It used to be the gospel that when you talked about Boise State football, you talked about a blue carpet on campus and Chris Petersen at the controls of the Broncos offense.
Now, the blue carpet remains, several good college players make a living in the NFL, and Petersen left his cushy job in the Potato State for Washington - taking his offensive firepower with him. Enter the Bryan Harsin era of Boise State football.
Boise State football finished the 2013 season with an 8-5 overall record. It is the worst record the Broncos have had since going 6-5 overall as members of the Big West in 1998. While Harsin hopes to continue to make the Broncos a powerhouse outfit in the Mountain West, the team still needs to answer a few questions heading into 2014.
Here is a look at the Broncos with spring football having already started.
What about the new coaching staff?
Harsin spent two seasons honing his craft under Mack Brown in Texas, and another year as head coach of Sun Belt darling Arkansas State. So, there are bound to be a few new wrinkles added to the playbook this off-season.
"You know, there's more on the quarterback, there's more on the receivers, there's more on the defense, there's just more, and plus it's different. You know, so different is also gonna feel like more. And I know this about watching these guys, and watching them prepare. They can handle a lot, I'm not concerned about that. They know how to prepare, they work at it, and you know we have smart football players," said Harsin.
Is Rypien the answer?
Like father like son. Harsin now has a notable recruit at a crucial position. Brett Rypien, a 4-star quarterback. It could not come at a better time. This is the type of signing that will keep fans asking about recruting and continue to build a buzz on campus. If Rypien is as good as his father, the offense is in good hands.
Who steps up as a leader on this team?
In 2012, the Broncos overachieved. No one expected them to go 11-2, but they did. They played with heart and rarely let down. In 2013, the same kind of fight was not visible in the 8-5 Broncos. Sure, there were moments, but it just seemed to be lacking. With the new coaching staff and new revruits and transfers who steps up to be the vocal leader on this team?
Depth at running back?
You won't find a Doug Martin amongst them. Senior Derrick Thomas, who endured a rocky transition from junior college, and junior Jack Fields, a wildly productive high school player who has struggled to deliver at the college level, have seized the second chance to make a first impression granted by the new coaching staff.
Can this team make good in 2014 and beyond?
Before the 2013 season Boise State had just 12 seasons with five losses or more in a single year. The program has also achieved a national championship at the junior college and I-AA levels, and won several conference titles along the way.
The reason for such success is not the result of any one person, but rather a collection of standards and a collective of fans, players, boosters, administrators, coaches and anyone else who has cheered for, prayed for or encouraged the Broncos along the way.