Change Is Good Even If You Think It’s Bad
A lot of success in sports is chemistry. You can have top notch players and the best coaches available and still not perform well. You have all the right ingredients, but they just don’t work well together.
At the same time the chemistry that once worked can begin to show signs of growing stale. Likely Chris Petersen sensed that happening to him and the program at Boise State. Even though there is a lot of love and respect for Chris Petersen it is good he’s gone. A program that thrives on freshness can’t thrive on old formulas.
Sometimes a charismatic coach can come in with great flare and promise. I think of Notre Dame, the oyster of college coaching jobs. They get the best recruits every year and millions of revenue are pumped into their program every year. Charlie Wies came with great promise as did Tyrone Willingham and Bob Davie; all great coaches in charge of a program with great players.
There were grand expectations. Though those coaches left with winning records they did not meet up to expectations.
I’m not so quick to have a coronation ceremony for Bryan Harsin. Sure, he ran a good offensive unit at Boise in the past, but that was as an offensive coordinator. He’s now a head coach.
I hope he goes undefeated every year, but being this is his first year we must be willing to live with perhaps the same type of season we had this year. Let’s not set the bar so high that he is doomed to fail.
Good programs don’t rebuild, they reload. There has to be a constant flow of above average recruits to feed the beast. Emerging programs take two steps forward and at times are forced to take one step back.
This year was by no means a step back. It was a step to the side. The program has been moving headlong for so long it must take time to reassess. It must settle into the Mountain West Conference and not just pass through it whether that will be to an expanded PAC or even an offer from the Big 12. One thing is certain those conferences are interested in stable programs with big attendance records.
At present if either of those conferences were to expand Boise State would have the smallest attendance of any present school and one of the smaller facilities. At present Boise State’s attendance is the best in the Mountain West averaging around 35,000 per game. That will keep BSU in the Mountain West.
The question remains, has the program gone as far as it can go? Can the current Bronco Stadium be expanded and ‘if you build it will they come?’
The Next Step Is Marketing
If I were a member or president of a large conference it would be important to know if a school could sustain a large attendance the years that the program does not do well. Can Boise do that? We really don’t know.
Boise does not have a large market. The closest large market is Salt Lake City, by no means a large market. Draw a circle 100 miles from any successful college program and what do you have? People, millions of them.
Boise State’s best hope is marketing, national marketing. Good marketing will bring TV and media revenue. If you can’t get enough people to the stadium because you are in an out-of-the-way sparsely populated area TV and national recognition and branding is
the only option.
Boise State needs to continue to have a winning program, but the next big step will be marketing. The blue turf was shear genius. Everybody knows it.
I think Boise State ought to have a store on Times Square, The Miracle Mile, and Rodeo Drive. Once Bronco ware appears on SNL, Oprah is seen with a Bronco handbag, and the Kardashians wear Bronco blue lipstick and eyeliner Boise State will have to turn away recruits. I’d fly in a guest celebrity for every home game and they’d sit with the Bronco Elvises. In fact the Bronco Elvises would be performing at halftime.
Suddenly it will be cool to be a Bronco fan (it already is).
I know, those suggestions are a little bizarre, but so was blue Astroturf, in fact, so was Astroturf.
Boise State’s next step is marketing the brand beyond the borders of Idaho.
Bryan Harsin is only a cog in the wheel.