Bryan Harsin, clad in a blue sweatshirt and black sweatpants, jogged out to midfield at Sam Boyd Stadium, his white tennis shoes sinking into the artificial turf. Chris Peterson met him there, and for a moment, the two Bronco legends embraced and exchanged words.
In what would normally be considered a disappointing game for Boise, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of appreciation, watching the two. Chris Peterson had put on an absolute clinic against Boise State. Washington outclassed the Harsin-led squad from the beginning of the Vegas Bowl and secured a 38-7 win.
Then the two parted ways – Harsin going back to the Boise locker room, and Peterson back to the Washington locker room. Yet they couldn’t be moving in more opposite directions after the game. Peterson is reportedly taking on an advisory role with Washington Athletics. Harsin will return to Boise after another offseason of coaching drama.
In 2018, Harsin signed a new four-year contract with Boise State. While he does have his complaints about overall program funding, he’s more than set in terms of base pay. Harsin is going to be paid 1.65 million next season, and that’s not including potential bonuses, which are over a million dollars per season.
The more interesting part of his current contract structure is the buyout clause. If Harsin were to leave after this upcoming season, he’d have to pay a sum of 350,000 dollars. That amount gradually goes down by 100,000 dollars per year.
While that may sound like a lot of money to us armchair coaches, it’s not that much when you understand just how much Harsin would likely make in a Power Five Contract.
For example, Scott Frost, the coach at UCF for their national championship season (cough), is now making a whopping $5 million per year at Nebraska. To be clear, that wasn’t just from when he was first signed at Nebraska and actually had some hype.
That $5 million a year has been continued under his two-year contract extension signed in 2019. Yes, they really handed him that much guaranteed cash after going 8-13 in two seasons. I suppose lackluster moves will be made when your team’s mascot is a cornhusker.
To me, it seems pretty safe to assume that if a school were to hire Harsin, he’d be making around the same five-million-dollar number. Harsin has a pretty nice basketball court to maintain, but he could probably handle a buyout of 250,000 while he and his family moved to their new school.
At this point, it’s not a matter of if Harsin will leave, it’s a matter of when. The deciding factor for his timeline here in Boise is up to one question.
2014. Obama was President, Ebola was the pandemic of the day, Idaho football was still Division 1, and Boise State won the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Six years have come and gone, and the 2014 Fiesta Bowl is the only major bowl game Boise has won in those six years.
Boise hasn’t struggled in those six years, but they also aren’t reaching the magnificent heights which the program reached in the Chris Petersen era.
That is going to change.
Last season, Boise State trotted off to an incredible start. They beat Florida State and swept their conference opponents on the back of freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier. Then Bachmeier went down to injury at a very inopportune time.
Chase Cord took over for the team’s road trip to BYU, and, well, let’s just say it didn’t go according to plan. Boise went on to win their conference with the help of Jaylon Henderson, but the loss to BYU came back to haunt them, as Boise was two spots behind Memphis in the final CFP rankings. Boise missed the NY6 bowl, and you know the story from there.
Hank Bachmeier will be back in 2020, along with sophomore star running back George Holani. Barring an injury blitz (knock on wood), Boise is poised to have an excellent season in 2020.
They get Florida State at home and avoid road trips to BYU and Utah State. If the Broncos can survive two huge September road trips at Air Force and Marshall, then beat Wyoming at War Memorial Stadium in November, they will be undefeated going into the Mountain West Championship in Albertsons Stadium.
While that situation is far from guaranteed, even a one-loss Boise team has a great shot at making an NY6 bowl. It’s extremely hard to imagine Boise losing more than one game in their upcoming season, given the schedule.
Should Boise win an NY6 bowl or even appear in one within the next three seasons, as they likely will, there is no doubt in my mind that Harsin will be gone.
If Boise wins an NY6 bowl next year, we won’t have to wait three seasons to see Harsin leave.