By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
Former Boise State quarterback and assistant coach Bryan Harsin was introduced as the new football coach at Arkansas State on Wednesday.
Harsin, a Capital High graduate, is believed to be the first Treasure Valley product to get a head coaching job in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
Former Capital coach Steve Vogel remembers talking to Harsin about his career aspirations when Harsin told him he was going to walk on at Boise State in 1995.
“He said then his goal was to be a head college football coach by the time he was 40 — and he beat that,” Vogel said.
Harsin, 36, was a reserve quarterback for the Broncos from 1995 to 1999. He was an offensive graduate assistant in 2001, the tight ends coach under Dan Hawkins from 2002 to 2005 and the offensive coordinator under Chris Petersen from 2006 to 2010.
He spent the past two seasons as the co-offensive coordinator and play caller for Texas.
Harsin said his Boise State background will be a big part of his philosophy as a head coach.
“I understand the blueprint we used there,” he said at his press conference in Jonesboro, Ark. “The beliefs I've developed over time come from Boise State.
“… This is an opportunity I've prepared myself for for a long time, and it feels good.”
Harsin received a five-year, $3.5 million contract. His buyout is $1.75 million in the first year and $1 million in the second year. The last two Arkansas State coaches left after one season for jobs in the SEC — Hugh Freeze to Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn to Auburn.
Harsin’s hire is the latest promotion for the accomplished coaching staff Petersen assembled in 2006, his first season as a head coach and the year the Broncos beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Here’s the list:
Harsin, offensive coordinator — Arkansas State head coach
Justin Wilcox, defensive coordinator — Washington, defensive coordinator
Sean Kugler, offensive line/assistant head coach — UTEP, head coach
Jeff Choate, running backs/special teams — Washington State, linebackers (reported to be the next defensive coordinator at UTEP)
Pete Kwiatkowski, defensive line — Boise State, defensive coordinator
Brent Pease, wide receivers — Florida, offensive coordinator
Marcel Yates, defensive backs — Texas A&M, co-defensive coordinator
Scott Huff, tight ends — Boise State, tight ends/special teams
Viliami Tuivai, linebackers — out of college coaching
For most of those nine assistants, the job at Boise State was the height of their career when they were hired. Harsin and Wilcox were both 29-year-old, first-time coordinators.
“(Petersen) hit a home run with those guys,” Huff said of the staff. “He’s done a great job leading everybody and showing them the way. … What better role model than Coach Pete.”
Added Kwiatkowski: “That’s why he’s the head coach. He makes good decisions. … He starts with the kind of guys they are. All of the assistants are good guys, great guys to be around, whether working or not. And then hard workers. Very knowledgeable. And they’re experts at what they do and they just work their tails off.”
On Harsin and Kugler, Huff said: “Everybody believes that they’ll do a great job and I don’t know why they wouldn’t.”
Speaking of Wilcox, Huff and Kwiatkowski are two of his close friends. They’ll clash next week in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.
“It’s going to be fun,” Kwiatkowski said. “I went fishing with Justin last summer and I don’t think football came up one time. We’re still good friends and this is one game we’re going to be competitors.”
Said Huff: “He’s one of my best friends. As soon as we found out we were going to be playing each other, I think we were trading texts within the minute. At some point in your career you’re going to play your friends and hopefully make the most of the opportunities. It will be a good challenge.”
I’ll have more on Wilcox next week.