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Boise State hires Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator: Veteran coach returns to program for third time

Dirk Koetter is returning to Boise State once again to serve as offensive coordinator under first-year head coach Spencer Danielson, the team announced Wednesday. Koetter, 65, is an Idaho native who coached the Broncos from 1998-2000 before going on to serve as head coach for Arizona State and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also served on Boise State’s staff in 2022.

Hiring Koetter is a shrewd move for Danielson, 35, who comes from a defensive background entering his first year as a full-time coach. In Koetter, he will have a respected offensive mind with vast head coaching experience to lean on as Boise State gears up for a run at the newly expanded 12-team College Football Playoff.

“I am happy to be back, even if I didn’t see this coming,” Koetter said in a statement. “When Spencer Danielson offered me this opportunity, I said yes for four reasons with the first being my utmost belief in and respect for Coach D and what he is building here. It was also because of my respect for the tradition of Bronco Football and how highly I think of this coaching staff. Last, but not least, it was how impressed I was with what this team did in its run last year to a Mountain West championship. That attitude, determination and work ethic is the exact type of program Boise State is supposed to be and to which I want to contribute.”

Koetter began the 2022 season as an offensive analyst for Boise State under former coach Andy Avalos before taking over offensive coordinator duties midway through the season. The Broncos appeared in the Mountain West Championship Game and finished 10-4, but Koetter made it clear at the time he didn’t see it as a long-term role.

“I’ve already said my goodbyes to football once and was happy without it,” Koetter said before Boise State’s appearance in the 2022 Frisco Bowl. “You know, it’s somebody else’s time, but I’ve enjoyed spending time around these players and these coaches.”

But Koetter is the epitome of a coaching lifer, having worked his way from the high school ranks in Idaho to become an NFL head coach with the Buccaneers from 2016-18. Now, he is answering the call once more with a program that gave him his first shot to be a head coach more than a quarter-century ago.

Working with Malachi Nelson

There are six quarterbacks listed on Boise State’s 2024 roster entering spring practice, including five who were considered three-star prospects or better coming out of high school. None are more intriguing than Malachi Nelson.

Ranked a five-star prospect and the No. 5 overall quarterback in the Class of 2023, Nelson appeared in one game at USC as a true freshman last season before transferring to Boise State. He’s listed as a redshirt freshman and could be the program’s quarterback of the future if he’s able to beat out a deep group of competitors.

Redshirt sophomore Maddux Madsen is the leading returning passer after completing 81 of 132 passes for 1,191 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions last season. Redshirt freshman CJ Tiller and redshirt junior Colt Fulton have also logged game action for Boise State. True freshman Kaleb Annett ranked as a three-star prospect in the 2024 recruiting class.

Nelson is the obvious headliner of the group, but Koetter will play a major role in facilitating the future of the position at Boise State, and he has a recent track record of quality quarterback development.

Koetter’s past work

The quarterback job at Boise State is open after Taylen Green transferred to Arkansas following an up-and-down stint with the Broncos. Green blossomed while working with Koetter in 2022 but struggled to recapture his form early in the 2023 season under coordinator Bush Hamdan, who is now the offensive coordinator at Kentucky.

Koetter’s quality work in the second half of the 2022 season demonstrated his acumen. It was his first time working in college football since leaving his post as Arizona State’s coach after the 2006 season to be offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He remained in the NFL through the 2020 season before stepping away in 2021. 

He joined the Boise State staff as an analyst under Avalos in 2022 as his son, Davis Koetter, played his final season as a receiver. Avalos soon elevated Koetter to offensive coordinator, and the move paid off as Boise State finished 10-4 (8-0 Mountain West) with a loss to Fresno State in the Mountain West title game followed by a win in the Frisco Bowl.

Another return to Boise 

Koetter was out of coaching again last season while Hamdan, a former Boise State quarterback, assumed the offensive coordinator job. Ultimately, Avalos was fired in November after a 5-5 start, and Danielson was named the full-time head coach in December after leading the team to a 3-1 finish, which included a 44-20 win over UNLV in the MWC title game.

Danielson’s position as a first-time head coach is a position with which Koetter can relate. After working as Oregon’s offensive coordinator in 1996 and 1997, Koetter landed his first college head coaching position with Boise State for the 1998 season and helped launch the program into national relevance early in its time at the FBS level. He went 26-10 in his three seasons, finishing with a pair of 10-win campaigns before leaving for the Arizona State gig and then migrating to the NFL.

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