After some speculation, it was announced on Tuesday night that longtime Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin had agreed to become the newest head coach at Auburn, replacing the recently fired Gus Malzahn. Harsin just finished his seventh season as the Broncos head coach and compiled a 69-19 record there.
But what does this have to do with the Dallas Cowboys? Well, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore - the most legendary quarterback in program history - has quickly popped up as an early favorite to land the job. His name was the first one mentioned by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic and Stewart Mandel, editor-in-chief of The Athletic, was quick to make the connection as well:
If Kellen Moore's not the next Boise State head coach by tomorrow, we're rioting.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 22, 2020
Moore, of course, still has two games left with the Cowboys this season and potentially more if Dallas manages to make the playoffs, and likely wouldn’t depart the team before the season is over if something did happen. Although if Boise State identifies him as their guy, and Moore indicates he’d be willing to accept the job, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Boise State to simply wait a few weeks before making it official.
It would be quite a cap on the meteoric rise of Moore’s coaching career. He’s about to finish just his third season as a coach, and becoming a head coach of a well-established college football program (even if it’s a Group of Five school) would be quite the accomplishment.
It wouldn’t be totally surprising though. Last year, Moore’s first as the Cowboys offensive coordinator, the team ranked sixth in points, first in yards, first in yards per play, and second in offensive DVOA. The offense has taken a big step back this year in every category, largely due to an innumerable amount of injuries to key players, but his offense was red hot before Dak Prescott’s injury; the Cowboys were averaging nearly 33 points and 488 yards a game through those first five games.
It also wouldn’t be the first time Moore has considered going to the college ranks. Last year when Mike McCarthy was filling out his coaching staff, Moore apparently was in the running to be the offensive coordinator at the University of Washington where his head coach from his playing days at Boise State worked before ultimately agreeing to remain in Dallas and call plays under McCarthy.
Now, Moore mayhave the opportunity to be the head coach at his alma mater, with a fan base that universally adores him. That’s the kind of opportunity that rarely comes along for any coach, let alone someone as young as Moore. It’s unclear if he would be seriously interested or if Moore prefers to remain in the NFL, but this is probably the most attractive college football job Moore will ever find, given his connection to the school.
Of course, it’s also unclear if Boise State would even offer him the job. His youth and inexperience is a question mark, and his lack of college coaching would bring up questions about his ability to successfully recruit. However, Moore does fit the mold of recent Boise State head coaches. When Dan Hawkins left Boise State for Colorado back in 2006, offensive coordinator Chris Petersen was promoted. When Petersen left for Washington in 2014, Harsin (then the head coach of Arkansas State) was hired after spending ten years with the Broncos under both Hawkins and Petersen.
While Moore never coached under any of those aforementioned coaches, he did play for them. As a four-year starter from 2009-2011 with Harsin serving as his offensive coordinator for the first three of those years, Moore threw for 14,667 passing yards, 142 touchdowns, and just 28 interceptions. His 50-3 record as a starter helped elevate the program to new heights, as well as setting most program records in addition to some NCAA records.
Right now it’s all just speculation, since Harsin to Auburn was just announced and Boise State is very much in the early stages of their coaching search. But this is something the Cowboys will definitely be monitoring, and it will be up to McCarthy and Jerry Jones to navigate this situation successfully if they hope to keep Moore in Dallas.