Bryan Harsin reportedly interviewed for the opening at Oregon before the school promoted Mario Cristobal. Today, his Boise State team beat the Ducks handily.
Oregon has had its head coaching job open two years in a row, and according to The Oregonian‘s John Canzano, Bryan Harsin has pursued the job both times.
Last year, after the Ducks fired Mark Helfrich, it chose USF’s Willie Taggart over Harsin. This year, after Taggart’s abrupt departure to Florida State, Harsin interviewed for the Ducks opening once again. Oregon elected to promote from within instead, elevating offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal to the full-time head coach.
Canzano wrote about the awkward situation ahead of today’s Las Vegas Bowl between Harsin’s Broncos and Cristobal’s Ducks.
Yeah, this rivalry has some bad blood. There’s some bad history. There’s some shared frustration, too. There’s good reason that both teams badly want not just to beat the opponent on Saturday, but throttle them. Recruits are watching. The country is watching. Hout and Blount will watch, I’ll bet. And that’s not even including the subplot of that “might have been icy” handshake between Harsin and Cristobal.
They both interviewed for the Oregon job last week. Cristobal got it, and was officially named one week to the day before the final Las Vegas Bowl news conference. Harsin struck out for the second try in two years. Couldn’t help but be hit by the oddity of seeing both men seated alongside each other at the ballroom inside the Hard Rock Hotel. Had the hire gone differently, Harsin might have been one seat to the left, alongside Justin Herbert and Dye.
Today’s game may have left some Ducks fans wondering what might have been.
Boise State jumped all over Oregon, holding a 24-0 lead midway through the second quarter. It took less than a quarter for some frustrated Ducks fans on Twitter to question if Cristobal is the man for the job.
Oregon wound up battling back in the second half, and kept things mostly respectable, but the Ducks still fell 38-28. Boise State outgained Oregon 481 yards to 285, held Oregon to just over 23 minutes of possession, and forced four turnovers.
Bowl games have a lot of inherent randomness, and Cristobal shouldn’t be judged on his first game coming in this setting. Still, it is a weird spot for the Ducks to lose so definitively to a head coach that clearly wanted the opportunity to take that job.
If Bryan Harsin keeps Boise State, his alma mater, rolling, he will certainly get a chance at another premier job. In four years as Broncos head coach, he is 42-12, and has a 3-1 record in bowls with two coming against Pac-12 programs.