JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Former Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin hopes to bring some stability to Arkansas State as its new coach.
Harsin was introduced as the new coach of the Red Wolves on Wednesday — one day after he agreed to leave the Longhorns and replace former Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn.
The former Boise State assistant coach becomes the third head coach in as many years for the two-time Sun Belt Conference champion Red Wolves. Malzahn left after one season to take over Auburn last week, while current Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze did the same two years ago.
"It was the right time," Harsin said at a news conference in Jonesboro. "I had a purpose, and this was the opportunity and the chance that I've been looking for and wanting to be a part of and to be a part of this family and this team and this community. I'm excited to be here."
The 35-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Longhorns, but he'll begin work immediately with the Red Wolves and won't coach Texas during the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State.
The Longhorns, who were 16-9 the last two seasons, will turn over play-calling duties to co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.
"Brian has done a tremendous job for us, and we appreciate all the energy he's poured into our program the past two seasons," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He's a bright young coach with great enthusiasm and passion for the kids and the game. He'll do a tremendous job at Arkansas State."
Arkansas State will continue preparations for the GoDaddy.com Bowl on Jan. 6 against Kent State. The Red Wolves, who are 19-6 the last two seasons, will also begin to prepare for life under another new coach.
Since Malzahn left for Auburn last week, Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said he conducted a nationwide search for a replacement. He said the search included former NFL and BCS championship head coaches, but it was Harsin's sincere interest in the job — and his family — that "made it very easy when we started zeroing in."
"When we find who we want, we go get them," Arkansas State president Chuck Welch said. "We've identified the best and brightest around the country, and we've made it happen."
Mohajir flew to Austin on Tuesday to meet with Harsin, who spent the bulk of his coaching career at Boise State before being hired by Texas two years ago. The athletic director said it was important to hire someone who would remain with the program for more than one season, a thought that's reflected in Harsin's contract.