Andy Avalos was still in the middle of his playing career at Boise State when he was first told coaching was in his future.
''I said, `No, I'm not,''' Avalos recalled. ''At that point in my life, I had tremendous love and obviously passion for the game. It took no more than six months of being done at Boise State as a student athlete to realize that I did miss the game.''
Nearly 20 years after Dan Hawkins first believed Avalos would be a coach, the 39-year-old was introduced as the new head coach at his alma mater on Sunday.
Avalos agreed to a five-year deal to replace Bryan Harsin at Boise State that will begin at $1.4 million per season with $75,000 increases starting in the second year of the deal. Avalos can earn incentives of up to $200,000 per season, and will have a $2.1 million salary pool for his assistants.
The hiring of Avalos continues Boise State's trend of keeping the job running the program within the Broncos family. Boise State has hired either an assistant within the program or a former player to run the show dating to Dirk Koetter taking over in 1998.
''I knew coming in who our family wanted, but it was also important for me to do a national search,'' new Boise State athletic director Jeramiah Dickey said. ''We're a national brand, I think, in terms of the expectations we have of the program and how we want to move forward. I did not want to settle, and I wanted to make sure that we found the right person for this job. I believe we did that.''
Avalos played for the Broncos from 2001-05 and later returned as a defensive assistant and took over as defensive coordinator in 2016. For the past two seasons, he has been the defensive coordinator at Oregon.
''I told the players yesterday they're my brothers, too,'' Avalos said. ''I understand the coach-player relationship and all that, but they're my brothers. I'm a part of their brotherhood. And that's important to me.''
Avalos will be taking over at a time Boise State is in flux. The program has remained the benchmark for most Group of Five programs, and Boise State went 69-19 under Harsin, won three Mountain West championships and claimed a Fiesta Bowl title in Harsin's first season. Harsin left to become the head coach at Auburn.
Boise State went 5-2 this season and lost to San Jose State in the Mountain West title game.
But there have been rumblings of unhappiness with the Broncos' current situation in the Mountain West. The Broncos have not played in a New Year's Six bowl game since 2014 and have seen a number of programs in the American - Cincinnati, UCF, Memphis - pull even or surpass Boise State in terms of prominence and recent success among the Group of Five schools.
Avalos said the long-term direction of the program will be part of his conversations moving forward.
''Those are all discussions to be to be had here, and to collaborate and align ourselves with our leadership and really truly find out what is the best path,'' Avalos said. ''What should Boise State do next? Well, I know what we need to do right now and that's what we're going to focus on.''
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25