There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth after Andy Avalos was lured out of his DC chair by Oregon, and it’d been an interesting couple of weeks as the Broncos conducted their search for his replacement. Would they go with a proven FCS DC looking to make a move? Perhaps lure another G5 coordinator from a competitor ala Zak Hill? Hey, maybe they’d loot the SEC assistant pool as G5 clubs are known to do. At any rate, they should act fairly quickly with spring ball under way, right?
Wellll. The Broncos went the perhaps safe route and decided not to upturn their blue and orange applecart and promoted newly-minted LBs and Special Teams coach Jeff Schmedding to defensive coordinator, then made the extra eye-raising decision to tag another up-and-coming defensive coach as his co-coordinator—Spencer Danielson. Okay, so this wasn’t exactly a super out-of-the-box hire, but in the interest of continuity, it makes a lot of sense. I’ll explain.
Firstly, Schmedding does have defensive coordinator experience, as he was the DC at Eastern Washington for four years and on staff with the Eagles for 15 total. Eastern Washington made an FCS championship appearance last season against juggernaut North Dakota State with Schmedding in the DC chair, so he’s certainly no slouch. All told, the Eagles made 10 FCS playoff appearances while Schmedding was on staff...including a national title in 2010. He’s not a household name, and EWU isn’t necessarily known for their defense (it’s more their offense and johnny-come-lately non-green turf), but you don’t make the playoffs or title games with bad defense, and he’ll have a lot more talent to work with in Boise.
Secondly, Spencer Danielson as co-DC is probably the more intriguing part of this whole move. Danielson is young coach that Bryan Harsin pretty much plucked form obscurity, but he’s seen fit to fast-track his career from GA (2017), to STUDs coach (2018), to D-line (2019) to co-DC (yeah, also 2019). If Harsin believes in this dude this much...I think I shall start believing as well. Also, in ghosts.
Lastly, since we’re technically down a coach, Bryan Harsin has brought on long-time Clemson staffer Zac Alley as an extra LBs coach. Alley had spent the last 8 seasons at Clemson—the last four as a GA and had just accepted the nickels coaching job at Charlotte late last month. Alas, Boise State is a better gig and here he is. Harsin knows the young, energetic coaches like Danielson and now Alley resonate with the players and if Alley has a good enough pedigree to be recommended by Dabo Swinney, I think this hire will pay dividends as well.
So there you have it. No more guessing—no more shuffling, our long national nightmare is over. The staff is (hopefully) set for the remainder of spring and fall camps and time will tell if they were the right pieces to move around the board. With a coaching tree that gets pruned as much as Harsin’s, he must be doing something right.