They said Chris Petersen would never leave Boise State, until he did.
Petersen went 92-12 in eight seasons on the blue turf, ripping off five conference championships, four AP top-10 finishes — at Boise State!!! — with two undefeated seasons and three 1-loss campaigns. He could have remained at Boise State until he retired or the sun fell out of the sky, whichever came first, but he left after the 2013 season for Washington and the succession process was exceedingly simple as the Broncos simply called Bryan Harsin home.
Harsin is a former Boise State quarterback and was Petersen’s top lieutenant from 2006-10, when he left to become the offensive coordinator at Texas and later the head coach at Arkansas State.
Now in his sixth season leading the Broncos, Harsin hasn’t led Boise State to quite the Petersen-era heights (who would?), but the brand is still strong. Boise State is 55-15 under Harsin, including 3-0 with a win at Florida State this season. The Broncos won Mountain West championships in 2014 and ’17 and won or shared division crowns in 2016 and ’18. In addition to those conference titles, Harsin led Boise State to a victory over Pac-12 runner up Arizona in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, plus wins over Washington, Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon.
All that said, Harsin could certainly remain in blue and orange for the long haul. We’re talking about a Boise native, a Boise State graduate, a former Boise State graduate assistant, a former Boise State position coach, a former Boise State coordinator and now the current Boise State head coach. That’s a lot of Boise.
At the same time, Harsin is only 42 (he’ll turn 43 on Nov. 1) and at some point his eyes could start to peak beyond the city limits. Furthermore, we’re talking about a 42-year-old with a string of success at a premier Group of 5 program; it’s probably only a matter of time until someone knocks his blue and orange socks off.
Harsin is currently under contract through Jan. 10, 2023, with a salary that pays his $1.55 million this year and rises to $1.855 million in 2022. Originally signed in 2017, Harsin’s contract included no buyout. He signed an extension on Oct. 18 of last year that included a buyout, but only a slight one.
So, if a Power 5 heavyweight sets its eyes on Harsin, they could easily double his salary and pay only $350,000 to get him out of his contract.
At that point, the only thing stopping a hypothetical Power 5 school from hiring Harsin away would be his own desire to stay where the grass is blue and not green… because it’s certainly not his contract.