By Chadd Cripe
© 2013 Idaho Statesman
Notes and quotes from new Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin’s introduction Friday (video to come — and I’m adding to this as fast as I can):
— Harsin: “It feels great to be home. It is truly a privilege and honor to stand here before you today as the next head coach at Boise State.”
— He immediately thanked his wife but tried not to look at her to keep his emotions in check: “We started this journey here over 15 years ago — and what a journey it’s been. … I know I don’t say it enough, so I’ll say it now: ‘Thank you.’ I would not be here without you and I’m not going to look at you because we won’t make it through this if I do.”
— Harsin: (Athletic Director Mark Coyle) did a great job in this search. His team did a wonderful job of keeping everything close to the vest and you guys know that. By no means did I ever pull my name out of this search (as was reported by some websites). That’s pretty obvious right now.”
— Harsin: “When I left, it was one of the hardest things me and my family had to do. The primary motivation in me leaving was to go out and develop myself as a coach, develop myself as a person, to hopefully some day have a chance to come back here as a head coach if that was ever a possibility. I had no idea it would happen this soon.”
— Harsin thanked Arkansas State and the players there: “It was one of the hardest things I had to do to walk into that room and tell them I was taking another job. I wanted to make sure I had a chance to see them face to face, shake their hands and thank every single one of them for the impact they had on my life. They understood why I had to be at Boise State. I explained that to them and they were tremendous.”
— Harsin: “Chris Petersen, it goes without saying, Chris has had a tremendous influence on my life. He did some unbelievable things here and he did it the right way. He gave me an opportunity. He believed in me and I’m very fortunate to call him my friend and I appreciate him very much.”
— Harsin: “Now that all the warm and fuzzy stuff is out of the way, I do want to make something very clear. Today is not about me. Today is about Boise State. Today is about this program. I didn’t take this job to come home. I did not take this job to have a family reunion. Don’t get me wrong — those things are nice. I took this job because Boise State is an elite program with tremendous potential and I took this job because Boise State is a national brand and because I know the inner workings and process and the people, most importantly.”
— Harsin: “This program is bigger than any one person. People come and go and this program continues to get better. We’ll always embrace the past, but we’re going to attack the future. Our past will fuel our success. It will drive us to even higher goals to achieve. We’ll have a sense of urgency in everything we do. The football facility will operate like it’s fourth-and-1.”
— Harsin spoke to the team Friday morning. “I could see the excitement in their eyes. I could see the Boise in their eyes. It got me fired up and I can’t wait to get started with them.” He told the team they have two things to do right now — finish strong academically and win their bowl game. “Whatever happens staff-wise, your first impression with this new staff will be academically,” Harsin told them. “That will be the first thing that will come up. … You need to continue to prepare (for the bowl game). These coaches that are here know what they’re doing, they know how to do it. They’re going to take care of you. They’re going to give you every opportunity to win the game. It’s up to you guys to have the mindset to go do it. We’ve got to put together a staff. We’ve got to continue with our recruiting process. I’m going to be doing one thing; you’re going to be doing another. I’ll be in contact with you guys. You’ll know what’s going on.’ ”
— Harsin arrived late Thursday night and deviated from the original plan to go into the Bleymaier Football Complex. “The Internet pictures can only do so much,” he said.
— Harsin: “This program has been known for toughness, preparation, discipline, fundamentally sound football and creativity. That’s not going to change under my watch. But our style is our style and it’s a Boise thing and I’m looking forward to implementing that and getting back involved in that.”
— Harsin does not have a timeline for hiring his staff. “When it’s right,” he said.
— On the offense: “Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to come in here and look under the hood at exactly what’s going on. I’ve been through this a couple of times. At Texas, it was a complete overhaul from scratch. … When I took the job at Arkansas State, having a chance to be there, they played in a late bowl game, I was a fly on the wall. I watched how they operated, how they met, how they were taught. And we came in there and we started to blend it so there was some familiarity. … There are a lot of things here that I am familiar with. That hasn’t changed. My goal over the next couple of days is to watch practice and see how it’s operated. I know from a schematic standpoint what I believe. It starts with running the football … big-play opportunities that change the field position. Matchups. And having a little bit of fun.”
— Harsin was heavily involved in the offense at Arkansas State. He began as the play caller but backed out of that so he could spread his time more across the team. “I can do that and it’s something I enjoy doing,” he said of calling plays. “I love coaching the quarterback — that’s the one thing. I spent a lot of time developing a process for teaching the position. Calling plays? I haven’t decided. To me, that’s all about the staff you hire.”
— Harsin on giving up calling plays: “Because I needed to be on the other side of the ball. One of the things I wanted when I took the job at Arkansas State is I didn’t want to be the 50-yard line coach … peeking your head over there saying, ‘Defense is good.’ I felt like I was doing that. I was so heavily involved in the offense that I needed to get over there and establish an attitude on the defensive side. … It took some time to figure out our way. I was able to install (the offense), walk away, let them implement it and they spent the entire week preparing for it. … And then we started winning games.”
— How long did it take Harsin to think of what it could mean for him when Petersen left? “A millisecond. Probably the biggest thing — I didn’t stop thinking about it right after that happened.”
— Harsin on his Monday interview: “I was really hoping to walk out of there with a handshake and a job. So, no, I wasn’t feeling really good. I’m pretty critical of myself. Kes will tell you this — I’m on the phone, ‘Oh, man, I don’t know about this.’ She’s like, ‘Just be quiet. You always do this. Shut up and get home.’ ”
— Harsin: “This program personally has changed my life. It’s made me who I am today. It’s made my family and our relationships where they are today. It’s built the relationships I was able to build when I left because of Boise State. So as far as the dream of this … all I wanted to do is get back here and do for this program what it’s done for me.”
— Six coaches interviewed for the job: Harsin, Justin Wilcox, Dirk Koetter, Bob Gregory, Chris Strausser and Scott Frost (Oregon offensive coordinator).
— President Bob Kustra said Harsin wanted the job the most.
— Harsin plans to attend the Hawaii Bowl as an observer but said that is tentative depending on assistant coach interviews.
— Harsin has started recruiting by phone. He doesn’t plan to have any recruits here this weekend and isn’t sure if he’ll go on the road this weekend.
— The salary pool for assistant coaches at Boise State is about triple what it is at Arkansas State.
— Coyle thanked the Boise State fans first, then former coach Chris Petersen and his family. “Needless to say, they are complete class. I had two years to work with coach Petersen. He’s been incredibly classy throughout this whole process.” The fans and boosters applauded.
— Kustra: “I could make the argument that this is probably one of the most daunting assignments of any Division I program in the country, to find a new coach. First of all the critical role the program has played in the life of this university. … The second reason, that’s because of course of the leadership of Chris Petersen over these last years and this incredible coaching staff he’s assembled. I know it’s all about winning and he proved that. But it’s also about other things. There’s a reason we call them student-athletes. We expect them to be good students. We expect them to be good students. We expect them to lead lives and careers that will be exemplary.”