Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin said the Sept. 4 season opener against Washington and his old boss Chris Petersen will be ‘different’ because of the close ties between the two teams.
“We’ve worked together,” Harsin said in an interview Tuesday morning with talk show host Jim Rome. “We won a bunch of games. Got a tremendous amount of respect for them. There’s something different about that. We know it. Our players know it. We haven’t shied away from that.”
Petersen makes his first trip to Boise State where he had a 92-12 record and .885 winning percentage over an eight-year (2006-13) tenure.
Harsin was the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach under Petersen for five years (2006-10) before moving on to Texas (2011-12) in the same roles. He was the head coach at Arkansas State in 2013 before returning to Boise State last year.
“We’re excited for all of those reasons, but ultimately when we kickoff the players will go out and play for those 3 1/2 hours,” Harsin said. “They got to compete against whoever they’re going against. But as far as what we’re building up to, no we’re excited about it and we’re taking it all in. And when it’s time to play, we’ll be ready.”
Boise State is ranked 24th in the USA Today coaches preseason poll.
Here’s the transcript of the interview.
(On difference between second season and first season at Boise State) “I think two things. One I think our players know what to expect as far as the plan and we know our players better. So that can be good and bad sometimes. We know the effort that we’ve gotten from the guys last year that have returned and our players know what to expect as far as what we’re trying to accomplish in fall camp and what our goal is leading into the season. They’ve done a great job so far so we’re excited about where we’re at.”
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(On if he expected the type of success – 12-2 record, Mountain West title and 38-30 Fiesta Bowl win over Arizona – in first year at Boise) “Well, I hope so just because Boise State for along time had success and I certainly didn’t want to come in here and mess that up. So we’d hope that would happen. I also knew the type of team that we had coming off an 8-5 season. They understood the tradition and what it takes to be successful. There’s a reason why guys come to Boise State and that’s to win and be successful. It was just a matter of changing a little bit of the mindset and they did a great job of accepting the coaches and what our plan was and went out there. We had an up-and-down year early on. After that Air Force game we didn’t quite know what direction we were heading. We just went back to work and had some fun and ended winning nine games and ultimately a Fiesta Bowl. Just really proud of our guys putting the work in to get that done.”
(On what makes Boise State different and why is that important) “I think it’s one word. It’s our culture. It’s the type of guys that we have in here as players, coaches and administrators. There’s just a bunch of people here that just work. People have asked what does that mean. I think the things we say we actually do. To me that goes back to culture. If we have that right, if we have good athletes, if we have good coaches, we have great people here and if the culture is correct, we’re going to go out there and have success. That’s how it’s been for a lot of years. We try to talk about that as much as we can and uphold that standard. That’s what has helped us be successful in my opinion over the last few years.”
(On what’s different about Boise State’s culture and work ethic compared to other schools) “The one thing that it comes down to is the trust factor that you have with your coaches and players. This is a tough sport. There’s a lot of demands especially at Boise State and teams that are in that (same) spot. But trust in the plan. Trust in the coaches. Trust in the guys are going to get their work done and do what they’re asked to do. That’s been something that hit us last year even after that Air Force game. We had to go right back to that and get to work and say: “Hey guys, this is the plan. It’s not going to change and we got to do a better job of it.” And they did exactly that. I think that trust factor within that team has been a big part of why we’ve been different and why we’ve had the success we’ve had.”
(On Statue of Liberty play in the Fiesta Bowl) “It worked out so it must have been. It’s probably the name change. We called it America in that game. It’s one of those that our players enjoy having some fun. I think at that time when it was called, our guys were looking at the sideline nodding. We had a pretty good start to the game and they were feeling it.”
(On Washington and Chris Petersen returning to town for season opener. Just another game or a little different?) “No it’s different. It’s different because we haven’t played (a season opener) at home in six years. We’ve been in all of these kickoff classics early on. So we’re back home after six years. Obviously, Washington is a tremendous program, Pac-12 program. And then Coach Petersen and that staff. We’ve worked together. We won a bunch of games. Got a tremendous amount of respect for them. There’s something different about that. We know it. Our players know it. We haven’t shied away from that. We’re excited for all of those reasons, but ultimately when we kickoff the players will go out and play for those 3 1/2 hours. They got to compete against whoever they’re going against. But as far as what we’re building up to, no we’re excited about it and we’re taking it all in. And when it’s time to play, we’ll be ready.”
(On if Boise State will receive consideration from playoff committee) “No I think we would. And I think any team that handles their business, goes undefeated and wins their conference outright should be considered as one of those four teams. Now there might be others in there and then they got to make those decisions. But if we happen to do those things and we’re fortunate enough to be in that position we definitely should be considered. Hopefully that’s what the case is at the end of the year.”
(On Broncos spending time with the Boise fire department in offseason) “It was a lot tougher than we expected. And the takeaway from it was for us when these new guys come in – our freshmen in particular – we put them in a very stressful environment and ask them to go perform. Well, that’s what we did for ourselves. It’s just a reminder for the coaches that before we go out there and demand so much let’s remember we put ourselves in that situation. What did we learn? And what can we take from that experience to help our team with these young guys in particular to grow and have success early. The fire department did a great job with us. They taught us a great lesson. I think our team really enjoyed the fact that we were able to share that with them going into this fall camp.”
(On if the Broncos trained or went on calls with the firefighters) “No they actually put us through a simulated fire is what they did. So we went in teams of two. They put us into gear. They put us in smoke and fire. None of it was real so we were never in any harm, but mentally that’s where the game was played and some of us didn’t quite make it through all the way even though we were OK. It was a challenge just to actually go through that routine of how they train the firefighters. We learned quite a bit from it. They did a great job of giving us at the end of it how to be confident in tough situations.”