There was a small — yet hardly insignificant — controversy hovering above the Boise State football program during the second week of the 1998 season.
Dirk Koetter had just defeated Cal State Northridge in his Boise State coaching debut, and Washington State was next on the schedule. Both games were at home, the easy part. Koetter’s wife, Kim, was nine months pregnant with their fourth child. That was the hard part, for both parties.
Koetter said during the week that if forced to decide between birth or ball, he would have coached the Washington State game. Koetter, now in his 13th NFL season and the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, repeated his stance this week: “I would have been coaching.’’
Good news for all: Kim gave birth to Davis Koetter on that Friday before the game, with Dirk by their side. The next day, the coach got to coach on The Blue against the Cougars.
Twenty-one years and three days later, Davis Koetter will play a football game less than a mile from where he was born, and inside the same stadium where his dad roamed for three seasons before parlaying success into head coaching jobs at Arizona State and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Davis is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound sophomore wide receiver at Portland State with nine career catches and four touchdowns.
Dad couldn’t be any more proud.
“Yeah, it is cool. I mean, I love all (four of) my kids. They're all different. They're all unique. And they all have done well for themselves — I’m proud of all of them,’’ Dirk said. “But yeah, this is a lot of fun to watch Davis.’’
Dirk grew up in Pocatello, the son of a local legend football coach. His passion started around the age of 5, and he ended up a quarterback at Idaho State.
Davis grew up in Tempe, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Atlanta. And he turned his own childhood passion into a successful quarterback gig at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Florida. Dad was able to attend many of his games.
Then came a series of events …
Dirk vacations every summer in McCall with Chris Petersen, who suggested that Davis attend his quarterback camp at Washington.
Davis showed up at camp in the summer of 2016, was spotted by Portland State coach Bruce Barnum, and signed with the Big Sky program in 2017.
In 2018, Davis played quarterback, wide receiver and on all special teams.
This season, Davis is a full-time wide receiver and plays on all special teams. His talent is improving.
“He’s a really good player. … He’s tall, he’s athletic,’’ said Boise State coach Bryan Harsin, a backup quarterback on Koetter’s 1998 team in Boise.
FYI: Harsin also has a son named Davis. Not a coincidence.
Like those around him, Davis Koetter’s passion for the game and his football IQ are off the charts.
“All of our kids wanted to go to the games, but Davis is the one who wanted to be at practice,’’ Dirk said.
Dirk was the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007 when Davis started using his whiteboard to design plays.
By 2012, Dirk was in charge of Atlanta’s offense, and he invited Davis to bunk with him in the dorms at training camp.
Dirk woke up one night, and Davis was gone.
“The next day, he was helping out in the equipment room, and I go, ‘Where the hell were you at last night?’ and he goes, ‘Oh, me and all the ball boys were playing touch football in the indoor facility at 1 o'clock in the morning.’’
One of the ball boys: Former Clemson national champion and current Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Davis hung out with Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan for three years. He spent a couple of seasons with Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
“I would say the things that he learned from both of those guys is more like just how those guys act and about how they are as leaders around the team, how they are as people,’’ Dirk said. “For him to see pro athletes and how it really is on the inside is sometimes different than how it’s perceived on the outside.’’
Dirk, who faces the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night, will watch the Boise State-Portland State game from a hotel room in the Atlanta area on Saturday night. He hopes not to fall asleep before halftime — bedtime is 11 p.m. sharp his time, he said — and will check results first thing Sunday morning.
Kim is in Boise this weekend and will hit most of Davis’ games this season, while Dirk tries to get Ryan and the Falcons back to the Super Bowl.
Dirk said he remains a Boise State fan, and he and Kim are building a retirement home in Boise for when he’s done coaching.
But a man who grew up in Idaho, made his head coaching debut at Boise State, won the first Division I bowl games in school history, and helped to turn the program around after a disastrous couple of seasons, has no problem rooting for the Vikings on Saturday night before he falls asleep.
“Yeah, that's gonna be weird because I'm a big Boise State fan,’’ he said. “Of course, blood’s thicker than water.’’
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at email@example.com.