BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS
Here’s an outrageous thought that defies everything about college football in 2019 and beyond: What if Bryan Harsin, Hank Bachmeier and Chase Cord all stick around for the next two-plus seasons?
What if Harsin coaches Boise State through at least 2021, and his quarterback depth chart reads Bachmeier/Cord, or Cord/Bachmeier?
“I hope all those things happen, that’s what we’re building,’’ Harsin said this week.
In reality, even a coach oozing in optimism knows there’s a Hail Mary of a chance.
There’s no room in college football for unicorns, lollipops and rainbows.
Or is there?
Something special is brewing at Boise State, and it’s not coffee before morning practices, or a potential trip to the Cotton Bowl.
I’ve always believed that Harsin could spend a long time at Boise State.
And now the top two quarterbacks on his roster are acting like BFFs, besties, loving on each other, thinking the other is “awesome,’’ and bragging about a brotherhood.
We witnessed the lovefest as Bachmeier, a true freshman with a big personality, held his first Boise State press conference, and Cord, a redshirt sophomore with a stoic demeanor, spoke to the media for the first time since losing the QB battle in August.
Questions focused on their friendship — and their futures.
Harsin, the zen master who doesn’t have a QB commit in his 2020 recruiting class, said their relationship is as strong as they make it sound.
“I think it is, unless they’re foolin’ everybody else,’’ he said.
That’s the hard part, trying to figure out what student-athletes of today really think.
The NCAA transfer portal is a favorite new play toy for dream-weavers, towel-wavers and third-stringers. Too many players have lost their patience, and their work ethic, and are bolting for new schools in alarming numbers.
Bachmeier, presumably, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
But why would Cord stick around when he has options to play college football through the 2022 season?
Harsin says he’s different. Cord says he’s happy to be here.
For now, we have to believe them both. It’s not a stretch, and here’s why, according to the people who matter most.
“We talk about (players transferring). We’re very aware of those types of things that happen all over the place, but not with him,’’ Harsin said.
“He’s got a very disciplined, tough mindset. … He’s just got these really special qualities about him that fits this football team. He’s a leader on this team. … I think he’s different and I think he’s a special, special person and it shows up in how he affects our football team.’’
The first question Cord was asked referenced losing the starting job, and the option of moving on. He handled it in typical Cord fashion — businesslike. The same way he approached nearly a year of rehab after blowing out the ACL in his right knee last season.
“It was tough to hear just because I’ve been working so hard to get back, and I did, but there was never that moment of doubt because I knew I just had to get right back to work,’’ said Cord, who would seemingly not be on pace to graduate until after the 2020 season.
“It’s not about me and I think the guys saw that once I didn’t get the nod week one, but every day I’m competing. We talk about starring in your role, understanding it and starring in it, and that’s been my mindset.’’
Two additional factors could keep Cord at Boise State, when most everyone thinks he’s leaving.
Bachmeier loves to throw his body around, and Cord knows he’ll get opportunities to start, as he did last month at BYU.
And the ghost of Bush Hamdan.
Harsin has little desire to change the way Bachmeier plays, and said so after the San Jose State victory last week. That means more running. Very little sliding. The potential for reckless injuries.
“(Hank is) a competitor and if he feels like he’s got to get the first down, he’s going to do what he’s got to do. That will never be something we try to take away from him, just that competitiveness,’’ Harsin said.
“That’s part of both those guys’ games that you don’t want to take away. I don’t like when guys get banged up or have to come out, and things like that, and you certainly wish in hindsight, when you go back and look at it, but you can’t really talk about those things or change how they play.’’
And now for the Hamdan theory.
Hamdan played QB at Boise State from 2005-08, and left as one of the more popular backups in program history.
He was a third-stringer behind Jared Zabransky and Taylor Tharp in 2005-06. He lost the starting battle to Tharp in 2007, and to Kellen Moore in 2008.
In four seasons, Hamdan attempted 36 passes. His only start came on Senior Day.
Today, after playing for Chris Petersen and going through Boise State’s well-respected offensive program, Hamdan is working for Petersen as his coordinator at Washington. Hamdan is making $750,000 this season.
Could coaching be in Cord’s future? He’s mature, cerebral, and certainly acts like a coach, according to his coach. It’s not difficult to visualize Cord taking the Hamdan route at Boise State — and in life.
So Harsin, Bachmeier and Cord all together at Boise State for the next few seasons?
An outrageous thought?
Round up the unicorns.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.