We wondered what our favorite university was doing.
The future looked uncertain after Auburn fired Gus Malzahn, its football coach, amid a pandemic. Auburn nation didn’t like going a disappointing 6-4 after having great expectations this year. Malzahn’s eight years at the helm were generally disappointing. But many of us wondered about the timing of his forced departure. The school incurred a $21 million buyout for firing him after three seasons of a seven-year, $49-million contract signed following the 2017 campaign, 75% of which was guaranteed. And all this during a pandemic.
But the Auburn faithful had high expectations for Malzahn’s replacement. Names of potential coaches surfaced. Mario Cristobal of Oregon. Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss. Hugh Freeze of Liberty. Billy Napier of Louisiana.
Then the candidates started disappearing. Potential candidates kept turning us down. Nine days into the coaching vacancy and Auburn seemed lost in a sea of uncertainty.
Suddenly came the fateful announcement. Auburn was hiring Bryan Harsin from Boise State. His name hadn’t been mentioned as a possibility. But my alma mater has hit the jackpot. Harsin is a winner; he went 69-19 at Boise State from 2014-20. Ironically he had followed Malzahn at Arkansas State when Malzahn left for Auburn and he went 7-5 for the 2013 season.
Harsin, 44, is an innovator. He was the offensive coordinator for Boise State when the Broncos used trick plays to upset Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Harsin had played quarterback at Boise State. He was the co-offensive coordinator at the University of Texas for two seasons. Before leaving for Texas in 2011, he was an assistant at Boise State for 10 seasons, the last five as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. In 2008, Kellen Moore took over the quarterback position and under Harsin’s guidance earned WAC Freshman of the Year honors, completing an NCAA freshman record 69.4 completion percentage (281-405) with 25 touchdown passes and only 10 interceptions.
He is creative on offense, a good recruiter and a proven developer of quarterbacks. My alma mater hit the jackpot with this hire. Auburn nation has high hopes with this new year.