Bleymaier is aware of the interest.
"I’m sure his name is going to be mentioned every year," he said.
But his focus is on making improvements to the Broncos' program. The Broncos have an ambitious stadium expansion project under way that includes new football locker rooms.
Boise State has bumped Petersen's salary up to $1.49 million this year with built-in raises to push it to $1.89 million in 2015. But the Broncos cannot compete on a salary level with teams in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida coach Urban Meyer resigned Wednesday, prompting Petersen's name to once again be mentioned for a a high-profile job. Meyer made more than $4 million in 2010.
(Here is USA Today's awesome breakdown of what all 120 FBS head coaches were paid in 2010.)
"We need to keep improving the program and adding onto our program each year and just continuing to build it. That’s all we can do," Bleymaier said. "We don’t want to stand still. We don’t want to stay or become stagnant. We want to keep getting better and that’s our goal, that’s our priority and that’s really what we need to keep doing, keep improving and keep trying to get better."
The program is certainly at a different level than it was in 2005, when Hawkins left for Colorado and Petersen was promoted from offensive coordinator. In that span, Boise State has won two Fiesta Bowls and was in contention for another BCS berth and a spot into the national championship game until a late-season loss to Nevada. Quarterback Kellen Moore is one of four finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
"You’re into the 12th, 13th week of the season and you’re playing for a national championship and your quarterback is a Heisman Trophy candidate. That’s about all you can ask for as a coach," Bleymaier said. "We’re definitely in a different spot than we were 10 years ago."
That doesn't mean other schools are going to stop trying. Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said Saturday that schools have contacted him, though he said Texas was not one of them. The Longhorns
are expected to make a big push for Harsin, a Boise native and former Boise State quarterback, after the Broncos' Dec. 22 bowl game.
"When you’ve got attractive coaches, there’s always going to be temptations and always going to be people out there interested in them. There’s always that element," Bleymaier said. "Coach Pete has put together the best coaching staff in the country. Kudos to him for that. And we’re just trying to help him keep those guys."
WAC, MWC coaching salaries
This info is from the USA Today's awesome breakdown of what all 120 FBS head coaches were paid in 2010:
Gary Patterson, TCU $1.62 million
Chris Petersen, Boise State $1.48 million
Kyle Whittingham, Utah $1.17 million
Greg McMackin, Hawaii $1.10 million
Pat Hill, Fresno State $952,000
Dave Christensen, Wyoming $861,000
Mike Locksley, New Mexico $750,000
Troy Calhoun, Air Force $725,000
Steve Fairchild, Colorado State $700,000
Brady Hoke, San Diego State $675,000
Bobby Hauck, UNLV $500,000
Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech $450,000
Chris Ault, Nevada, $443,000
Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State $401,000
DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State $375,000
Robb Akey, Idaho $355,000
Gary Andersen, Utah State $352,000
Bronco Mendenhall, BYU Not reported
A few thoughts:
• Ault is underpaid. Locksley is overpaid.
• Hoke has already agreed to a new contract. Hill will make less under the terms of his new three-year deal.
• You can see the clear dividing line between the Mountain West and the WAC. Even the lowest-paid coaches in the Mountain West make more than the bulk of WAC coaches (Petersen, McMackin and Hill aside).
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