BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS
‘Tis the season, and Bryan Harsin has leverage.
That’s why Boise State’s football coach spoke out last weekend, presenting his wish list, and making sure we all checked it twice.
His original press conference ultimatum, last Sunday: “If we decide that we want to settle, settling is not a place that I want to be. If we want to get better, I’m all about that.”
Followed by his social media blitz during the week: “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’’’
Harsin has leverage because of another monster year — 12 wins, first undefeated Mountain West season in school history, league championship.
His name was linked to SEC jobs at Missouri and Arkansas.
Harsin, it seems, is sticking around for a seventh season, and now he wants more, more, more — for a program that already has more than any league peer.
‘Tis the season.
The state’s highest paid employee doesn’t need a tool box, a shaving kit or a new whistle. There are legitimate items of need … so here is our 12 gifts of Christmas for a man who apparently doesn’t have everything:
• New offensive coordinator.
This became priority No. 1 Saturday when word spread that Zak Hill has left for Arizona State. Harsin and Hill have been in charge of the offense for three years and five quarterbacks. Together, they averaged 34.9 points and won 33 games, including 22-of-24 in league. Hill won’t coach the Las Vegas Bowl; Harsin said he won’t focus on the opening until after Saturday’s game. And for you dreamy-eyed fans hoping for a Christmas miracle, don’t expect to find Kellen Moore under the tree. Not happening.
• Increased salary budget for assistant coaches.
Harsin’s budget for assistants has remained mostly the same since 2014, and he’s lost assistants every offseason. Other Group of 5 programs, such as Houston and UCF, are pushing $3 million a year for their assistants. Harsin has a budget of about $2.2 million and needs a bump of at least $300,000 — but he has to ditch the ridiculous eight-win rollover clause in his contract. Give and take. Not blue-collar. Eight wins gets you fired around here.
• Mountain West loudmouth.
Memphis rightfully won the Group of 5 race, but Harsin isn’t happy with marketing and promotion of the “Boise State Brand.’’ He wants more from Boise State and the MW. It doesn’t look good when a coach leads the parade. And it’s not a fitting style for Boise State athletic director Curt Apsey or league commissioner Craig Thompson, both reserved and willing to let results carry the cause. Anyone have a number for Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, a respected voice who every November could smartly, wisely lobby for the MW? Make it a real, paid position and give the man a megaphone.
• East-side stadium renovation.
Harsin specifically mentioned this project, which has been talked about for three years. Time to finally make it happen, and Apsey is rolling out details: Premium seats, new concourse/concessions/restrooms, academic center and more. Cost estimates are $23 million, and he hopes to make it happen before the 2021 or 2022 seasons. Sooner the better. Of course, it depends on how “giving’’ boosters are feeling these days.
• Field suites and a beer porch.
Replace the north end-zone grandstands with a two-part structure: Field-level patio suites below, with an open-air concrete plaza on top. For beer and wine. And fun. And socializing (think concourse at a Steelheads game). More revenue. More attention. More fans having a good time — instead of sitting in their living rooms and whining about the coach.
• False-start meter.
Every Christmas list must include bling. Opponents have committed 48 false-start penalties in Albertsons Stadium since 2018, a number that leads the nation, based on Boise State research. Let’s add a LED-type tracker inside the stadium, with a decibel meter. Perfect stocking-stuffer, assuming Harsin has a massive fireplace.
• Another transfer QB.
Boise State is recruiting a new quarterback, but there’s no official word on whether a transfer will join the team this offseason. Please make it happen. Montell Cozart and Jaylon Henderson have been program saviors. And more fun than grandpa blasted at the holiday party.
• New STUD linebacker.
Junior Curtis Weaver should leave for the NFL Draft. Demitri Washington has huge potential as his replacement. More Weavers and Washingtons, please.
• New left tackle.
Junior Ezra Cleveland could leave for the NFL Draft. Replacement gift necessary.
Harsin has more wins (64), Mountain Division titles (four), MW championships (three) and has recruited, developed and produced more NFL players than any coach in the league since 2014. Yet he’s never won MW Coach of the Year. Boise State, apparently, has too many resources and is supposed to win. Grinches everywhere.
• Beat Washington in the Vegas Bowl.
Harsin is constantly compared to Chris Petersen, the legend he replaced. They meet for the second time Saturday.
Harsin won a regular season meeting in 2015. To finish your career 2-0 against Petersen is the gift of a lifetime.
• A smile.
It’s OK to be intense. It’s absolutely OK to be you. But a coach who wins as much as Harsin does should smile more.
‘Tis the season.
And cheers to all …
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 email@example.com.