The last 24 hours have been exhausting, but such is the life for an Auburn fan.
Since roughly this time last night, rumor and supposition have swirled regarding the job status of Bryan Harsin as Auburn’s head football coach.
Y’all. It’s been one day, and I’m tired.
Long story short, white smoke plumed from St. Aubie’s Basilica, indicating that some new twist in the long and varied history of wild coaching turns has arrived. Harsin is on the way out, it said. There are reasons to fire him with cause.
I don’t even know where it all began. A whisper in the wind, rumor of a shadow grew that said tales of infidelity, aggression, racism — all of it — may be told in due time! Some people were said to get their information from hearsay on infamous message boards, while others cobbled together morsels from live spaces on Twitter. Nobody’s on record, but everyone’s reporting information. It reminds me of that scene in J.F.K where Kevin Costner is talking with X about why Kennedy got killed and how it happened:
Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies and something’s underway, but it has no face. Yet everybody in the loop knows...
Everything is cellularized. No one has said, ‘He must die.’ There’s been no vote. Nothing’s on paper. There’s no one to blame. It’s as old as the crucifixion. A military firing squad: five bullets, one blank. No one’s guilty, because everyone in the power structure who knows anything has a plausible deniability. There are no compromising connections except at the most secret point. But what’s paramount is that it must succeed. No matter how many die, no matter how much it costs, the perpetrators must be on the winning side and never subject to prosecution for anything by anyone. That is a coup d’état....
That doesn’t go only for Harsin, but Allen Greene as well. Later in that scene, Kevin Costner says “I can’t believe they killed him because he wanted to change things.” That can apply to Greene. He went way outside of the parameters that we all thought were needed in December 2020 to hire Bryan Harsin, and while he got this deal done with Bruce Pearl to lock him in for life last week, he’s also on his way out and hasn’t made too many friends.
Who’s the group here that wants to do this? Throwing literally every possible accusation at the wall to see what sticks, it’s a smear campaign that’s worked everything up into a firestorm too big to control. Public opinion is now split on whether or not to fire Bryan Harsin instead of any of the other areas that need to be addressed. Why do the power brokers at Auburn have this kind of sway when they seemingly don’t at other schools? It’s no secret what they tried to do in 2020 after Gus Malzahn was fired. If they’d succeeded we’d have Kevin Steele as our head coach and who knows what would’ve happened in 2021.
Here’s the deal. Bryan Harsin has made his bed from the get-go by not coming out and being direct on multiple issues (vaccines for one), and then by managing a staff that had turnover from the start (due to working relationships with him, we’re told), and finally by mishandling the recruiting that is the life blood of SEC football. Let’s be honest, you can scheme your way around to a pretty solid season in some of the other leagues in the country, but you’re not going to be a top tier SEC team without top tier talent, and Auburn has gotten worse in that regard since Gus left.
However, Harsin also bought himself zero credibility to do things the way he wants by failing to take care of business on the field. Everyone wants to compare him to Nick Saban in his first season at Alabama. While Harsin obviously doesn’t have that kind of cache, and looking back in retrospect is always difficult since it’s hard to ignore the events since 2007, Saban had his struggles, but continued to get better as the season went along (save for ULM, heh), and then dominated his bowl game. After that, he bought the best recruiting class he could and started the long train of success in that field. Harsin has gone the opposite route, showing that he had the talent to win 10 or more games in 2021 and failing to close on big wins down the stretch. Auburn led in every game this season except the A&M affair, and of those games they led in the second half of every game except for Georgia. The players were there, the coaching was not.
Still, is that enough to fire him after one year? If you’re a power player and you feel like you got burned by having your plot exposed the offseason before, then maybe. Of course, it’s possible that Harsin just isn’t pleasant to work with. We’ve seen the different takes on the web today from players both with the program and outside of the family. Is he too far removed from what needs to happen in SEC football? Very likely. Is one year long enough to figure that out? Probably not. Are we going to do something extremely dumb and then do something even more incredible like beating Bama in Tuscaloosa this year? Probably. That’s the Auburn way.
The one thing that I know about all of this is that it’s too exhausting for this time of year. We didn’t make any impact on Signing Day this week, don’t have an offensive coordinator, and we start spring practice in about a month. We here at College and Mag have discussed at length what we’d be willing to give up so that Auburn could win a basketball national championship, and we were all in agreement that two years of football wins, like all of them, would be a worthy price to pay for that mountaintop success for Bruce Pearl. At this point, it looks like that may be coming true, and I honestly don’t have the time or energy to worry about this while we have to wake up and watch Jabari Smith drop 30 on Georgia.
It’s Peacock season, and this Chicken Little attitude coming from Jordan-Hare isn’t the vibe.