Auburn coach Bryan Harsin sacked his offensive coordinator on a Monday ahead of two of the most important weeks on the recruiting calendar.
Either this presents a major problem for the Tigers, or it was a big strategic move, from two competing perspectives. Competing prospects are a tradition in Auburn football, so this latest drama isn’t exactly new. It’s just the continuation of the mess as usual.
Problem: The early signing period begins on December 15th.
With a fortnight before the vast majority of four- and five-star rookies sign with their favorite schools, Auburn is currently ranked 12th out of 14 SEC teams. (But in reality, Harsin’s Auburn Tigers are 14th out of 16 teams, with this 2022 signing class set to compete with future SEC members Texas and Oklahoma.)
“Big strategic move” perspective: Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wasn’t really helping Auburn as a recruiter anyway (for the reasons stated above) and also Monday, the day Blown-Lead coach Bryan took over. fired his OC, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix said. during an interview that he was not sure if staying in Auburn was the best choice for his future.
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Maybe Nix will stay at Auburn now that his future will include another offensive coordinator. Maybe he’ll turn pro after breaking his leg in his junior season. Perhaps he will transfer to Jacksonville State and play for new Gamecocks coach Rich Rodriguez. Whatever he chooses, Nix, who was trained from birth to lead Auburn football as a quarterback, will play for his fourth offensive coordinator in four years.
Here’s the cold reality of Auburn on the last day of November 2021. It failed to provide Nix with the best tools for his future, and now the quarterback who beat Alabama in his first season doesn’t know what. do while recovering from a broken ankle.
Don’t let the competing perspectives of Auburn’s perpetual football drama confuse you, because here is the reality of Auburn’s situation. It’s all about Harsin, the head coach who jumped into the deep end without knowing how to swim. He has two weeks to shut down rookies but no longer has an offensive coordinator to help him do so. He’s been billed as a quarterback whisperer, but Nix has apparently heard enough.
Auburn fired Gus Malzahn because his teams were inconsistent. The Tigers now have a coach whose team blew up three double-digit leads to end the season, including an Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium that Alabama failed to win. Nix’s worries about his future, Auburn’s current recruiting class and the Tigers’ miserable second half are not signs of stability.
Here’s what we know about Harsin after his debut season at Auburn. He hired an excellent defensive coordinator. Obviously, Derek Mason has his side of the football building in good working order after the first year. The wing of Harsin’s house is a mess. Maybe another licensed SEC trainer can come in and execute the infraction. Dan Mullen does nothing during the holidays.
If we take Auburn’s football coach down after his debut season, the facts speak for themselves. He fails. Auburn went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC, lost his last four games, detonated historically terrible advances to Mississippi State, South Carolina and Alabama, was sixth in the SEC West and the recruiting class fell short of the pace of rivals Auburn. Alabama’s 2022 recruiting class is ranked second nationally. Georgia is ranked first. Texas A&M is third. Auburn is listed on 33rd between West Virginia and Baylor.
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It wasn’t all bad this season, but it wasn’t good enough and the future is darker now than before Harsin was hired. Harsin deserves time to find out, and, let’s be honest, Auburn has no other choice, but this rebuild that Harsin is designing is going to take time.
Harsin has said he will lead Auburn to a place of stability that can compete for the championships. Maybe, but he must first learn how to recruit from the SEC and win in a mercilessly impatient league. Auburn fans wanted Malzahn to disappear every time he lost two games in a row. LSU fired Ed Orgeron less than two years after a national championship. If Georgia loses to Alabama in the SEC Championship game on Saturday, then people will question Kirby Smart’s future in Athens.
Auburn? With players free to leave schools for better situations elsewhere, Auburn is set to be transferred to the SEC. The transfer portal is not how teams build consistency.
Bo Nix is Mr. Auburn, but he’s thinking of leaving. If that happens and the quarterback who was born to be a Tiger heads to another school, then Harsin will have lost the biggest lead of them all.
Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group. He’s on Twitter @JoeGoodmanJr. His new book, “We Want Bama: A Season of Hope and the Formation of Nick Saban’s ‘Ultimate Team’,” is available wherever books are sold.