Bryan Harsin hopes to use Boise State football ‘blueprint’ at Arkansas State

Bryan Harsin


By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

I’ll have a Q&A with Arkansas State coach Bryan Harsin in Tuesday’s newspaper. Here are a couple highlights:

— Harsin, a former Boise State quarterback (1995-99) and assistant coach (2001-10) who spent the past two years as the co-offensive coordinator at Texas, has hired seven former Boise State players or coaches for his staff in Jonesboro: Julius Brown, cornerbacks (former Boise State cornerback and player personnel director), Bush Hamdan, quarterbacks (former BSU quarterback), Kent Riddle, assistant head coach/tight ends/special teams (former BSU special teams coach), Thomas Byrd, offensive graduate assistant (former BSU center), Gerald Alexander, defensive graduate assistant (former BSU defensive back), Jeff Pitman, strength coach (former BSU strength coach) and Lee Marks, assistant strength coach (former BSU tailback). Here is the staff so far.

— Harsin’s own connection to Boise State was a big part of Arkansas State’s interest in him. “The Boise State name had been used there quite a bit just because it’s a non-BCS school, there are a lot of similarities,” he said. “A lot of teams want to have that same type of success that Boise’s had. … That Boise State brand, they’ve looked at that model. They’re very interested in it. That was something we talked about quite a bit. That’s a huge part of what we’re doing — that blueprint and foundation is what we’re going to utilize at Arkansas State.”

— Harsin plans to call the plays but wants to be involved with the defensive staff, too. “I will (call plays) until it’s time to not do it,” he said. “Chris (Petersen) let me do it. I’d been right there with him as (an assistant) … I knew how he wanted it and how we were going to do things. … I want to make sure we’re up and running and doing things how we want to do them offensively.”

— The offense will be a blend of what Harsin ran at Boise State and Texas and what Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn ran last year. Harsin retained running backs coach Eliah Drinkwitz and hired Hamdan, which gives the staff a blend of Boise State and Arkansas State concepts. “They were very good in Gus’ offense,” Harsin said. “I went and visited Gus in 2007 and we implemented a portion of that philosophy, the no-huddle stuff (at Boise State). We’ll continue with that but we’ll still have elements of what we were doing at Boise and Texas. We’ll just do it with some tempo.”

— Harsin on Petersen and Texas coach Mack Brown: “The No. 1 thing from both those guys was integrity. That was the main thing. Those two guys, to me, are the most high-integrity guys I’ve been around. They just do it the right way. You can do it that way and you can be successful that way. … The one thing from Pete — I always felt like I knew on a daily basis what our plan was. He always did a great job of communicating. Every time we had a staff meeting or every time we were together, I walked out of there like, ‘I know what I’ve got to do.’ I’ve tried to adopt that with the staff here as well.”

— Harsin, a Capital High grad, told his high school coach he wanted to be a head coach by age 40. He’s 36. “That was probably just a pipe dream, just throwing that one out there,” he said. “Who knew on that.”

— Harsin played for Pokey Allen, Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter at Boise State, including three coaches in three seasons (four if you count interim coach Tom Mason). He’s the third coach in as many years at Arkansas State. He shared that with his players in their first meeting. “I thought I embraced the change of it and I learned something different from each and every one of them — it’s all been positive for me in my football career,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for you to be around new people and grow yourself as a player and a person. They were all nodding their heads and they get it and they’re excited about it.”


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Chadd Cripe has spent the past 12 years as the Boise State football beat writer. You can follow him on Twitter @IDS_BroncoBeat.

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