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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Harsin not very endearing to many lately

by Wally Hall | February 6, 2022 at 2:51 a.m.

Bryan Harsin exceeded my expectations.

It was thought it would take three years minimum before some of the Auburn football fans would like to see his house for sale and the school in his rear-view mirror

For the sake of transparency, yours truly has met Harsin just once.

It was after he was hired by Arkansas State University to replace Gus Malzahn. We had dinner at a nice restaurant with two other people.

In that one meeting he came across as arrogant, indifferent and not going to be there long. The impression was he was too good for Jonesboro and Arkansas.

Like Malzahn, who can be aloof without being rude, he stayed one year and left.

Malzahn was 9-3 in his season with the Red Wolves and that got him the Auburn job, where the biggest mistake he made was taking his team to the national championship game his first season.

They lost to Florida State 34-31, but the fans were shouting War Eagle and anticipating a future with multiple wins over Alabama.

In his seven full seasons (he was 10 games into his final year), Malzahn teams beat Nick Saban teams three times, but they never challenged for the national title again, and although he had a record of 68-35 he was fired before the season ended or before he had another shot at Saban.

It should be mentioned he got a $49 million contract in 2017 after pretending he was interested in the Arkansas job, and his buyout three years later was north of $20 million. Half of which was due almost immediately.

By the end of 2018, many of the Auburn football fans wanted to see for sale signs in Malzahn's yard.

Harsin went 7-5 at ASU, and when his mentor Chris Petersen left Boise State for Washington, Harsin was hired as the head coach.

It was a homecoming in every way. Harsin was born and raised in Boise, played quarterback for Boise State and said he was never leaving.

Until Auburn offered a $5 million-a-year job.

Harsin created some early controversy when he said about 65% of his team was vaccinated against covid-19 -- the SEC minimum was 85% -- and he refused to say whether he had been vaccinated.

He is an anti-vaxxer, the only thing that will eradicate the virus.

Worse, at least in Auburn, his first season was a losing one, lowlighted by a five-game losing streak to end the season.

In the weeks since, he has had more than 20 players transfer, including starting quarterback Bo Nix, a native of Alabama who is going all the way to Oregon.

Assistant coaches have resigned or been fired.

A sample of the headlines about Harsin and is program last week were:

USA Today: Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin runs divisive and 'dysfunctional' program.

Sports Illustrated: Bryan Harsin's Auburn Future Uncertain Amid Program Disarray.

Montgomery Advertiser: Sources: Bryan Harsin's Auburn football program toxic. Auburn AD meets with players to discuss Bryan Harsin Situation.

Athletic Director Allen Greene's meeting with the players was hours after an Auburn Board of Trustees meeting.

Everyone knows some of the Auburn fans are fickle, that the shadow of Alabama drives them to do things they might not ordinarily do, like offer the job while they have a winning coach like Tommy Tuberville.

Auburn is a great academic school with a nationally respected engineering program. Some of my favorite people have worked there. The city and area have great qualities of life.

Its football fans deserve better than a 6-7 season, especially from a head coach who can't keep a staff or players and seems arrogant.

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