Boise State hires Bryan Harsin

Boise State has hired former assistant Bryan Harsin as its new head coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Athletic director Mark Coyle made the announcement official, calling Harsin one of the top young coaches in the country. The 37-year-old moves from Arkansas State to take over for Chris Petersen, who left last week for Washington.

"We're coming home," Harsin said in a statement issued by the university. "One of the hardest decisions we ever made was leaving Boise. We did that so I could become a better coach, so I could one day have the opportunity to return as head coach -- that day has arrived."

Harsin's five-year contract is valued at $6.5 million. He will be paid a salary of $1 million each of the first two years, with subsequent raises of $1.3 million, $1.55 million and $1.65 million in the final year.

Harsin previously worked at Boise State from 2001-10, and was offensive coordinator for the Broncos from 2006-10 before being hired by Texas three years ago. He was co-offensive coordinator at Texas prior to replacing current Auburn coach Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State.

"We are extremely excited in our selection of Bryan Harsin as the next head football coach at Boise State," Coyle said. "Bryan is one of the top young head coaches in college football and we are thrilled to bring him back to Boise to lead the Bronco program."

Harsin takes over a Boise State team that posted its worst record in nearly a decade despite projections it would win the Mountain West Conference title. Hurt by injuries to its starting quarterback and a young defense, the Broncos finished 8-4 and missed out on the conference title game.

"I appreciate the history and tradition of the Boise State program," said Harsin, a graduate of Capitol High in Boise. "I embrace the success but won't rest on it. We will build this program every day with a sense of urgency."

Harsin led the Red Wolves to the GoDaddy Bowl after a 7-5 season -- including a 5-2 mark in the Sun Belt Conference. He will not coach the team when it faces Ball State on Jan. 5 in Mobile, Ala.

It was during Harsin's run as offensive coordinator at Boise State that the Broncos put together their most impressive string of victories and emerged as a BCS contender.

He oversaw an offense led on the field by quarterback Kellen Moore, who won 50 games as a starter to become college football's winningest quarterback. During his five years as offensive coordinator, the Broncos put together a 61-5 record, won two BCS bowls and won at least 12 games in four seasons.

He should also be familiar with many of the Broncos' upperclassmen, including junior quarterback Grant Hedrick, who was recruited by Harsin before the coach left for Texas.

His five-year contract at Arkansas State carries a $1.75 million buyout clause if he stepped away in the first year of the deal. At the time of Harsin's hiring, Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said it was important to get someone who would remain with the program for more than one season.

The Red Wolves have had three straight one-and-done coaches: Hugh Freeze, Malzahn and Harsin.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.