Spencer Danielson said Monday that he has his dream job.
Boise State promoted Danielson from interim to head coach Sunday, making him the 12th football coach in program history. He replaced former boss Andy Avalos, who was fired on Nov. 12.
Danielson, who has spent the past three years as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator, said Monday during his introductory press conference that the people at the university and in the community are what make this his dream career destination.
“When we moved here seven years ago, this place opened its arms to me and my family from day one,” said Danielson, joking that the community really embraced he and his wife, Raechel, after they got rid of their California license plates.
After Danielson was presented with a No. 12 jersey on Monday, he thanked everyone from God to Boise State’s leaders and his players. He gave a nod to the past and thanked former Boise State coaches, including Dirk Keotter, who was in attendance in the Stueckle Sky Center; Chris Petersen; Bryan Harsin, who first hired him at Boise State; and Avalos.
“I understand the seat I’m taking over,” Danielson said. “The foundation is laid here. It is my job to continue to carry the mantle and continue to push forward.”
Breaking down the search
Boise State President Marlene Tromp said Monday that she tasked Athletic Director Jeramiah Dickey with scouring the country to find the best possible candidates for the job. After a three-week search, Dickey said he came to the conclusion that the best man for the job was already running the program on an interim basis.
“Spencer was honest and transparent from the beginning of the process,” Dickey said Monday. “We knew this was a job he was interested in and knew he loved these kids. That’s why we made him interim. I can’t think of a better man to lead this program into the future.”
Dickey said he knew his decision since sitting down with Danielson for an official interview last Thursday.
“I’d been praying for a burning bush, and they don’t always show up the way you think they will,” Dickey said. “At that point, I was struggling, but as Spencer spoke about love being an action, I was holding back tears as he answered.”
Danielson is now the second football coach Dickey has hired since he replaced Curt Apsey in 2021. The search for Harsin’s replacement was ongoing when Dickey got to Boise State, and he was handed a list of applicants in his first couple of days on the job.
Dickey hired Avalos barely a week after landing in Boise. This time around, he said he was sure to turn over more stones, even though he already knew the man Boise State players, coaches and alumni wanted him to hire.
“It was important to go through a process and for someone to earn this because of what we represent,” Dickey said.
Dickey said he met with a group of Boise State players the day after firing Avalos. They made it clear they wanted Danielson. Dickey also said he’s heard from countless former players and donors who threw their support behind the Broncos’ former defensive coordinator.
Dickey said he didn’t want to allow emotion to dictate the hire, though. And he said support from inside the program was not the determining factor in his decision to hire a 35-year-old who is now a head coach for the first time. Only two college football head coaches are younger.
He also said the way the players rallied around Danielson the past three weeks bodes well for the future.
“Those kids play for him, they play for each other and they play for Bronco Nation,” Dickey said. “It matters to them.”
Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice on new head football coach Spencer Danielson. pic.twitter.com/2hRTeNxsnB
— Ron Counts (@Ron_BroncoBeat) December 4, 2023
Time to go to work
Danielson, who came to Boise State as a graduate assistant in 2017, is now running the program. He’s moving into the big office and has plenty of big decisions to make.
Those decisions begin with figuring out how to keep this Boise State team together and out of the transfer portal, which opened for players across the country on Monday. Because of an NCAA rule that opens a 30-day window to transfer when a coach is fired, Boise State players could have put their name in the portal starting Nov. 12.
Three have decided to transfer. Wide receiver Eric McAlister left the team in early November and officially entered the portal on Nov. 27. Edge rusher Kivon Wright announced he was transferring on Sunday, and quarterback Taylen Green announced that he was in the portal shortly after Danielson’s introductory press conference ended on Monday.
Danielson said he’s focused on making sure more players don’t follow suit.
“Goal No. 1, priority No. 1, is to keep our players, not go get better players,” he said. “We have to do that, too, but our No. 1 goal is to keep our players here.”
Will Ashton Jeanty, coaches stay?
One player in particular Danielson wants to keep around is running back Ashton Jeanty, who was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year and leads the Broncos with 1,262 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns (14 rushing, 5 receiving).
“He loves Boise State, he loves Boise, Idaho, and more importantly, he loves his teammate,” Danielson said. “We’re working through the NIL process, the collective and everything holistically to make sure we find the best process to keep all our players here.
“I want players who want to be here because Boise State is different. If you want to be here, we’re going to find a way to make it work.”
Next on Danielson’s agenda will be fleshing out his staff. He said he began evaluating those assistant coaches on Sunday, and one of his first hires will be a new defensive coordinator.
Danielson said he’ll take a hands-off approach as much as possible with coaches.
“I’m going to hire the right coaches, empower them and trust them on offense, defense and special teams,” Danielson said. “It’s my job to empower them, and then trust them and their ideas for our players.”
Danielson said he won’t make any new hires until after Boise State plays in the LA Bowl on Dec. 16.