On Christmas Eve, I gave a breakdown on five possible candidates that could be targeted for Auburn’s open offensive coordinator position. Today, we will take a look at five defensive coordinator targets.
While Harsin is an offensive minded coach, he’s done an equally good job fielding top caliber defenses while head coach in Boise. Twice his defensive units have ranked in the top 20 per SP+ and only once in his seven seasons as head coach did it fall outside the top 50 and that was his first year.
Needless to say, Auburn won’t be abandoning good defense in pursuit of more explosive offense.
Here’s a look at five candidates I am monitoring over the coming days. Again this is an educated guess on my part so don’t take it as these are the ONLY candidates.
Andy Avalos (Oregon Defensive Coordinator)
I strongly suspect the #1 name on Harsin’s DC shortlist is Andy Avalos. Avalos was a star linebacker for Boise State in the early 2000s totaling 365 tackles in his career. He joined the Boise staff in 2012 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2016 by Bryan Harsin. After two solid seasons running the Bronco defense, Mario Cristobal hired him away to Eugene where he has had tremendous success. Per SP+, the Ducks’ defense ranked #50 in 2018. In 2019? They jumped all the way up to #8. A good recruiter and an elite schemer, Avalos would be a home run hire for the Tigers. However, he’s considered one of the top candidates to replace Harsin at Boise State. If he fails to get that job then expect a bidding war to commence between the Tigers and Ducks.
Gerald Alexander (Miami Dolphins Defensive Backs Coach)
Alexander is another Boise State alum that could be making his way to the Plains. Per AuburnSports.com’s Jay G Tate, Alexander has emerged as a top DC candidate. Alexander was a 2nd round draft pick coming out of Boise in 2007 and recently has become a fast rising star in the coaching community. After his NFL career, he worked as GA on Harsin’s staff at Arkasnas State. He bounced around for a few years before landing his first major gig as DB coach at Cal under renowned defensive mind Justin Wilcox. His unit earned the nickname “The Takers” and produced two NFL Draft picks in Jaylinn Hawkins and Ashtyn Davis. Davis was a walk-on that was eventually selected in the 3rd round. This season he’s mentoring former Auburn star Noah Igbinoghene. If Auburn can’t lure Avalos east, don’t be surprised to see Alexander walking the Tigers’ sideline in 2021.
Jeff Schmedding (Boise State Co-Defensive Coordinator)
There’s also always the possibility Harsin brings his current defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding. Schmedding shares the DC duties with DL coach Spencer Danielson but Schmedding is the play caller. Before arriving in Boise he was a long time assistant at Eastern Washington, a highly successful FCS program.
Kevin Steele (Auburn Defensive Coordinator)
Three weeks ago, Auburn fans would have been clamoring for this scenario. After all, Steele’s unit has finished ranked in the top 10 per SP+ three of his five seasons on the Plains. Unfortunately, Steele has become a bit of a divisive figure for Tiger fans. A very large number of the Auburn fanbase believe he helped orchestrate Gus Malzahn’s ouster in order to snag the head job himself. While I believe some of those conspiracy theories are a little out of control, it’s absolutely 100% true he was the chosen man by a number of Auburn power brokers when they pushed Malzahn out the door. After being spurned the opportunity to takeover Auburn and the amount of animosity coming his direction from Auburn fans, I have a hard time seeing Steele sticking around. Don’t be surprised if Steele ends up in Columbia, SC or Baton Rouge, LA next season.
Will Muschamp (Former South Carolina Head Coach)
Auburn needs to hire a defensive coordinator and Will Muschamp needs a job. Therefore, as an Auburn blogger, I am contractually bound to write about Muschamp returning to the Plains. I don’t hate it honestly given his 2015 defensive signing class laid the foundation for Steele’s successful run. However, I am highly skeptical this will actually happen but I figured I should mention it before someone yells at me on Twitter.