Yesterday was a big day for new Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. He made a trio of important hires including naming both coordinators in OC Mike Bobo and DC Derek Mason. Somewhat poetically, given Auburn’s struggles up front in recent seasons, his first assistant coach hire was along the offensive line in Will Friend.
With both coordinators in place, I expect Auburn’s staff to fill up pretty quickly. Don’t be surprised if a couple more official announcements come out today. Here’s a rundown on the candidates to know at each position.
As always, the board is fluid. I’ll do my best to keep it updated throughout the day as news breaks.
This position still feels pretty open. Two current Auburn staffers have now both interviewed and are being considered in Carnell Williams and Larry Porter. Of the two, I think Porter is the more likely man to be retained given his extensive history as a recruiter in the southeast and experience as a recruiting coordinator and special teams coordinator. But Caddy is a legend and his early returns as a position coach have been strong. If he clicks with Harsin there might be an opportunity to stay.
There’s also a good chance Harsin and Bobo bring a new name in. No it won’t be Dell McGee, who Auburn pursued heavily this week but were unable to come to terms with as the former Auburn defensive back reportedly wanted the opportunity to call plays. The two names to watch instead are Des Kitchings and Lee Marks.
Kitchings worked with Bobo at South Carolina last season and was reported to be a name to consider moving forward. However, BigSpur.com’s John Whittle reported last night that Auburn has yet to officially contact Kitchings and that the belief is he will stay in Columbia. Obviously that could change if Auburn makes a push.
Marks is Harsin’s former running backs coach at Boise State. He currently serves as RB coach, assistant head coach and run game coordinator at Fresno State. If Harsin isn’t comfortable with Porter or Williams and Auburn goes nowhere with Kitchings, Marks might be the guy to keep an eye on.
As of this morning, my bet is on Porter being moved to running backs coach and being named special teams coordinator as well, maybe even recruiting coordinator depending on who else joins the staff.
6:15 PM Update
GO CRAZY CADILLAC! GO CRAZY!
If Kitchings does make the leap, he could also serve as WR coach given his background. However, there are two other names that probably deserve more consideration. The first being Bryan McClendon, current WR coach and passing game coordinator for Mario Cristobal at Oregon. The former UGA RB worked under Bobo while at Georgia and is an elite recruiter in the southeast. This would be a big time hire if Auburn could coax him back to the SEC.
The other name to monitor is Darrell Wyatt. The current UCF WR coach worked with Harsin at Texas and is a well respected veteran WR coach. Knights247’s Jason Beede reported last night that there has been inquiries from Auburn.
There’s also the possibility Kodi Burns is retained though I think the odds of that happening are pretty low. More than likely one of McLendon or Wyatt will be coaching the Tigers wide receivers in 2021.
This position seems the easiest to pin down. It will likely be handled by former Boise State OL coach Brad Bedell. Bedell has been with Harsin ever since Arkansas State in 2013 and it’s not a surprise he’s coming to the Plains. My opinion is Harsin wants at least one of his guys on both sides of the ball to help establish his culture.
There’s a chance though Auburn could get creative with staff positions to make room for guys they want. Maybe split the OL duties between Friend and Harsin so they can fit another stud recruiter on the offensive side. In that scenario you could see Larry Porter remain as TE coach or you could see Auburn go bring someone else in. Specifically, AuburnUndercover’s Nate King reported yesterday that Virginia TE/ST coach Ricky Brumfield is someone to watch.
The safe bet though is that this will be Bedell’s position in 2021.
Probably the position with the least amount of clarity is the defensive line. Only two names have been linked so far but one has already backed out. Spencer Danielson was set to join Harsin’s staff but is now reportedly planning on staying in Boise. That’s likely because he expects to be named DC under the new Boise State head coach.
The other name mentioned is Brick Haley. AuburnUndercover’s Phillip Marshall reported earlier this week that Haley’s name had come up as a possible candidate though little was known on how interested he or Auburn might be. Haley was Les Miles’s long time DL coach who now works for Harsin’s former OC Eliah Drinkwitz at Missouri.
