9 days after the Auburn Tigers fired Gus Malzahn after 8 seasons as their head football coach, Bryan Harsin of Boise State fame was named as the new leader of the program. Those 9 days were filled with some wild twists and turns, and the future of the Auburn football program really looked bleak for a second or two. Rumors of the board of trustees wanting to install Kevin Steele as head coach led to a fan-led revolt on Twitter. Both Billy Napier and Bill Clark reportedly turned down the job. Steve Sarkisian and Brent Venables took their names out of the running. It was maybe the lowest point the program has reached in a decade.
Then, Athletic Director Allen Greene stepped in, stepped up, and delivered us fans a coach that provided hope where there was none. Bryan Harsin officially accepted the job, prompting almost all of the Auburn family to utter a collective, "Huh?". Once the initial confusion was out of the way, we the fans feasted our eyes on his head coaching record: 69-19. While the competition in the Mountain West Conference is nowhere near the level of the SEC, Bryan is clearly a winner. At just 44 years of age, he’s easily one of the most accomplished coaches that Auburn has ever hired, and man oh man is that refreshing. After a week of turmoil, the Auburn leadership team was cast as incompetent, selfish, and greedy. Auburn did not deserve a winner, but they needed one. Enter: Bryan Harsin.
Harsin is a great coach, but there are still questions about him. His only time spent coaching in the south came during a 1-year stint as the Arkansas State head coach (coincidentally replacing Gus Malzahn). This calls into question his ability to recruit effectively in the south, which will be crucial to his success at Auburn. This even further magnifies the need for a strong staff to surround him to ensure success. Ultimately though, winning is the ultimate recruiting tool, and Harsin does a lot of that.
Bryan Harsin isn’t the typical Auburn coach, but maybe that’s what Auburn needs right now. After years of losing 4 or more games, struggling to make the SEC championship, and a recent downturn in recruiting, Auburn needed a new direction. A coach hired out of the blue (literally), with an aggressive personality and coaching style may be the recipe for success on the plains. The disfunction of Auburn leadership, and lofty expectations of both fans and boosters created a tumultuous environment that would be tough to save. Napier and Clark were perhaps correct in their reservations about taking the job, and we didn’t do enough to deserve the benefit of the doubt. We don’t deserve a winner like Bryan Harsin, but we need him, and he’s here to make a difference in Auburn.