That was my reaction when I heard the news Tuesday night. Auburn did something Auburn doesn’t do very often. They hired a coach outside of their comfort zone. They went to Boise, Idaho and plucked away an alum with 3 conference titles to his name. It’s a bold move.
Bryan Harsin has spent the majority of his career at his alma mater of Boise State. He’s been integral to the success of that program taking over as offensive coordinator in 2006 until 2010 and returning to be head coach in 2014. He’s won a lot of football games and engineered a number of successful offenses.
He’s also a well respected QB developer. His rise to OC and QB coach coincided with Kellen Moore’s arrival in Boise. He signed Brett Rypien, a 4-star QB prospect out of Washington who held offers from a number of PAC-12 and SEC programs, when he returned as head coach. When Rypien graduated in 2018 he had set the Mountain West Conference records for passing yards, completions and 300 yard passing performances. Bo NIx and Dematrius Davis are in good hands.
But no hire is perfect and Harsin comes with plenty of question marks. While he’s recruited at a high level at Boise State signing the #1 class in the MWC every year of his tenure, the SEC West is a different beast. Can he elevate Auburn’s recruiting from that 7-12 range to the 3-7? Can he beat Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Ed Orgeron and Dabo Swinney for kids those programs really want? Those are questions that won’t be answered until the 2022 cycle unfolds.
However, for now I can’t help but feel excited. Auburn is heading in a new direction under a head coach with a history of winning. Auburn made a bold move to part ways with Gus Malzahn. A coach who had won a national championship as offensive coordinator, won an SEC Championship as head coach, took Auburn to another national championship as head coach and never had a losing season. They agreed to pay a $21 million buyout to do it.
You don’t make that move lightly.
I don’t know if Harsin is the answer. I don’t know if he will elevate the program. I don’t know if he is an upgrade over Gus Malzahn or not. But he’s the new head coach of Auburn’s football program and I for one am excited to see what this new world has in store for the Tigers.