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BSU football: Harsin could be a candidate for coaching vacancy at Minnesota

January 6, 2017

Just when Boise State fans thought they had escaped the Bryan Harsin rumor mill for another year came the firing of Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys earlier this week.

Former Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle, who hired Harsin three years ago at Boise State, is the athletic director at Minnesota. It’s easy to see the connection.

Would Coyle be interested in a reunion with Harsin? Would Harsin even want to leave Boise State for Minnesota? Both are good questions that don’t seem to have concrete answers.

One thing is for sure: Harsin appears to at least be a possible candidate.

The Pioneer Press in Minneapolis lists Harsin along with Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl and Central Florida coach Scott Frost as the likely candidates.

Michigan radio host Bill Simonson, who has 35,000 likes on his Facebook page, posted that Fleck is the Gophers’ top choice, but that Harsin was the “back up plan.” Joe Schmit, a sportscaster at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, reported Wednesday that Coyle met with Fleck about the opening.

No national media outlets or reporters have linked Harsin to the Minnesota job as of yet.

Harsin reportedly interviewed with Oregon in December, but has yet to confirm or deny the meeting or interest in the Ducks’ coaching job that eventually went to Willie Taggart.

Asked about Oregon by the Press-Tribune at media day for the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix last week, Harsin said, “I wouldn’t believe everything you read. ‘Talk’, you can interpret how you want to. Those things are out there and like I said before, I can’t control that.

“The only thing I know and that matters is the job I have and that’s what I know matter of fact,” Harsin said. “Let me tell you this: there’s going to be a lot more of those rumors coming out, not just with me, but in particular with coaches and it becomes a distraction. It’s hard. But like I’ve told you before, we know where we are and we love it and we know this opportunity is special for us.”

Harsin has not talked publicly since his postgame press conference following the loss to Baylor in the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 27. He sent out a tweet on Wednesday night with a motivational quote, but ended it with the ‘#bleedblue’ hashtag.

Former ESPN anchor Michael Kim, who currently works for 120 Sports, tweeted Thursday that former LSU coach Les Miles flew to Minneapolis and was meeting with University of Minnesota officials.

Miles, along with former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini, have also been listed as possible candidates. Pelini is the head coach at FCS Youngstown State, which is playing James Madison on Saturday for the FCS championship.

NO WIDE RECEIVERS COACH YET: Boise State has yet to hire a wide receivers coach to replace Junior Adams, who departed to become the offensive coordinator for Mike Sanford at Western Kentucky.

No names have leaked as known candidates.

Asked prior to the Cactus Bowl about the possibility of losing any of his staff members, Harsin said potential change could be good for the program.

“We feel good about what we have and to me, if there is change, change is exciting,” Harsin said. “It creates energy. It creates opportunity. It creates a chance to bring in something new.”

Montana State wide receivers coach Matt Miller, a former Boise State wide receiver, would seem to be a logical candidate. Former Boise State wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator Brent Pease might fit as well. He’s currently the offensive coordinator at UTEP.

HARSIN UNSURE OF PLAY-CALLING DUTIES MOVING FORWARD: Assuming Harsin returns, he’s unsure if he will continue to call plays next season.

“I don’t know,” Harsin said. “I honestly can’t answer that. We’ll take everything and scrap it. You know what you believe in, but you scrap it and sit down and rebuild it. If there’s something we can do better, to me it’s all about maximizing the potential we have on our team, and that includes our coaches.”

Harsin took over full-time play calling duties prior to the 2016 season after losing offensive coordinators in two consecutive seasons. He previously called the plays for parts of his one season as the head coach at Arkansas State, and more famously from 2006-2010 as the offensive coordinator while at Boise State.

“I’ve always felt like that’s been an area I’ve enjoyed doing and feel strongly about,” Harsin said. “We’ll evaluate it when the season is over.”

BRONCO BITS: The dead period for college football recruiting ends on Jan. 11, meaning coaches can begin contacting and visiting high school seniors a week from Thursday, on Jan. 12. National Signing Day is on February 1. … Boise State basketball hosts San Diego State on Saturday at 9 p.m. in arguably the biggest game of the season at Taco Bell Arena. The Broncos are 3-0 and sit atop the Mountain West Conference standings. San Diego State was the preseason favorite to win the league. Boise State has had at least 9,600 fans at each of the previous three home meetings with San Diego State. Tickets remain at BroncoSports.com.