Always the possibility Rodney Garner is retained though I believe that is unlikely. Garner is a well respected DL coach and up until this season, his unit has been the strength of the team. However, given the rumors surrounding his role in Gus Malzahn’s departure, rumors I believe that are grounded in some truth but very much exaggerated, it’s probably best he finds a new home.
With Derek Mason on board, you would imagine he’ll have a very big say on who to bring in. His DL coach while at Stanford was Randy Hart who has since retired. Frank Maile was Mason’s DL coach for his first 2 seasons at Vanderbilt before spending the last 5 seasons at Utah State. He was not retained when Blake Anderson was hired so that’s a name to track along with Jovan Haye who was Mason’s most recent DL coach.
A lot of this is pure speculation on my part so it will be interesting to see if any real intel comes out today at this position.
I feel pretty confident in saying there will be 1 of 2 scenarios at this position. Either former Boise State DC Jeff Schmedding will coach the position by himself or he will handle outside linebackers while fan favorite Travis Williams is retained to coach inside backers.
That would be the ideal scenario though it’s far from certain. With Mason now hired, T-WILL has reportedly interviewed and we will see what Auburn’s new braintrust decides to do. T-WILL’s track record at Auburn speaks for itself and I would love to see him have the opportunity to recruit without the cloud of coaching instability hanging over him.
Another name I will throw out is Chris Marve. He was a star linebacker at Vanderbilt and worked for Mason to start his career. He’s now at Florida State.
Yesterday afternoon it appeared that former Auburn DB Travaris Robinson would be returning home. He spent one season as an assistant for the Tigers under Will Muschamp in 2015 before following Coach Boom to South Carolina. An elite recruiter, specifically in south Florida, this would be a big time hire for the Tigers.
However, things appear to have changed. T-Rob reportedly wants full control of the secondary and a Co-DC title. Mason’s background is coaching DBs and with Schmedding coming over from Boise, I am doubtful they would give two coaches the Co-DC role. There’s also buzz that Mason wants to bring his guy in to at least coach one part of the secondary. Marc Mattioli worked for Mason as an analyst at Stanford and Vanderbilt before taking an on field role in 2016. Chances are high he’ll follow Mason to Auburn. Miami appears poised to give T-Rob the title and responsibilities he wants.
If Mason elects to split the DB role don’t be surprised to see current Auburn staffer Al Pogue be retained. While he was brought in to coach BUCKs, his background is more as a DB coach at both Troy and West Virginia. I could see a scenario where Schmedding coaches LB full time while Pogue and Mattioli split DBs.
2:21 PM Update
Apparently former Auburn safety Zac Etheridge is emerging as a top candidate for DB coach. He’s worked as a cornerbacks coach at Louisiana for Billy Napier and Houston for Dana Holgerson.
Sources: Zac Etheridge has emerged as a top target for the Auburn defensive backs coach job.— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) January 8, 2021
Former Auburn standout defensive back who is currently the cornerbacks coach at Houston. Was a team captain for Auburn's 2010 national title team.
7:15 PM Update
It’s official. Zac Etheridge is coming home! Interestingly he’s listed as CB coach which keeps both Al Pogue and Mason’s guy Mattioli.
Like I did yesterday, I’ll try to keep an overall staff projection up to date. Anyone in italics has been officially announced by Auburn.
- Head Coach - Bryan Harsin
- Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks - Mike Bobo
- Running Back - Carnell Williams
- Wide Receivers - Bryan McClendon/Darrell Wyatt/Des Kitchings
- Offensive Line - Will Friend
- Tight Ends - Brad Bedell/Larry Porter/Ricky Brumfield
- Co-Defensive Coordinator/DBs? - Derek Mason
- Defensive Line - Brick Haley
- Linebackers - Jeff Schmedding/Travis Williams
- Cornerbacks - Zac Etheridge
- Safety: Marc Mattioli/Al Pogue