Boise State hires Andy Avalos as head coach

Andy Nelson via Imagn Content Services
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BOISE, Idaho — Andy Avalos is taking over as head coach at Boise State, returning to the school where he was a standout linebacker and defensive coordinator.

Avalos was announced Saturday as the replacement for Bryan Harsin, who left Boise State to take the head coaching position at Auburn just before Christmas.

The hiring of Avalos continues Boise State’s trend of keeping the job running the program within the Broncos family. Boise State has hired either an assistant within the program or a former player to run the show dating back to Dirk Koetter taking over in 1998.

Avalos played for the Broncos from 2001-05 and later returned as a defensive assistant and took over as defensive coordinator in 2016. For the past two seasons, he has been the defensive coordinator at Oregon.

“This is a dream come true, and a very humbling opportunity for myself and my family to be back in this program,” Avalos said in a statement. “I’m excited to get back around the players I have missed the last two years, and to provide an elite experience for all the young men in the Boise State football program.”

The Broncos job seemed to come down to which former Boise State connection would end up in charge – former quarterback Kellen Moore, Montana State coach Jeff Choate or Avalos. Moore has always seemed destined to be a head coach, but he withdrew from the process after signing a new contract to remain the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys.

After Moore withdrew, the decision for new Boise State athletic director Jeremiah Dickey came down to Avalos or Choate, a former assistant for the Broncos under Chris Petersen.

“We did our due diligence with this search in a very short period of time, and this was a national search, not just something we were looking at keeping within the family,” said Dickey, who was hired by the school just a week ago. “Andy left no doubt that he was the individual that would continue building on the well-established culture within Bronco Football.”

Avalos was a two-time all-WAC first-team selection during his playing career. Once he finished playing, Avalos coached at Division II Nebraska-Kearney and Sacramento State before returning to Boise State in 2012 as an assistant.

Avalos was hired as the defensive coordinator at Oregon in February 2019.

He will inherit a Boise State program in flux. The Broncos have not matched the same level of success from the time when Moore was the quarterback and Petersen was in charge, but the program has remained the benchmark for most Group of Five programs. Boise State went 69-19 under Harsin, won three Mountain West championships and claimed a Fiesta Bowl title in Harsin’s first season.

Boise State went 5-2 this season and lost to San Jose State in the Mountain West title game.

But there have been rumblings of unhappiness with the Broncos’ current situation in the Mountain West, as evidenced by recent emails from Harsin revealed through public information requests and published by the Idaho Press that suggest change could be in order.

The Broncos have not played in a New Year’s Six bowl game since 2014 and have seen a number of programs in the American – Cincinnati, UCF, Memphis – pull even or surpass Boise State in terms of prominence and recent success among the Group of Five schools.

Avalos’ task will be getting Boise State’s on-field product back to the top of that conversation while the school seems to be exploring what’s the best move for the future of its football program.