BOISE — Boise State football coach Bryan Harsin is already looking forward to next season, when he won’t have to waste valuable time during spring practice getting to know his players and teach them a new offense.

Harsin, after all, had to do the same thing last season in his only year as the head coach at Arkansas State and during his two years as the co-offensive coordinator at Texas before that.

“It seems like I’ve done it for about three years in a row,” Harsin said.

The first-year Boise State coach admitted Thursday that having a new coaching staff has put the Broncos a bit behind schedule compared to a normal spring as the two sides get to know each other.

“You’re trying to spend time figuring out what these players are like and they are trying to figure out what the coaches expect from them,” Harsin said. “I think one of the things we’ve hit on, that I feel like the players understand, is the direction we’re heading. That’s helped, just to calm some of that down a little bit and, ‘OK this is what the direction is. Here’s what the expectations are. Here’s how we practice. Here’s where I go.’ Just little things like that do slow you down anytime you’re new.”

In addition to getting to know each other and learning what both sides bring to the table, the Broncos are installing a new offense very different than the one they ran last season under offensive coordinator Robert Prince.

Last year’s offense was simplified to make things easier and without much thinking for the players. The new offense is almost a complete opposite, as shifts and motions will be used to help players get in the best possible spot on the field to have success.

And as expected, trying to teach and install the new offense at the same time they are trying to learn each other’s name has taken some time.

“As far as scheme and installing that and new language and all that, that’s obviously going to slow you down a little bit,” Harsin said. “But it is what it is and spring, that’s what that’s about.”

The goal is for the coaching staff to get the new offense installed almost completely during spring practices so players can work on things themselves during PRPs (player-run practices) during the summer.

When the group gets back together to start fall camp in late July, they will reintroduce the offense as a refresher — while also teaching it to the freshman and newcomers for the first time — and be ready to start game-planning for the season opener against Ole Miss about two weeks before the game.

HARSIN AGAINST UNIONIZATION: Harsin was asked Thursday about both the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit and the possibility of Northwestern players trying to form a union as college athletes continue a movement to try and receive additional compensation, such as revenue from memorabilia and ticket sales.

“These guys that come to a university and play football, guys that are on scholarship, that’s obviously something that I think is a pretty huge benefit that those guys have,” Harsin said. “If all of a sudden it blows up and you have all this recognition and things like that, well how’d you get there? Probably from the guys around you and probably from the university that believed in you, and probably from the coaches that helped you get in that position. I do think there are a lot of benefits that these college players have right now.

“I don’t know about all of the unionization. I don’t agree with that, but I do think there’s always an opportunity to do maybe a little bit more. But at the same time, not taking away from what’s this really about — you’re a student athlete. You came here to get a degree. That’s the one thing. The football part of it may not work out for whatever reason, but the degree part of it, that should. And that’s why you came here. So I think we have to be a little bit careful about how much we put into the football part of things more than what we already have and taking away from some of the academic side of things.”

Asked if the required time to play football left any time for academics, Harsin said, “It does. Because it’s all built in. Our schedules build in classes, study time, extra study time. It does. It’s all there. Now what you give up is a little bit of social life, which we all have to give up.”

BRONCO BITS: The Broncos will host a coaching clinic for high school and youth coaches today and Saturday. They will also host approximately 50 high school juniors on Saturday for the first of two Junior Days, when recruits take unofficial visits to check out the football facilities and the rest of the campus. … Saturday’s scrimmage is open to Boise State students, faculty and staff only. It is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. but students can arrive beginning at 3 p.m. and go inside to see the football complex. … Tight end Connor Peters suffered an undisclosed injury and will miss the rest of spring practice.

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B.J Rains covers Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press-Tribune. He also makes daily appearances on ESPN Boise.


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