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We all knew there was a good chance that head coach Bryan Harsin wouldn’t make it past his first contract at Auburn. Not because of the job Harsin was doing, nor athletic director Allen Greene. This happened because power boosters had their feelings hurt, mixed with bad intentions.
Harsin, of course, was fired by Auburn last fall after coaching just 21 games. The situation at Auburn reminded many of a coup in the making. From the moment Harsin stepped foot on campus, the influential boosters who had zero say in who Auburn hired this time were more than agitated. Obviously, this was a hire that Greene wanted to make on his own, without ‘Yellawood’ and the other legacy money chirping in with their opinions.
In the past, an AD wouldn’t make a massive hire without collaborating with boosters on the 12th hole at the local country club. But Harsin, coming from Boise State, was the outside candidate that Greene thought would make a splash in the SEC.
Turns out, the tenure lasted less than two seasons. Following Harsin’s first year on the plains, the school launched a farce investigation into why certain players were transferring from the program. A few players complained on social media that Harsin was coaching them too hard.
But we knew where this investigation was coming from, as reported at the time. Auburn boosters were trying to overtake the program, attempting to take back the power they thought was theirs to begin with. The ‘investigation’ turned out to be just as disgusting as you’d think. Rumors that came out of nowhere that Harsin was intimately involved with a female worker at Auburn and, my favorite, that Harsin was cheating in recruiting.
How in the world can boosters get rid of Harsin by claiming he was doing something that Auburn had perfected over the previous 20 years?
Harsin Moves On, Auburn Athletic Department Would Make ‘Succession’ Blush
There was no coming back from the investigation, which ended with Auburn bringing back Harsin for another season. But another problem was about to rear its ugly head. Auburn forced athletic director Allen Greene out the door, making it clear his contract would not be renewed. This move was made so that the influential boosters could make the next move, which was firing Harsin.
After Harsin came back to deal with the mess boosters had created, Harsin started to see the worst in people, he told ESPN.
“There were things we didn’t like. There were things that were disappointing, on and off the field,” Harsin noted. “There were things that I wish I would have done better, and there were things where we got a chance to see some of the worst in people. At the same time, here we are. We’re thriving.”
The former Boise State head coach took his $15.3 million buyout and got out of town. Can you blame the guy? For the past two years, anything Harsin did would be under a microscope, until Auburn fired him after going 3-5 to start the 2022 season.
It’s certainly not his problem anymore. New Auburn coach Hugh Freeze can deal with the politics now.
Booster politics at Auburn would make Logan Roy from the HBO show ‘Succession’ blush. At the end of day, Harsin wasn’t going to fit, but to his credit, Allen Greene wanted to try something different.
“But we don’t want to make that our problem any longer,” Bryan Harsin noted to ESPN. “That’s Auburn’s problem. We’ve moved on and being home has never felt better.”
Hugh Freeze Can Kiss All The Babies Now, Along With The Rings
I can’t blame the former athletic director for bucking the trend of getting the country club’s approval before making a move. Guess what? They got their man with Hugh Freeze, who will kiss every baby from Mobile to Huntsville if it means he can keep his job at Auburn.
That’s not a knock on Freeze. He knows how to play the game in the SEC. Make sure to show up for the country club events, kiss the ring and fake a laugh every time one of these old guys barely hanging on to relevance makes a joke. This was the opportunity Freeze had been craving ever since he was fired by Ole Miss.
Hugh Freeze couldn’t wait to get back into the game, while Harsin was ready to take his well-earned buy-out and get out of town.
There has certainly been a complete overhaul at Auburn, which was the plan all along. Harsin and his family will enjoy this football season back home in Boise, not having to deal with the ongoing drama in Auburn.
I’d have to imagine life is much better for Harsin.