Playing football for Boise State isn't a requirement to be on the coaching staff, but it sure doesn't hurt. As Boise State announced Bryan Harsin's picks for the coordinator positions yesterday, things took on an awfully home-y feel with two ex-players (and one recently ex-coach) returning to The Blue to log some more wins as Broncos. To start things off, Harsin nabbed a big "get" with new DC Marcel Yates—a Bronco alum and fan favorite who'd slipped away 2 seasons ago to join Texas A&M's staff. The key cog during Boise State's recent "DBU" distinction is a fantastic schemer, excellent teacher, and a tireless recruiter. Just the guy the fan base wanted...and the team needed. Grade: A+
Next up was OC, and with the news of Yates' return early Wednesday, many were uncertain if lightning could strike twice on Harsin's new look staff. Long story short, it did. Harsin again went right were the fan base wanted him to—this time to the farm of Stanford—and pulled away Mike Sanford Jr., another Bronco alum and widely considered to be a rising star in the coaching ranks. If you don't remember Mike Sanford Jr's tenure on The Blue...he was the guy that lost the QB battle to Jared Zabransky in 2004, but who's been steadily climbing the coaching ladder since his graduation. Sanford is considered a top-notch Pac-12 recruiter, an offensive innovator, and an all-around swell guy. Grade: A+
Of course, there have been other hires and retentions this week—all of them with decidedly Bronco ties. Special Teams guru Kent Riddle—the old man in the group—will follow Harsin back to Boise after a stint in Jonesboro on the Arkansas State staff. Riddle coached at Boise State from 2001–2005 and although not an alum (he's an Oregon State grad #irony), Riddle is well-respected in coaching circles and a guy that many were none to happy to see follow Hawk to Colorado back in 2006. Remember "the Riddler"? Boise State's double-dip on Fiesta Bowl trickeration in 2009? That was a bit of Kent Riddle's magic. Grade: A
Boise State also announced the retention of two current coaches—and no surprise here, they're both alums...ex-Bronco linebacker Andy Avalos will stay on staff but move from D-line to the LBs (a natural fit if I do say so) and Scott Huff, a former Bronco O-lineman will hang around and guide the...wait for it...O-line. Things are getting awfully Blorange, no? But WAIT...there's more! Gerald Alexander, prolific Twitter-er(?), Fiesta Bowl I hero and helmet knocker-offer will also be returning "home" to the friendly confines of Bronco Stadium as a graduate assistant OR DBs coach if it suits the powers-that-be. Grades: A's across-the-board
More staff hirings or retentions will be announced in short order...but if you're keeping score, that's 6 of 7 coaches announced that suited up for the Broncos in the last 15-ish years and one other who was present for the beginning of the Broncos "golden era". After a rough couple of weeks in Broncoville, the shine is peeking through the clouds...and it's a brilliant blue and orange.
As we backfill position coach openings, who would you like to see employed at the outset of the Harsin era? Bush Hamdan, Julius Brown, Jeff Pittman and Lee Marks are all still currently at Arkansas State, for the record.