Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Harsin still at Auburn, but must win

by Wally Hall | July 26, 2022 at 5:01 a.m.

Bryan Harsin had led a charmed life, until last year.

He grew up in Boise, had a good career as a high school quarterback and was a three-year letterman at Boise State.

His first job was full-time at Eastern Oregon University, but after a year he returned to Boise State as a graduate assistant under Dan Hawkins and a year later he was named tight ends coach.

Just four seasons later he was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the age of 29.

Boise State was 61-5 while he was the OC. His next move was to the University of Texas for two seasons before becoming the head coach at Arkansas State in 2013.

A bit of irony there was he followed Gus Malzahn.

The Red Wolves went 7-5 and Harsin became the third ASU head coach to leave after one season. Then-athletic director Terry Mohajir, tired of the revolving door, hired Blake Anderson, who stayed seven years.

Harsin didn't leave for any job, it was his hometown and alma mater calling and in 2014 he became the head coach at Boise State.

His first team went 12-2, including a Fiesta Bowl win over Arizona.

His second team had the worst finish at 9-4 although the Broncos were 5-2 during the covid season in 2020. But that was his final season as he bullet train to the top and headed east to Auburn Ala., where Malzahn had just been fired.

Firing coaches, or running them off, had become a bad habit at Auburn dating back to 1998 when Terry Bowden was terminated.

Tommy Tuberville was run off by rich boosters, and got the first ever multi-million dollar settlement.

Gene Chizik was there four years and despite winning a national championship was fired.

Malzahn made it eight tumultuous seasons before despite a more than $20 million payoff was terminated. He was scooped up by Mohajir at Central Florida.

Harsin arrived full of vim and vigor.

The Tigers rolled into Fayetteville 4-2 with their only losses being to Penn State and eventual national champions Georgia.

They beat Arkansas 38-23 and two weeks later, following an open date, they beat Ole Miss 31-20.

Then the wheels came off.

They were loosened by the Texas A&M Aggies 20-3 and the next week when they lost to Mississippi State in Jordan-Hare Stadium 43-34 the fans were not happy.

Auburn then proceeded to lose to South Carolina and Alabama by a combined six points, but close doesn't count down on the Plains.

The Tigers had sunk to the Birmingham Bowl, where they lost to Houston.

It didn't take long for the rumor mill to be at full speed.

Stories quoting inside sources claimed Harsin had created a divisive culture, neglecting players and assistants.

Most of the world of college football expected Auburn to do what Auburn does, fire.

An official inquiry was conducted and the boosters didn't get to make the call, Auburn President Jay Gogue announced Harsin would remain the head coach.

Last week at SEC Football Media Days, Harsin said he knew some reporters didn't think he would be there.

Those who had heard him at media days a year ago probably were surprised.

A year ago, Harsin was distant, aloof and boring.

To his benefit it was the biggest stage he had been on and he may have realized he made mistakes, ones he didn't make this year as he was vastly improved in every aspect in his role.

The Tigers are an unknown going into this season and were picked to finish last in the West and that would start the controversy all over again.

Print Headline: Harsin still at Auburn, but must win


Sponsor Content