Notes, quotes and video as Boise State’s new football coaches meet the media

The Riddle video is short because my phone ran out of memory.

By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman

Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and associate head coach/special teams coach Kent Riddle held a press conference Wednesday.

Bryan Harsin

— The Broncos still have not announced wide receivers coach Junior Adams, but Harsin said the 10 full-time coaches have met as a group. “We do have some really good buzz going,” Harsin said. The coaches can go out recruiting Jan. 16 and they’ll hold the first team meeting of 2014 on Jan. 20. “It will be a great night for those (coaches),” Harsin said. “I know the team is excited about it. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the team.”

— “The next 30 days are extremely important for us once we get out on the road and we have official visit weekends.”

— “The one thing that we’ve seen is just the Boise State brand, it’s one thing that is very powerful. That’s one thing these coaches have been really excited about, the opportunities we’re having in recruiting because of that.”

— On QB recruiting: “The numbers that we want to have, we need to grow that (roster). We’re obviously going to take a quarterback. We’ll be in a good position to do that.

— On offense: “We know what we want to do and who we want to be.” Pressed for details, he said: “I hope we’re the best executing offense in the country. Where it goes from there — tempo, movement — we’ll decide that. It starts with execution.”

— On whether Grant Hedrick opens spring ball as the No. 1 quarterback: “You can say that. Naturally, he’s going to be the first one.”

— On his familiarity with Hedrick, a guy he recruited and coached: “The easiest thing to do is to watch a guy go out there and you can see his size, you can see his strength, you can see if he’s a good football player. The hard part is figuring out who he is. I know who he is. It was very easy to connect with him when I got the job. I think he was the first one I called. He was excited, I was excited, because we had a history there. I spent a lot of time with him.”

— On Sanford and Yates: “I’ve been around coach Yates and I’ve seen that firsthand, so his resume has been right next to me. That was an easy, no-brainer. Mike Sanford, I’ve followed him. I tried to hire him at Arkansas State. He was one of my first calls. … He knows and I know there’s something special about this place here. That was about a 5 minute conversation before it was, ‘Yeah, I want to do that.’ ”

— On last year’s offense: “It was well thought out and installed and implemented the right way. Are there some schematic differences we’ll do, maybe some different philosophy when it comes to certain things? Yeah. Does that mean they did anything bad or anything we do is better? No.”

— Sanford will call the plays. Harsin will be involved in the game planning and coaching of the quarterbacks.

Mike Sanford

— He and his wife spoke before last season and decided the only way they would leave Stanford after the season would be for a job at Boise State. “We believe in this place. We’re really excited about the future here.” Harsin tried to hire him last year at Arkansas State. Sanford spent 2 hours on the phone with him on Christmas night. “It was certainly something that I thought about,” Sanford said. “… The thing that made it really intriguing to me was coach Harsin.”

— “The cornerstones of the Boise State offense are a physical, downhill running game and an attacking offense. We’re going to take our opportunities to throw the ball downfield. The other thing that has been the brand of Boise State offenses has been creativity and multiplicity. … Also just being able to mesh different worlds of offense together, to be on the cutting edge of creativity and the cutting edge of how you use your personnel.”

— On being the Boise State offensive coordinator: “I have a lot of respect for that job. … It’s the best school to coach at in college football. There’s great responsibility that comes with this position.”

— On the chance to run his own offense: “It means a lot. It’s humbling. Especially when you’re around guys on that offensive staff that you respect a lot. Coach Riddle, I played here (when he was a coach) and he’s one of the best football coaches I’ve ever been around. Scott Huff, he was the senior captain when I was a sophomore.”

— “I bet coach (Chris) Petersen was getting tired of his cell phone blowing up (with his calls when jobs were open). This has been a dream for me. This place really formed me. I think this place really has that destination feel for me as a football coach. … Any time anybody left, I tried to get on. One thing that was challenging — once I did get back to Stanford, I was in a pretty good situation. After one year, two years, I didn’t feel I needed to go somewhere else.”

