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Sports >  NCAA football

Former Boise State player, assistant coach Andy Avalos returning as head coach

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 8, 2021

Boise State cornerback Avery Williams (26) and Boise State cornerback Tyric LeBeauf (22) high five as they lead the Boise State on to the field before the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Boise, Idaho.   (Associated Press)
Boise State cornerback Avery Williams (26) and Boise State cornerback Tyric LeBeauf (22) high five as they lead the Boise State on to the field before the first half of an NCAA college football game against New Mexico Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Boise, Idaho.  (Associated Press)
By Ron Counts Idaho Statesman

BOISE – One of the most productive linebackers in Boise State history will begin his head coaching career with the same program where he still ranks No. 5 all time with 355 career tackles.

Boise State is finalizing a deal to make Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos its new head football coach, multiple sources told the Idaho Statesman on Friday. He replaces Bryan Harsin, who was introduced as Auburn’s new coach on Christmas Eve.

Avalos is the first person of color hired as head football coach in program history. He beat out a field that reportedly included Montana State head coach Jeff Choate, Florida offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

He is the sixth Latino head college football coach in the country, and third in the Mountain West, joining Manny Diaz at Miami, Dave Aranda at Baylor, Mario Cristobal at Oregon, Marcus Arroyo at UNLV and Danny Gonzalez at New Mexico.

New Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey flew to Bozeman and Eugene on Thursday to meet with Choate and Avalos.

Harsin kept Avalos on staff when he took over at Boise State in 2014 and promoted him to defensive coordinator in 2016. Avalos left for Oregon to be the defensive coordinator there following the 2018 season.

Avalos played at Boise State from 2000 to 2004 and led the Broncos in tackles in each of his final three seasons. He was an assistant coach for the Broncos from 2012 to 2015, focusing on defensive line and linebackers, before he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

In each of his three seasons as Boise State’s defensive coordinator, the Broncos finished in the top four in the Mountain West in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and third-down defense.

Over Avalos’ seven seasons at Boise State, the defense ranked in the top 25 nationally in turnovers forced six times, including top-10 performances in 2012 and 2014. The Broncos forced 31 turnovers in 2014 and 2015.

Boise State has struggled to create turnovers the past two seasons, and finished with just three in seven games last fall.

In 2019 — his first season as Oregon’s defensive coordinator — Avalos was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award, which goes to the top assistant coach in the country. The Ducks gave up just 16.5 points a game that season, which ranked No. 9 nationally and No. 2 in the Pac-12. They led the conference in sacks (41), tackles for loss (97) and interceptions (20).

Avalos has connections to several of Boise State’s current assistant coaches, including co-defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson, who has been rumored to be considering a move to Auburn but developed a close relationship with Avalos during his final two seasons with the Broncos.

Danielson is a potential candidate to be Avalos’ defensive coordinator.

Avalos played with safeties coach Gabe Franklin, who was a defensive back at Boise State from 2001 to 2004, and the duo coached together at Boise State in 2017-18. Cornerbacks coach Jalil Brown was also on the Broncos’ staff in 2017 as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

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