Bryan Harsin’s Last Stand At Auburn
In the end, some things are just not meant to be, like a bad marriage, a bad workplace, or a run of bad luck. For Bryan Harsin and Auburn, it was a doomed marriage from the start.
The Players in the Rise and Fall of Bryan Harsin
Harsin will walk away from the Plains with his reputation personally tarnished yet significantly wealthier than he was fourteen months ago. The hiring of the former Boise State coach was filled with enthusiasm and naivete. In the end, Harsin never had a chance.
If only someone could've predicted how so many Pac-12 jobs would become available last year, perhaps Harsin would've stayed at his alma mater. Can anyone remember when Washington, USC, Oregon, Washington State, and several other high-profile jobs opened up in one season? Despite the odds being stacked against him, Bryan Harsin almost beat the SEC at its own game.
However, the failure of the season-ending five-game losing streak, the lack of any attempt to recruit five-star players, the loss of over twenty players to the transfer portal, and the coaching staff turnover were too much for Harsin to maintain his position as Auburn's coach. If only he had beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl, perhaps Harsin would be back for another season? He didn't, so the show must go on without him.
The Blame Game
Harsin's hiring was hailed as a victory by Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene. The big-money boosters told the athletic department who to hire and who to fire in the past. They paid the bills, so they called the shots. Greene naively announced that Harsin's hiring was a victory over the old-time boosters of the past. Greene's announcement would come back to haunt him and Harsin. The boosters lost the battle but continued with the war.
Every move the new coach made was scrutinized. He was not in familiar territory geographically or culturally. Harsin, to his credit, guided the team to a 6-2 start. However, the last five games featured the injury to quarterback Bo Nix and blown leads to lesser rivals. Nix and the other players deciding not to come back for year two of Harsin only reinforced the cultural divide between the Boise coach and the Southern players.
The last gasp of Harsin's coaching life happened last week when Auburn's recruiting class was historically disappointing. A coach can always sell hope that things will be different with his players. Harsin had no big-time recruits to sell to fans or boosters. He was out in the cold while vacationing in Mexico. Even his vacation caused many to ask why he isn't here fighting for his job?
A Good Man at a Bad Job
Bryan Harsin is a great coach a good man. We condemn the sleazeball attacks on his character. But that's how the big-time Moneyball world of college football is played, destroying the individual at all costs. It's a shame that his friends and family had to see his reputation attacked with the slanderous attacks on social media.
Bryan Harsin walks away from Auburn after only one year; however, he is much richer in knowledge and money. He will coach again, but he will be armed with his fourteen months at dysfunctional Auburn. In the end, Harsin deserved better, and so did Auburn.