There was a time not so long ago when the Boise State football coaching tree had a Charlie Brown problem.
A couple of twigs, a dying branch, maybe a slight touch of green. Droopy and desperate for water. Fragile foundation. One lonely ornament dangling for attention.
As Boise State made the transition from I-AA to FBS in the mid-1990s, the Broncos had very few family connections in the coaching world — maybe a couple in the NFL, maybe one or two on college staffs.
The Boise State coaching tree was starving — with no sappy holiday television special to beef up its ego.
Today, more than 20 years and 200-plus wins later, the Boise State football coaching tree is a growing and spectacular beauty — a true Redwood loaded with shining talent and bright futures. There are roughly 35-40 former players and coaches on the list, all actively coaching Division I or professional football.
The list includes two monster names — Kellen Moore and Andy Avalos.
Two of the most popular players in Boise State football history.
And, now, two of the top candidates to replace Bryan Harsin, who left last week for Auburn.
Multiple sources have told the Idaho Press and KTIK Sports Radio that Moore and Avalos — and their families — have high interest in the Boise State vacancy. Both had conversations and/or interviews in the past week with Boise State parties, its search firm and consultants, including Chris Petersen. Yes, that Chris Petersen.
Boise State is expected to make a formal announcement in the next few days, according to multiple sources.
Moore, the winningest quarterback in college football history who began engineering his coaching career in grade school, is the offensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys.
Avalos, a dynamic linebacker and criminal justice major who thought about a career in law enforcement before diving into coaching, is the defensive coordinator at Oregon.
Both are highly successful.
Both are young, dynamic personalities — in different ways.
Both would fire up a fan base decimated by losing a coach, losing big games over the years, not playing in big bowl games, conference issues, cash issues, and all the COVID-19 nonsense of 2020.
There may be a third candidate involved in the search, or more. A final decision is in the hands of new university president Marlene Tromp, who has very little football background, former Missouri athletic director/current consultant Mike Alden, and the national search firm of Collegiate Sports Associates.
Anyone have any idea what that crew will decide? With very little Boise State history, knowledge and emotional attachment in that group, anything is possible.
The bigger, better, more important question:
Avalos or Moore ... who do YOU want?
Which hire sets up Boise State football for instant and long-term success? Which one helps the Broncos’ continued push for Group of Five relevancy? Which one can push Boise State into big bowl games and a Power Five conference?
Before those questions are answered, one must remember that the Boise State football gig isn’t what it used to be. At least right now. And one reason why Harsin bolted for the SEC.
The university has no athletic director — that hire should happen during the first part of 2021.
The university has a new president — and she’s in charge of an athletic department that is broke.
The east-side renovation of Albertsons Stadium has been halted.
Boise State, including fans, has a fractured relationship with the Mountain West Conference. In part, because of Harsin’s recent email barrage, and because of the American Athletic’s surge past the Mountain West in the conference race for G5 supremacy.
The next Boise State coach needs to win games, typically not a problem around here.
More important, the next coach needs to inspire millions of dollars in cash and rivers of resources to build, push and perfect the program, on and off the field.
Avalos might be more prepared to run a college program right now, to recruit college students-athletes, to win games right away. And do so with pizzazz and energy.
Moore, a more cerebral coach with less public pizzazz and energy than Avalos, has more history and tradition at Boise State — and his uber-popularity will instantly fire up Bronco Nation.
Yes, there’s a chance for a Ty Detmer-BYU debacle and divorce, but anything involving Moore is worth taking a risk.
He could attract 30,000 season-ticket holders.
He could raise millions to renovate Albertsons Stadium — and beyond.
He has massive coaching connections all over this country — college and professional.
And, as we’ll never forget, he was 50-3 as a college quarterback.
It’s comforting that Boise State has a fantastic candidate in Avalos.
But, IMO, Boise State has no choice but to hire Moore, the biggest and most successful winner in the history of the program.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.