JONESBORO Arkansas State's Red Wolves football team has a new head coach.
ASU System President Charles Welch and Athletic Director Terry Mohajir introduced former Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, 35, as the Red Wolves' new leader in a Wednesday afternoon press conference. The announcement was made in front of nearly 300 fans and members of the media at The Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
Harsin, a 2009 Broyles Award finalist, entered the auditorium to a chorus of howls and applause, greeting fans and media with a "howl yes" in his opening remarks.
"I knew I wanted it, there was no doubt," Harsin said of head coaching position at ASU. "You could hear..the other candidates that Terry talked about with the opportunity to be here, there's a buzz about Arkansas State. And there's two [Sun Belt] conference championships, and this program continuing to show on a stage that they have built and continued to build towards winning."
During his 20-minute press conference, Harsin said that his time at Boise State under coaches such as Chris Petersen served him well when the time came to make a move to the head coaching ranks. Harsin served as offensive coordinator under Petersen for five seasons, including during the Broncos' Fiesta Bowl victory in 2007. Harsin, a Boise, Idaho native, spent a total of 10 seasons as coach at Boise State before spending the last two seasons at Texas.
Harsin added he would not be coaching the No. 23 Longhorns, who went 8-4 this season, in the Alamo Bowl against No. 13 Oregon State on Dec. 29 in San Antonio, Texas.
Harsin will make a yearly base salary of $700,000 over five years in his contract with $1.75 million buyout clause should Harsin leave before his contract is up. As far as assistants, Harsin will be allocated a pool of $750,000 to divide among nine on-field assistants. Harsin's staff has yet to be selected.
Harsin said he expects to run a high-tempo offense similar those run by the previous two Arkansas State coaches, Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn, who both left after one season to become head coaches at Southeastern Conference programs.
"To carry over what the former coaches, coach Freeze, coach Malzahn, and what they've done here, and the succes they had and continue to build in that area and to continue to build with what they've started, and to continue to make it better," Harsin said. "That's what we plan to do."
The question was posed to both Mohajir and Harsin about the recent history of one-year coaches having success and leaving for higher-profile jobs. Both said they are committed to building the Red Wolves program and that Harsin's history at Boise State, where he spent 14 total years as a player and coach, shows he is committed to developing a program rather than leaving for greener pastures when he sees success.
"Just his background [set him apart]," Mohajir said. "His experience, his playing-calling. You've seen that at one of the very best programs in the country, a program that he had to build [at Boise State]. He's had budget challenges before and still built. He's developed quarterbacks, loved players, he's a former player himself. Has called plays at an emerging program and at the highest level [at Texas]."
ASU players also sat in on the press conference, with running back David Oku and safety Sterling Young saying they were just happy to having the coaching search over so they could focus on the bowl game.
During his two seasons at Texas, Harsin oversaw the development of quarterbacks and served as the chief play caller. Texas ranked No. 37 nationally in total offense at 441 yards per game and 24th in scoring at 36.1 points per game.
The hire comes a week after former coach Gus Malzahn left ASU for Auburn.
Read the full story in tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
ArkansasOnline's David Harten and the Democrat-Gazette's Matt Harris contributed to this story.