Oh, dang, it’s almost time again!
Somehow we’ve navigated through the kind of offseason that allowed us to forget the frivolity of another Auburn football campaign. Thanks to two-thirds of the Killer Bees of the Auburn University head coach roster, we were allowed to Peacock around to a top-ranked basketball team, a third-overall NBA Draft pick, and another trip by the baseball team to the College World Series.
All of that somehow allowed us to forget what had transpired between the heartbreaking overtime loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl and National Signing Day, Part Deux (The Original). After a promising 6-2 start to the 2021 season, wherein Auburn’s only losses were at Penn State in a single-possession defeat, and to eventual national champ (GROSS) Georgia, the Tigers went 0-fer. Five straight losses starting with a tough defeat at Texas A&M, followed by the biggest collapse in school history at home to Mississippi State, a tepid performance at South Carolina, allowing Alabama to drive 98 yards in the final 90 seconds to tie the game, and a who-cares bowl loss to Houston.
6-7. Hang it in the Louvre, or a museum befitting of that standard.
Right after the loss in the Iron Bowl, Mike Bobo was relieved of his duties for being objectively terrible. With the offense that Auburn ran in the Iron Bowl, any one of us could’ve, you know, not called passing plays when we needed to run out a little bit of clock.
Anyway, that couldn’t be allowed to continue. Bobo had to Bo-GO, and that decision was made pretty quickly. Bryan Harsin didn’t wait around, and took just a couple of weeks before hiring Seattle Seahawks quarterback coach Austin Davis to fill the role. It was an unexpected choice, but anytime you can grab someone with the NFL pedigree, and a knowledge of the Southeast, then yeah sure, go for it. Harsin had tried to continue surrounding himself with people that seemed on paper to be the right kind of guys, but it was kind of like showing your work and still coming up with the wrong answer.
Austin Davis coached as many games for Auburn as I did, and left the role in January. Okay. Just a few days before that, Derek Mason announced that he was going to step away from football for a bit. SURE. Then he appeared as the new defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. He left Auburn and Bryan Harsin to go to a school in a conference that was actively evaporating and in danger of becoming a relegation league.
Shortly after losing both coordinators, we saw the heat ramp up on Harsin. Rumors that he was going to be fired for cause started popping up, but he was on vacation out of the country. He completely whiffed on Signing Day in February, bringing in zero recruits, and upon his return from the sunny south, made an entrance to the SEC Coaches’ Meeting in Birmingham like nothing was happening.
Before we knew it, all of a sudden he was staying. With absolutely no backing of any kind, the man was going to be around for another football season.
You see, the magic of all of this is that we got distracted by Bruce Pearl and Jabari Smith and a basketball team that rocketed up the charts to be the best team in the land for some time. They won the SEC, plopped a Benjamin on Alabama, beat Kentucky, and we had a great time for a few weeks. Sure, they didn’t make the second weekend of the Tournament, but the fun had been had. Baseball made the College World Series shortly thereafter, but in between there had been some spring ball to take care of.
After Bo Nix transferred to Oregon, which is just a wild timeline in itself, we had to figure things out at quarterback. Harsin brought in a bunch of dudes — Zach Calzada from Texas A&M, Robby Ashford from Oregon, and the freshman Holden Geriner — to try and either take the starting job or push TJ Finley to greatness. Finley will probably never be a top SEC quarterback, and the other three may not either, but they showed some fun in the A-Day Game, and we’ll have a battle throughout fall camp.
Now here we are. SEC Media Days have arrived, the official start of football season. Lane Kiffin signed a mustard bottle yesterday (remember when THAT happened? A full lifetime ago!), and Harsin is scheduled to take the podium along with Tank Bigsby, Derick Hall, and John Samuel Shenker this Thursday to pretty much close out the event.
All of this is to say that we’re inching toward yet another Auburn football season, where we can expect absolutely anything. Undefeated? Yeah sure (no). Championship season? Totally (not). Quite honestly, Harsin needs to show that he’s either winning immediately or making huge strides to success in the future. Recruiting has taken a hit, despite the fact that with a few coaching adjustments here and there last year, this could’ve been a ten-win team. Now, you get Georgia and Alabama on the road, along with teams making improvements across the board along the schedule. We’ll see if he’s on a creaking branch by the time we hit the open week in late October, or if things are looking up and Jordan-Hare is providing us some of the same excitement we’ve come to know.
We’re six weeks and change away from kickoff. It’ll be here ‘fore yew know it.