Boise State hires Andy Avalos as head coach

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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.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”