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Boise State football coach Avalos ‘humbled’ by opportunity to come back home

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BSU Coach

Boise State introduced new head football coach Andy Avalos on Sunday.

Former Boise State football coach Dan Hawkins could see where Andy Avalos’ career was going to take him long before the Broncos’ new head coach finished his playing days as one of the most productive linebackers in program history.

Hawkins, who Avalos played for from 2001 to 2004, told him before his senior season at Boise State that he was one day going to be a head coach.

His response was “no I’m not,” but that didn’t last long.

“It took no more than six months for me to be done as a player to realize I missed the game, but I missed being around the brotherhood more than anything,” Avalos told reporters Sunday.

Boise State announced Avalos as its new football coach on Saturday. After two years as defensive coordinator at Oregon and seven before that as an assistant coach for the Broncos, he was officially introduced Sunday as the 11th head coach in program history.

“It’s a humbling, humbling opportunity to be able to come back home,” said Avalos, who was the defensive coordinator at Boise State from 2016 to 2018. “To this university, to the brotherhood we belong to and to this community, we are excited to represent you guys with class and integrity.”

Avalos, 39, replaces Bryan Harsin, who was announced as the new head coach at Auburn on Dec. 22 and introduced on Christmas Eve.

Harsin was one of several coaches Avalos thanked for laying the foundation of the program that is giving his his first opportunity to be a head coach. He mentioned Boise State coaching legend Lyle Smith and Hawkins, who gave him his first coaching job as a graduate assistant.

He mentioned former Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who hired him in 2012 and he credited Petersen with teaching him how to be a leader of young men.

“We intend to uphold that tradition of success,” Avalos said. “Culture isn’t one thing. It’s everything. It’s how we live. It’s who we are. You will know what the culture is by your habits, and how people treat each other.”

Avalos knows plenty about Boise State’s culture. He was an All-Western Athletic Conference linebacker for the Broncos and still ranks No. 5 in program history with 355 career tackles. He was also on the coaching staff the last time the team made an appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl — a 38-30 win over Arizona in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.

Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey, who was hired a little more than a week ago, said it was obvious right away who Bronco Nation wanted to lead the football team, but it was important for him to hold a national search.

“Being from the Boise family and coaching tree was important to us, but it wasn’t required,” Dickey told reporters Sunday. “We’re a national brand, and I think in terms of the national brand we have moving forward, I didn’t want to settle.”

Dickey flew to Bozeman, Montana, Thursday to meet with Montana State head coach Jeff Choate before hopping the same private plane to Eugene, Oregon, presumably to close the deal with Avalos.

Avalos’ first contract runs through March 2026 and is worth about $1.4 million a year, Boise State announced Sunday afternoon.

Boise State President Dr. Marlene Tromp reiterated Sunday that she was committed to having a new athletic director in place before hiring a football coach. She also said no interviews were held and no offers were made until Dickey was hired, refuting a report from Fox analyst Troy Aikman, saying former Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore was offered and accepted the job before backing out because of a disagreement.

Putting a staff together is No. 1 on Avalos’ priority list, and it’s a task that has already begun.

Putting a staff together

is No. 1 on Avalos’ priority

list, and it’s a task that has

BUILDING A STAFF

Putting a staff together is No. 1 on Avalos’ priority list, and it’s a task that has already begun.

He confirmed Sunday that he’s bringing player development and recruiting assistant Da’Vell Winters with him from Oregon. Winters was on the plane with Avalos Saturday, and he’s the first official addition to the staff.

He was heavily involved in helping Oregon recruit the the top-rated classes in the Pac-12 every year that Avalos was on the Ducks’ staff, but it’s unclear what role he’ll fill at Boise State.

“Da’Vell is a man of character and a man who can engage all people,” Avalos said. “I believe in my heart that as more and more people get around Da’Vell they will see the impact he’s going to have not just on this football program, but on the community.”

Avalos also hinted at a couple of other hires Sunday.

When asked about co-defensive coordinator and interim head coach Spencer Danielson, he said “Spencer Danielson is right there and we’re ready to go.”

There were reports of Danielson following Harsin to Auburn, but Avalos getting hired may have changed his mind. It’s unclear what role Danielson will fill, but he’s likely a favorite for defensive coordinator. Avalos was a mentor to him while they were on the Broncos’ staff in 2017 and 2018.

Avalos also mentioned former Boise State head coach and current Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter Sunday, saying Koetter was moving back to Boise. Avalos said he told Koetter to “bring his whistle with him,” suggesting there may be a role for him on the staff, potentially as offensive coordinator.

Koetter coached the Broncos from 1998 to 2000.

Avalos played at Boise State with current safeties coach Gabe Franklin, and he was on the Broncos’ coaching staff with cornerbacks coach Jalil Brown and tight ends coach Kent Riddle.

Several hires are expected in the coming days, but Avalos knows he has to replace offensive line coach Brad Bedell, defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding and strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman, all of whom are joining Harsin’s staff at Auburn.

Bedell was announced Sunday as the Tigers’ new tight ends coach, and Auburn confirmed Saturday that Schmedding will coach inside linebackers. Associate athletic director Brad Larrondo also followed Harsin to Auburn, and there are reports that linebackers coach Zac Alley is heading to Louisiana-Monroe as defensive coordinator.

COACH PETE NOT INVOLVED

Petersen wasn’t as involved in Boise State’s search for a new football coach as he was in the university’s search for an athletic director, and Dickey said Sunday that was by design.

“Because of his ties to everyone within the Bronco family, I didn’t want to put him in that position,” Dickey said. “I love coach Pete and I very much plan on leaning on him. He’s a great Bronco and he still very much loves this place.”

Petersen hired both Avalos and Choate at Boise State, and he hired Choate again in 2014 as his defensive line coach at Washington.

Dickey said during his introductory press conference last Monday that he knew hiring a football coach could be the most important decision he makes at Boise State. He also promised to move swiftly but with diligence.

Dickey said upon arriving in Boise, he dropped his wife, Elizabeth, off and hasn’t seen her for a week. His diligence paid off, though, especially in the eyes of Boise State fans and alumni.

Now, Avalos’ task is to continue building on the Broncos’ recent success — which includes four straight trips to the Mountain West championship game — and get them back in the national spotlight in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

“I wanted to make sure we found the right person for this job, and I believe we did that,” Dickey said.

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