New Auburn Athletic Director John Cohen May Miss Starkville; Assistant Cadillac Williiams Is Auburn Interim Coach

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In the space of an hour Monday morning, previous reports were confirmed that Auburn hired a new athletic director and fired another football coach.

It is not known if new athletic director John Cohen, who informed Mississippi State Monday morning he was was leaving after six years as athletic director, fired football coach Bryan Harsin, told him he was fired, or both, or neither.

Auburn running backs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, a former Auburn star tailback, will replace Harsin for the remainder of the season as interim head coach.

Harsin, who was 3-5 this season and 1-4 in the SEC after a 6-7 and 3-5 mark last year, is said to have been fired by Auburn interim athletic director Rich McGlynn, but one never knows at Auburn – aka The Screwiest Village on the Plains.

McGlynn temporarily replaced Auburn athletic director Allen Greene, who resigned under pressure last August with his contract expiring in January. He knew he wasn’t getting another one. He was at Auburn less than four years after replacing Jay Jacobs.


John Cohen Has A So-So Track Record

Cohen, 56, will be in charge of hiring the new Auburn football coach, at least that is what he has been trying to get into his new contract at Auburn so he can actually direct athletics as Auburn’s athletic director. That has usually not been the case on the always rocky Plains administrations over decades. Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek turned down the Auburn job, perhaps because of Auburn’s meddling history and he likes it at Arkansas.

Cohen hired Mike Leach as Mississippi State’s football coach away from Washington State after the 2019 season for $5 million a year. That was a splash hire, but Leach is only doing moderately well. Cohen also hired football coach Joe Moorhead, and that proved to be a bad hire. Cohen hired baseball coach Chris Lemonis from Indiana before the 2019 season, and Lemonis directed the Bulldogs to their first national championship in baseball in the 2021 season.

At Auburn, Cohen plans to be making the school’s second hire of a football coach in less than two years. Harsin was hired away from Boise State by Auburn in December of 2020. He replaced Gus Malzahn, who was fired after a 6-4 regular season in his eighth year. Malzahn took Auburn to the BCS national championship game in his first season in 2013.

New Auburn Athletic Director Will Hire Football Coach

The new football coach will be Auburn’s fifth since 2008, which was the last of 10 seasons under Tommy Tuberville, who was followed by Gene Chizik for four, Malzahn for eight seasons and Harsin for 1.75. The Tigers, who lost 41-27 to Arkansas Saturday for their fourth straight defeat, have four regular season games left.

And guess who Auburn’s first football game will be against under Cohen as athletic director? Why, Mississippi State, which was open last Saturday. The Bulldogs (5-3, 2-3) host Auburn at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2.

So, maybe Cohen can put some of his furniture and clothes in Starkville on the bus back to Auburn after the game. Auburn will likely take care of his moving expenses, though. It should have its own moving company. This is a school that is constantly transporting coaches in and out and paying salaries both ways. Just call, “Just Fired And a Truck” in Auburn.

Former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn may be laughing at Auburn now, while he’s winning at Central Florida.

The Buyout Money Is Adding Up

Malzahn, who is having his second straight strong year as Central Florida’s coach at 6-2 and 3-1 (American Athletic Conference) after a 9-4 and 5-3 season in 2021, was fired in 2020. But Auburn agreed to pay him the remaining $21.45 million on his contract. His buyout is believed to be the largest in college football history.

Auburn has been more frugal of late, though. Harsin is expected to receive only $15 million for not continuing to coach at Auburn. Nice non-work, if you can get it.

Wonder if John Cohen knows what he is getting into, swapping his somewhat peaceful life at his alma mater at Mississippi State, where he played baseball at the College World Series in 1990 and coached a team to the College World Series finals in 2013, for the audacity of Auburn?

Cohen has likely received a significant raise to leave Starkville to go to Auburn, at least. That happens a lot when Auburn hires someone – not just when Texas A&M does, silly Lane Kiffin, you Joker.

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin may draw some interest from new Auburn athletic director John Cohen to replace just-fired Bryan Harsin as Auburn’s football coach.

Oh, and guess who the members of the cult-like Auburn boosters are going to want you to consider as Harsin’s replacement, John? Yes, Lane Kiffin. And what better way for a Mississippi State grad to put it to Ole Miss. It could happen.

I can $mell the YellaWood – pressure treated hires – now.

Jackson State coach Deion Sanders could get an interview, but is Prime Time ready for the prime time?

Auburn Athletic Director John Cohen To Miss Starkville

Cohen was making $1.1 million a year at Mississippi State, where his contract says he owes $100,000. That’s cow feed, but State will likely let him ride. He has been an excellent athletic director at Mississippi State, which has class.

Look for State, by the way, to consider Georgia Southern athletic director Jared Benko, who has SEC administrative experience at Georgia, Arkansas and Auburn, or Wake Forest athletic director John Currie, who was athletic director at Tennessee and Kansas State.

Now, Cohen is crossing over in more ways than one. Not just from Mississippi State to Auburn. Cohen grew up in Tuscaloosa as an Alabama fan. Now, he’s at Alabama’s crazy little brother’s house.

Good luck, John.

And I don’t think in the history of the world, many people have made the following statement:

You’re going to miss Starkville.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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