Despite all the noise in Auburn during that crazy period in February, Bryan Harsin knew he wasn’t going to give in and leave. It’s not hard to forget everything that went down between the Auburn boosters and Harsin during that period of uncertainty, especially given the attacks made towards him personally.
In an interview with ESPN late last week, Harsin doubled down on his commitment to the Auburn football program, even if some of the big money folks on the plains don’t feel the same way. The way in which it all played out in the media was stupendous to watch, even if we had seen this type of behavior from outside influences before. After eight days of his integrity being questioned, the University decided it would not part ways with the head coach.
There were numerous transfers, coaching departures and unfounded accusations of player mistreatment that came after the Tigers season finale. But, being the coach at Auburn comes with a lot of problems, not just within the football program. The boosters have long felt as if they could run the football program from the outside, looking to make key decisions with their money and influence. This goes on at most power-five programs, but Auburn has a knack for making things even worse publicly. During those hard days of attacks on him and his integrity, Harsin knew he wasn’t going to leave his players high and dry.
“Everything we were going through — these players, this program, the attacks on my character and my family — was bulls—. Let’s be clear on that. We’re not folding our tent whatsoever. We’ll fight, and we’ll keep doing it. That’s not going to change. We’re fighting for the kids on this team. They’re worth fighting for.”
Harsin told ESPN that there weren’t any kind of negotiations regarding his $18.3 million buyout between the school and his agent. If Auburn decided to go down this route again after the 2022 season, they will still owe him around $15 million.
There are obstacles he will continue to deal with on the recruiting trail, with most opposing schools using the dysfunction at Auburn as a tool to steer recruits away. This comes with the territory, but other schools have plenty of ammunition now. It will be an interesting 2022 season for the Tigers, having to replace a good amount of talent on defense, along with trying to decide whether T.J. Finley or Zach Calzada will be the guy to lead them at quarterback.
It will never be ‘calm’ at Auburn, but getting to a nice bowl game next season would sure go a long way in the stability of the football program. Until then, there’s a lot of work to be done.