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Bryan Harsin has come a long way since making $250 a month as a part-time assistant at Eastern Oregon. The new Auburn football coach has been on his journey to The Plains for 20 years, and man, what a journey it has been.
Harsin already knows what it’s like to take over a program once led by Gus Malzahn. He did it at Arkansas State back in 2013, and now he’s doing it once again. This time, it will be in the SEC.
The hire came as a shock to some, but others realize the potential with a Harsin-Auburn marriage. He’s a coach who has experience building — or at least maintaining — successful programs. He’s done that with recruitment and development.
Harsin had two stints at Boise State. The first was an nine-year stint from 2001-10. He started as a graduate assistant before eventually moving into a role as the tight ends coach. From 2006-10, he acted as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
The second stint included Harsin coming back as the head coach of the Broncos. From 2014-20, he had an impressive 69-19 record (.784), but it goes beyond that. Throughout both stints, he’s developed some impressive NFL prospects at two key positions: running back and offensive line.
Below are some of the running backs from Boise State that Harsin helped put in the NFL.
- Alexander Mattison, third-round pick in 2019
- Jeremy McNichols, fifth-round pick in 2017
- Jay Ajayi, fifth-round pick in 2015
- Doug Martin, first-round pick in 2012 (OC)
There’s also the infamous Ian Johnson from the 2006 Fiesta Bowl upset against Oklahoma. That season under Harsin, Johnson rushed for 1,713 yards and 25 touchdowns. In other words, Tank Bigsby should be excited about playing in Harsin’s offense.
If Harsin brings his experience developing good offensive linemen with him too, the Tigers should also see an uptick in physicality and productivity up front. Under Harsin, the Broncos put a few of those guys in the league as well, including:
- Ezra Cleveland, second-round pick in 2020
- Reese Odhiambo, third-round pick in 2016
- Ryan Clady, first-round pick in 2008
That’s a pretty good track record for a Group of Five program like Boise State. Harsin is going to have access to better-quality recruits, and as long as the development continues, those guys should help Auburn win before moving on to represent the program in the NFL.
Harsin is well-respected, and he came close to getting several other jobs in recent years. Last offseason, there was strong interest from Arkansas and Missouri. A few years before that, Harsin was in the mix for the Oregon job before Mario Cristobal was brought on.
Auburn fans might not be familiar with Harsin yet, but they will be soon enough.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.