Cleaning House

Scrub the floors, clean the kitchen, and take out the dirty laundry for Pete’s sake.

If there are dirty dishes in the sink and the counters are coated with sludge from the previous night’s dinner, I’m going to clean it. I put as much elbow grease as I can to ensure my kitchen is as clean as can be. And I don’t stop there. I punctually move on to my living room as if I had a hot date with a Mr. Clean magic eraser and a can of pledge. My anal retentiveness moves me to the next room and so on. I don’t stop until everything is spotless.

Why you may ask?

I believe a person’s cleanliness is a reflection of their character.

Walk into my house, my car, my office; you know what you’ll find? A neatly organized environment free of clutter. I try to live a simplistic lifestyle, only having what I need. And for those items I do have, I keep them as clean and neat as possible.

Boise State University’s coaching staff was in need of a deep cleaning. Robert Prince had done a horrendous job with the offense. Pete Kwiatkowski took the twelfth-best defense in the nation during 2011 to a 5-game losing team in 2013. On special teams, the Broncos were having open tryouts on the field, and during kick and punt returns left Dallas Burroughs—arguably the fastest player on the Broncos—sitting on the bench.

Was Coach Chris Petersen bolting to Washington and taking his dirty laundry with him the best for Boise State?

Arguably yes.

Now before you send the lynch mobs, hear me through. For as long as fans can remember, Boise State football has always had the blue-collar work mentality. From Nutt to Koetter, Hawkins to Petersen, coaches were always promoted within, because they knew and believed in the culture of the program—work hard for what you want. Each coach helped the next establish the ground floor to the program before leaving for another gig. Even now, the new Bleymaier Football Complex weight room has the words “Blue Collar” up on the wall. As far as I’m concerned, these current classes have lost that mentality and are far from “Blue Collar” workers.

Look back at the last two years, the number of players being suspended for violations of team rules dramatically increased with the classes after the Fiesta Bowls. Furthermore, the Boise State football program saw an increasing number of top-notch players leaving the team for personal reasons at season’s end. Bronco Nation had never seen this before. My assumption: the new classes are resting on the laurels of the previous class’ achievements.

When Houston Nutt and Dirk Koetter coached a newly formed NCAA Division I school, starting in 1996, they instilled the mentality that their teams had to work to be the best. Boise State University did not have a storied past going back 100 years like Michigan, Notre Dame, or USC; so they would have to be good year-in, year-out. After a winning culture was established, the coaches moved on.

In the Hawkins era, Boise State started to earn recognition by gracing the top-25 weekly. Add a few bowl wins into the equation and we had ourselves a viable program. After Hawkins left, Petersen took the reigns and guided the Broncos to an unimaginable Fiesta Bowl victory and an undefeated season. In 10 short years Boise State had gone from newcomers in Division I to a BCS Bowl champion. Not even the Notre Dame Fighting Irish can claim a BCS Bowl victory in the BCS era. Boise State would go on to clinch BCS Bowl victory number two in 2010 defeating the Horned Frogs of TCU. As we can all recall the football program was a field goal away from another BCS berth and arguably a chance to play in the National Championship in 2010 and 2011.

What has happened in the years since?

2012 was a rough year for Boise State. The loss of almost every starter on both sides of the ball, in addition to loss of position coaches, hampered the team yearlong. Even with finishing 11-2 on the season, Bronco Nation was unimpressed with the monotonous year the struggling football team had brought us. New coaches and new players had to acclimate, but couldn’t live up to the previous class’ expectations. The 2013 season was not any better. The 5-loss season was the worst in Bronco history since becoming a Division I school.

December of 2013 was even darker for the program. Dubbed Blue Friday, Boise State lost head coach Chris Petersen to the Washington Huskies, a move that stunned Bronco Nation. Believing he would coach the Broncos forever, not a single fan was happy with the move. Petersen also took a majority of the coaching staff with him, leaving Bronco Nation in limbo.

Was it a blessing in disguise?

I will not say that what Chris Petersen did wasn’t anything short of spectacular, but both Boise State and the coach had reached a comfort zone that needed to be broken out of. Petersen said he needed to move on to keep growing as a coach. He went on to say that Bronco Nation had become too comfortable with him and vice-versa, and that he and Bronco Nation needed to move forward with a new breath of fresh air.

That breath of fresh air: Bryan Harsin. Talk about a guy who truly bleeds blue. Harsin was born-and-raised in Boise; played high school football in Boise, walked-on to the Boise State football program, coached for the football program, and is now captaining the ship. His all-star staff was equally as impressive. Stanford quarterback and running back coach Mike Sanford—a Boise State alumnus—will be heading the offensive coordinator position. Texas A&M co-defensive coordinator and Boise State alumnus, Marcel Yates, will be heading the defensive coordinator position. Harsin also brought in a number of position coaches that had previously held Bronco football coaching positions.

When Petersen left, he cleaned house by taking the 2012-13 coaching staff with him. Like a dirty house, Boise State cleaned until it was spotless. Robert Prince had made a mess in the kitchen, so Harsin cleaned it with Sanford. The garage floor needed polishing from Kwiatkowski’s defense leaking oil, so Yates was brought in to do the job. The house was becoming outdated from the homeowners being too comfortable with the way it looked, so Boise State bought in Bryan Harsin to freshen it up and give it a new look.

Will Harsin be able to rebuild the program by bringing in A-grade coaches? Only time will tell. For now, the house is being scrubbed top to bottom in anticipation of game day in Atlanta, August 28th, versus Ole Miss. The current classes need to look back at the history of the program to truly learn what Bronco football is all about. No longer should they rest on the laurels of the previous classes; no longer should they feel entitled because they play on a team with a winning history. It is time for them to build a legacy of their own and really show what it means to be “Blue Collar.”

We need to operate like its fourth-and-one.

Embrace the past.

Attack the future.

Go Broncos.


About Steven Rodriguez

Born-and-raised in Southern California, Steven loves all teams LA, but Bleeds Blue now more than ever. After graduating Boise State University's business school, Steven continues to support his beloved alma mater. He has a passion for all things sports, but loves analyzing college football plays and statistics. He is also an Internet Marketer by day and enjoys all outdoor activities when he is not devoting his time to following Boise State athletics.

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