Harsin and Petersen: An almost identical MWC journey

Scanning through social media, one would think that Bronco Nation is in full panic mode.

The negative voices tend to always scream louder than the positive. Perhaps we don’t give as much attention to the positive because maybe it’s not as entertaining as discussing the negatives.

There is an overwhelming number of members from Bronco Nation who believe this 10-2 season was a successful one. So much so that when people were polled on whether or not this season was a success, over 2,400 voted, with 85% of the vote believing 2016 was a success.

I would have to agree with them. Defeating Washington State, Oregon State, and BYU is not something to overlook.

Embrace The Past

Comparing is not always fair or right, but when it comes to sports, fans are always comparing. That is especially true when trying to find similarities between some of their team’s greatest players and coaches to current ones.

Many miss former head coach Chris Petersen, and it’s still odd to see him in purple and gold. Everyone knows what he did here in Boise. He made the Broncos a national brand, and a household name.750370p1025ednmain750370p1025ednmain605uw

On June 11th, 2010 Boise State made the announcement they were making the move from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West Conference, a move that was long overdue. In 2011, Boise State became a member of the league and it was Kellen Moore’s final season as a Bronco.

Chris Petersen only spent three seasons in the Mountain West Conference before taking the reigns at Washington on December 6th, 2013.

Enter in former Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who was returning to his alma mater; a place where he’d always wanted to coach. As 2016 winds down, both Petersen and Harsin have three seasons as a head coach in the Mountain West Conference.

Their accomplishments during their three years have been similar.

Chris Petersen – 3 Years in MWC

Year Overall Record Conference Record
2011 12-1 6-1
2012* 11-2 7-1
2013 8-5 6-2
Total Total
31-8 19-4

*Co-Conference Champion

Coach Pete managed to get a Co-Conference Championship in 2012, sharing it with Fresno State and San Diego State.  He never won the Mountain West Conference out-right.

In 2011, he helped defeat Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl, and the following year he defeated Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl. He didn’t coach in the Hawaii Bowl the following year due to his departure to Washington.

Flip the script to Boise State’s current coach Bryan Harsin.

Bryan Harsin – 3 Years in MWC

Year Overall Record Conference Record
2014 12-2 7-1
2015 9-4 5-3
2016 10-2 6-2
Total Total
31-8 18-6

Mountain West Championship in blue

Petersen & Harsin both went 31-8 in their first three seasons in the Mountain West Conference as head coach of the Boise State Football team. Petersen has a slight edge over Harsin in conference record, but Pete never won a Mountain West Championship out-right. Harsin did so in 2014, and led the Broncos to a NY6 Bowl and Fiesta Bowl victory.

Record vs BCS/P5 Schools

Coach  Record
Petersen 3-3
Harsin 5-1*

*Fiesta Bowl Victory

Attack The Future

Harsin had some big shoes to fill in coach Chris Petersen. A coach that went 92-12 as the Bronco head football coach from 2006-to 2013. I’m going to break some news to you: it’s going to be hard to have that great of success for so long.


Theodore Roosevelt had a quote that I think we can all take to heart even outside of thinking of Boise State Football:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

It’s true, especially when you compare anyone to Petersen’s unprecedented record while coaching at Boise State. Maybe this comparison is an indication that Bryan Harsin & Co. are on the right path?

With so much turnover in the coordinator positions since Harsin arrived, maybe the current coordinators stay and Bronco Nation will reap the benefits.

Boise State and its fans have a current coach who is 5-1 against P5 Conference schools, and is currently undefeated in bowl games. If bowl projections do come true, Harsin could be looking at another feather in the cap with a bowl victory and a possible victory over a Power 5 Conference team.


About Drew Vachal

I am the founder and creator of Bronco Nation News. Husband, father and an uncle.

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