Boise State finds itself in rare spot after firing its football coach for first time as FBS school

Boise State head coach Andy Avalos looks on as players warm up before an NCAA college football game against Colorado State on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

When Boise State athletic director Jeremiah Dickey decided a change was needed in the football program, he did something that hadn't been done since the Broncos joined the FBS level of college football in 1996.

The head coach was fired.

Andy Avalos was let go Sunday, 10 games into his third season. There have been a number of other coaching changes through the years at Boise State since it's been at the top level of college football. But in each instance, it was a coach leaving the Broncos for a new job.

Houston Nutt took over after Pokey Allen died from cancer, but lasted just one year before taking the job at Arkansas. Dirk Koetter was in Boise for three seasons before moving on to Arizona State. Dan Hawkins stayed five seasons before taking the Colorado job. In his place stepped Chris Petersen, who won 92 games in his eight seasons before leaving for Washington.

And when Avalos was hired, he was replacing Bryan Harsin, who departed for Auburn after seven seasons in charge of the Broncos.

So when Dickey made the change, he entered unexplored territory at Boise State.

“I would not have made the decision if I didn’t feel comfortable doing it in season and moving forward,” Dickey told reporters Monday. “And I’m not going to get into the inner workings of our department. At this point in time, this was my decision and I’m ready to move forward with it.”

The job at Boise State has lost a little of the cachet it once had when the team was regularly ranked among the top programs in the country during most of Petersen’s tenure. The Broncos were 22-14 under Avalos but were just 5-5 this season. Harsin had five 10-win seasons but only once played in a New Year’s Six bowl game during his time, that coming in his first year of 2014.

Dickey was the one who hired Avalos just a few days after he took over as the athletic director at Boise State in 2020. He said he feels much more prepared this time around.

“This is a much different situation,” Dickey said. “Even though I’m still a first-time AD, I’m not a new AD anymore.”

One thing Dickey will have to decide is whether he will look outside the Boise State family tree. Beginning with Hawkins’ hire to replace Koetter, each of the past four coaches had either been a former Broncos player, a former or current assistant coach or a combo of both.

If he decides to stay within the Boise tree, that pool could include the likes of Harsin, Kirby Moore or his brother Kellen, Jeff Choate, or interim head coach Spencer Danielson.

“I’m not going to say that that’s a priority by any means. It’s just as important as any other thing that I’m looking at, in terms of experience, and recruiting territories and connections,” Dickey said. “I mean, there’s a lot that goes into these processes.”


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