Everything that could go wrong after Auburn got up 14-0 last night did go wrong, and it’s taken all day to come to grips with the 21-17 loss. Auburn wasn’t even given a chance to go for the win on a final drive due to an abhorrent call by the officials, but let’s be honest... did we have faith that they’d do anything with the opportunity anyway?
The childlike optimist in me says to hold off and allow Harsin to recruit and develop his players, because this clearly isn’t his team and the roster has glaring flaws. The realist in me recognizes that these last two losses lay squarely at the feet of a coaching staff that had superior talent at its disposal compared to what was on the other sideline, but could not position it in a manner that would produce success and victories. There’s now an outside shot that Tank Bigsby leaves due to frustration with his role, and the offensive line/receivers situation is going to get worse before it gets better. With uncertainty around the new President, Allen Greene, and the schism between Harsin’s Boise folks and the holdovers, the offseason (or the leadup to it) might get ugly in a hurry.
If you had a crystal ball in August and told me we would be 7-5 with losses to Penn State, LSU, Georgia, A&M, and Alabama I would have believed you because they all are recruiting at a higher level than we are. If you had told me we’d be 7-5 with a win over LSU and a loss to Ole Miss I would have considered this season a step forward by getting the monkey of Baton Rouge off our back and assumed a better QB had a better night with the Lane Train. Yet here we sit, on the precipice of a 6-6 season where we have consistently gotten worse since halftime of the Ole Miss game. And all I can think about is how lucky we are to have that 6th win thanks to late game heroics against…Georgia State.
It’s easy to see the cupboard that Gus Malzahn left Auburn along the offensive line is bare. I completely get that and am glad we moved on because we needed a fresh start with a coach and staff hell bent on narrowing the gap with the Alabamas and Georgias of the world. But dear reader the cupboard ain’t so bare that you blow a 25-point lead and along the way surrender 40 unanswered points to Mississippi State in a loss that the previous 128 seasons of Auburn football had not seen anything quite like. The cupboard ain’t so bare that you should be facing 4th and 9 at the end of the game needing a touchdown to beat Georgia State. The cupboard ain’t so bare that you should lose to South Carolina and look just inept in every facet of the game, in game 11 no less. The cupboard should be too bare to beat Alabama and Georgia today. The cupboard should be full enough to move the ball against A&M when your defense surrenders 12 points. The cupboard should be full enough to have a better call on the goal line than a fade to the corner in Happy Valley.This is a mentally weak football team that has unraveled in all three facets of football before our very eyes over the last month, and for the life of me I’m struggling to see where there is hope out of it. Where are we better today than a year ago? How is this going to get better next year when the cupboard is REALLY bare compared to this year along the offensive line (barring guys coming back with their COVID year)? Where is the hope in the future of this program?
I didn’t love the Harsin hire, not because I don’t like the guy (though I understand why many think I don’t and I truly hate that I haven’t been able to better convey that), but because he is a guy who has spent most of his career in Idaho and is now at an elite job in the Southeastern Conference and time is not on Auburn’s side to have someone figure this out on the job. We did enough of that for 8 years. We needed a mercenary recruiter and to this point I don’t have tangible proof we have anything close to that. Instead we have someone trying to overhaul a culture and talk about how more guys need to love this game more. I just did not think in December of last year nor do I think now that this is what Auburn needs right now. Not with the NFL factories we face year in and year out. Being like them with a mercenary recruiter does not mean you will get the same results as them. Not being like them all but disqualifies you from having a shot at their level of success.
It’s just the wrong time for all of this, but here we are in it. And Bryan Harsin is not necessarily to blame for it. Gus Malzahn is not the culprit here either. The culprits are the arrogant people that run this university thinking so small that they did not have an executable plan beyond firing Gus Malzahn, and thought promoting a defensive coordinator was the solution. All that did was let an athletics director, who is deservedly catching heat from our “Olympic” (basketball and baseball are considered in this category hint hint) coaches for slashing their budgets after a Final Four run and during a CWS run, hire a coach when he has never had to do this before. So the blame for ALL of this should be with the leadership of Auburn University. You want to fire a coach and pay him $21 million? DO IT! It’s your money! You want to get caught with your hand in the cookie jar and freak out and therefore allow our football program to appear, based on results, to be a poorly run operation without tangible evidence of hope moving forward? That is inexcusable.
I’ve sat in our stadium for over 30 years supporting this program. I will be there next weekend, as I have been at every one of them since 1993. I’m not going to change that. But as I drove back from Auburn last weekend after that baffling loss, all I could think was, “I’m getting older and I’m tired”. I’m getting older and losses like this don’t dictate my happiness like they once did. I’m getting tired because I’ve seen the same problem with Auburn for far too long…unorganized people in charge who all individually think they have the answers instead of working together. Do I think this will all work with Bryan Harsin? No. Because he wasn’t hired with unity. Do I expect anything to be better if he’s not here in a month or a year? Not until the people that run this place who are not going anywhere all get on the same page with how to move forward. That is not the state of Auburn football today and this is who we are until that changes.
-Son of Crow
I got a compliment on my shoes. That’s the biggest win of the day.
I made the right decision going to Tampa to see Bruce and the boys this weekend instead of going to Columbia. Sorry Chief and James. If Tank Bigsby elects to transfer after this season, I won’t blame him one bit especially after tonight’s fiasco.
Nest my damn tweets
At a certain point, I knew misfortune was going to befall us, and I wasn’t even stressed about it. I knew it was going to be bad, I knew we’d lose, and I knew that South Carolina would treat the win like they just won the Super Bowl. All of that came true.
However you want to look at the final call on the punt return, it didn’t cause us to lose. We should’ve been up by about 40 points by the end of the third quarter with the talent disparity between the two teams. I don’t know what goes on in a coach’s head to make him think that by using his best weapon he’s somehow doing the wrong thing, but when you’re driving to take the lead and you need a score, you have to run Tank. He got the same number of carries as Demetris Robertson down the stretch. Not good.
We’re going to go get blown out by Alabama and possibly win Bryce Young a Heisman Trophy, but maybe some weird Jordan-Hare voodoo happens. It has in the past. Ugh.