— On what Stanford coach David Shaw told him: “It was hard. I went into his office. I was nervous about it. I wanted to finish well. I went in and talked to him and he lit up like a Christmas tree. He was so excited. He calls me a ‘Boise guy.’ His quote to me was, ‘Mike, this program means so much to you. There’s nothing like returning to your alma mater to coach.’ He knows that firsthand. You see that in the way he approaches that job. It’s so much more special to him because he’s lived it.”

— Sanford, 31, texted Harsin before Harsin got the job. “I’d really like to catch up pretty soon,” he told Harsin. “We were speaking in codes,” Sanford said. “I knew when he got the job it would be something I was going to pursue.”

Marcel Yates

— “This is my second home. … It was real easy for me when I got the call from coach Harsin. For me, it’s all about my family. Having my wife from here … she already had our bags packed.”

— On leaving Texas A&M and coach Kevin Sumlin after two years: “He knew my goals. ‘If you come help me win in the SEC, I will help you become a defensive coordinator.’ When I got the call and went into his office, he knew exactly what I wanted to do. For me, it’s not about the conference or the team, it was time for me to do a certain job.”

— “The style of defense we’re going to install remains to be seen. I will say this — it will be physical, tough, disciplined, and we’re going to play hard.”

— He doesn’t expect major changes from the defense run by Pete Kwiatkowski. The two worked together at Montana State and Boise State. “He teaches a lot of things I teach,” Yates said.

— On his role coaching a position: “I’ll be all over the place but I feel sorry for (defensive backs coach Julius Brown). It’s always hard for a guy to take over the position you coach. … I’ll get on his nerves.”

— On Boise State having a down defensive year in 2013: “That’s tough for me because those are my friends, my mentors. I wasn’t here to see what went wrong or went right. … To me, I had my own problems at A&M. We weren’t real good on defense. … I always thought as a coach if one side of the ball wasn’t playing well then they had bad coaches, and that’s not always true. I felt like at A&M we had a good staff and for some reason we struggled on defense.”

Kent Riddle

— “It’s an honor and privilege to be back here. A great feeling. Obviously I had a great five years here earlier (2001-05) — easily the most successful stop in my career. I’m proud to be part of the past but ready to attack the future.”

— On Harsin at Arkansas State: “All the things everybody expected to see — a guy with a tremendous vision, a passion, a plan to win, a play to grow a program. Goals. And a guy players respect but can relate to, a guy that coaches enjoy working for. And probably more than anything a champion.”

— On Jay Ajayi (Riddle will coach running backs): “He’s obviously a special talent. I can’t wait to work with him. I had the good fortune last time I was here of coaching some great backs … guys like Brock Forsey, David Mikell, Ian Johnson. Those guys are part of the foundation of the running back program here. Hopefully we can (Ajayi) to be the best yet.”

— On going to Colorado in 2006 with Dan Hawkins: “We knew the roster was stocked (at Boise State). Shoot, I’ll tell you, the first day we were at Colorado we said, ‘Boise State has way more talent than these guys and they just played in the Big 12 championship game.’ ”

— He consulted with his successors at Boise State, Jeff Choate (2006-11) and Scott Huff (2012-13) on a “season to season basis.”

— “We will play our best players on special teams and we will play fast and play with great effort and we will hit. Our goal every game is to create big plays and to score.”

— The Hammer, started by Choate in 2006, will remain. “That will be a big part of what we do,” Riddle said.

— On the past few days, which included a bowl win at Arkansas State on Sunday. “Hectic. Fun. Awesome. Not much sleep. But it was a great run at Arkansas State — a short one, but a great one. … And then to be able to hop on a plane and come to a place where we know we will do big things here. Our goal is to just keep growing the program.”

— On what he learned from the Colorado struggles: “Something Hawk used to say here all the time — it’s really the institution that’s the championship institution and it’s the culture that’s instilled in the program. Boise State has it. And we were trying to duplicate that at Colorado. That’s the one thing you learn, that you can’t necessarily try to duplicate some things. … Maybe the biggest lesson of all is this is a special place and run by special people.”

— On the offensive staff: “We’ve got plenty of experience and a lot of different ways of doing everything. We’ll have a good plan. We’ll be an attacking offense and we’ll have some fun.”

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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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