Auburn has hired Boise State coach Bryan Harsin to take over its program, replacing Gus Malzahn following a rapid search process. Harsin was 69-19 in seven seasons as the Broncos' coach, winning Mountain West titles in 2014, 2017 and 2019.
In joining the Tigers, Harsin again follows in the footsteps of Malzahn. He previously took over Arkansas State in 2013 after Malzahn was hired by Auburn. Harsin went 7-5 and won the Sun Belt in his lone season with the Red Wolves before heading out west to lead his alma mater Boise State.
"I'm incredibly excited and humbled for the opportunity to be at a place like Auburn University," Harsin said in a statement announcing his hiring. "I knew it would take a special opportunity to get me out of Boise and Auburn is exactly that, the chance to compete at the highest level for one of the greatest programs in college football. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the coaches and players in the Southeastern Conference, but am ready to help build a foundation at Auburn where we can consistently compete for championships. I want our program to make Auburn proud both on and off the field with consistent excellence. I'm very grateful to [athletic director] Allen Greene and [president] Dr. [Jay] Gogue for this opportunity. Kes, our kids and I can't wait to meet the Auburn family and get to work! War Eagle!"
Harsin is known for a system that puts an emphasis on physicality along both lines of scrimmage and a creative offensive scheme out of the spread. His system has produced 3,000-yard passers in four of his first six seasons and, had Hank Bachmeier not suffered from injury last season, could have put up a fifth.
"We are thrilled to welcome coach Harsin to the Auburn family," Greene said. "He's a proven winner whose record speaks for itself. coach Harsin impressed me with his detailed plan to lead Auburn to consistently compete for championships in the Southeastern Conference. I'm grateful to Gen. [Ron] Burgess, Quentin Riggins and each member of our advisory committee for their commitment to Auburn during this process. We look forward to welcoming Bryan, Kes and their children to the Plains to introduce them to the Auburn family."
The biggest question facing Harsin now is his staff. Recruiting is the most important aspect of any SEC coach's job, and Harsin's limited experience in the SEC footprint could become a problem if he doesn't hire the right assistant coaches. It's unclear who will be on Harsin's first staff on the Plains, but a group of energetic recruiters with deep ties in the south will help him transition to his new role in the toughest division in college football.
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, who compiled a 68-35 record with a 39-27 mark in SEC play, after eight seasons with the program. Malzahn led Auburn to an SEC championship victory and appearance in the BCS Championship Game during his first season in 2013 but advanced to just one SEC Championship Game (2017) in the years since He will be paid a $21 million buyout as part of his seven-year, $49 million contract signed two seasons ago.
Liberty coach Hugh Freeze and Tigers defensive coordinator Kevin Steele were among the initial candidates tied to the vacancy upon the school parting ways with Malzahn. Others such as Louisiana coach , Clemson defensive coordinator and UAB coach Bill Clark have recently passed on the opportunity to lead the Tigers.
A native of Boise, Idaho, Harsin has only spent two years in the Power Five as co-offensive coordinator of Texas from 2011-12. He has never coached in the SEC. Harsin won approximately 70% of his games or more in all seven seasons leading Boise State. His teams finished in the AP Top 25 and/or played for a bowl game in every season.