Will Boise State stay relevant in the college football universe now that Chris Petersen has left?
This is a question that has been asked numerous times by several people in the weeks since Petersen's departure. Even the most loyal fans of the Broncos, if they are honest, worry what the future will look like in a post-Petersen era.
The truth is, no one really knows.
However, since early December when Petersen announced that he was leaving to take on the head coaching duties at the University of Washington, things have been progressing nicely in Boise.
First, the school reacted swiftly to the situation under the leadership of University President Bob Kustra and Athletic Director Mark Coyle. From the time Petersen announced he was leaving on December 6, to the time of the announcement that Boise State had hired Bryan Harsin as the new head coach of the Broncos, only five days had transpired.
In that time, the administration had interviewed several candidates and made a final decision to hire Harsin, which seems to be a very good choice, and one that fans generally greeted with optimism.
Boise State has historically had a good football program. In recent years, however, it was elevated under Petersen's leadership to a level no one could have imagined. It will now be Harsin's job to keep the progress going.
That task won't be easy, but Harsin will have many tools that Petersen didn't have when he took over the job from Dan Hawkins in 2006.
The university has budgeted far more for coaching staff salaries since that time, and, as a result, Harsin was able to hire a much more experienced coaching staff than Petersen did in his first season.
Harsin also has an expanded stadium, more booster support, more television exposure, more name brand recognition and football facilities that are absolutely incredible.
It is all a far cry from what Petersen inherited.
Still, Harsin will also have to compete with expectations that are far greater than they were in 2006, and a giant Chris Petersen shadow that now hovers over Bronco Stadium.
The new coach does seem up to the task, and since being named head coach, he has filled his assistant coaches roster with several excellent men, many of whom have ties to the school in some way. He has also been doing what he can to get all of Bronco Nation excited.
Plenty of room left on this wall for that next great one...Boise State is the destination for championship QB's! pic.twitter.com/45I8VpHv8f— Coach Mike Sanford (@SanfordBSU) January 8, 2014
In the coming months the true test will come. The spring game will give some indication of the direction of the program, as will fall camp. However, it won't be until the 2014 college football season commences that folks will be able to see how Harsin and his staff are doing.
As to the question of future relevance, it doesn't seem that Boise State fans will have to worry about that.
Chris Petersen left the program in a much better place than he found it. The same can be said for Dan Hawkins and the coach before him, Dirk Koetter.
At every opportunity, the university has added finances, facilities and tools to the program to insure that the progress would continue. Along the way, the reputation of the football program has been elevated, and Boise State has become a household name.
Nothing head coach Bryan Harsin has done thus far gives any indication that this is a program in decline.
Will there be failures along the way? Of course there will be. However, success comes as a result of learning from mistakes.
Theodore Roosevelt once said:
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.
Bryan Harsin's new motto of "attack the future" has been quoted quite a bit lately in Bronco Nation. It is something that the new coach seems committed to doing, which should give Boise State fans comfort.
After all, isn't that much better than living in the past?
The past is what made Boise State relevant, but it will be the future that will determine to what heights the program will climb. Under the leadership of Harsin, the Broncos seem poised to take another step on the staircase of ascension.