After a search that seemed to lose top candidates daily lately, Auburn is closing on Bryan Harsin as its next football coach.
When Auburn fired Gus Malzahn, they probably didn’t see it going quite this way to replace him. Top candidates Hugh Freeze, Brent Venables, Billy Napier and Bill Clark dropped out of consideration, choosing to stay at Liberty, Clemson (as defensive coordinator), Louisiana and UAB respectively. But according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports, Auburn is closing in on Boise State’s Bryan Harsin as its next football coach. A deal is expected soon.
Harsin is in his seventh season as head coach at his alma mater, with a 69-19 record. Counting one season at Arkansas State, he is 76-24 with four conference titles in eight seasons as a head coach. Recently, emails were revealed where Harsin recommended Boise State find a new conference for football after the Mountain West initially decided to not have a 2020 season. To that end on a more formal note, Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports recently reported the AAC is looking at Boise State football to join its conference.
Bryan Harsin is an off-the-grid hire for Auburn
Harsin is widely acknowledged as a top offensive mind and quarterback developer. His roots are deep at Boise, from playing quarterback for the school to spending most of his coaching career there. Outside of that season at Arkansas State (2013), two seasons at Texas as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2011 and 2012) and a one-year coaching start as an assistant at Eastern Washington, Harsin has been at Boise State every other season since 2000.
So it was going to take a unique opportunity to get him to leave, as he perhaps followed the path of Chris Petersen from Boise State to a Pac-12 job (USC?). But as Thamel noted, Boise State has recently changed presidents and does not have a full-time athletic director to go with the recent surfacing of documents showing interest in changing leagues.
Auburn was quickly forced to go a little off the grid to replace Malzahn. Maybe Harsin is the right guy and can succeed where Malzahn generally failed, even if fans will probably have to warm up to the idea of him.