Auburn fires Bryan Harsin: Tigers end awkward, unsuccessful tenure of second-year coach

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Auburn fired coach Bryan Harsin on Monday following a 41-27 loss to Arkansas, putting an end to an awkward and unsuccessful tenure on The Plains. Harsin was relieved of his duties as the Tigers fell two games below .500 to 3-5 on the season with the program dropping 10 of its last 13 games and nine of its last 10 against Power Five opponents dating back to last season.

“Auburn University has decided to make a change in the leadership of the Auburn University football program,” the school said in a statement. “President Christopher Roberts made the decision after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the football program. Auburn will begin an immediate search for a coach that will return the Auburn program to a place where it is consistently competing at the highest levels and representing the winning tradition that is Auburn football.”

Harsin finishes 9-12 (4-9 SEC) in less than two full seasons on the job after taking over for Gus Malzahn following the 2020 campaign. Malzahn was 67-35 (38-27 SEC) in eight seasons at Auburn.

Harsin entered the 2022 season on one of the hottest seats in the country despite spending only one year on The Plains. Following a 6-7 debut in 2021 that ended with five straight losses, school power brokers attempted a coup to oust Harsin from his position. Frustrations over roster and coaching staff turnover, as well as Harsin’s failure to sign a single player on the traditional National Signing Day in February, kicked off a week-long saga during which powerful people associated with the Auburn athletic department reportedly sought to fire Harsin for cause. The move would have allowed those in power to avoid paying a roughly $15 million buyout. 

The effort ultimately failed. Auburn retained Harsin for a second season, though he was by no means on solid ground. In August, athletic director Allen Greene, who was instrumental in hiring Harsin, announced he was stepping down from the program. With the Tigers needing to hire a new AD, Harsin’s survival became even more tenuous.

Auburn is in the process of hiring Mississippi State AD John Cohen to the same role, according to multiple reports.

Harsin did little to quell the mounting tension in Year 2. Auburn beat San Jose State by just eight points in Week 2, a win that preceded a blowout loss at home to Penn State and a wild overtime win over Missouri on a walk-off touchback. The Tigers followed that with losses to LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss and Arkansas consecutively to send Harsin packing. 

A former quarterback at Boise State, the 45-year-old Harsin arrived to Auburn after a successful run at his alma mater where he went 69-19 and won three Mountain West titles. His stint in Boise came after one season as the coach at Arkansas State where he went 7-5 in 2013 and won a share of the Sun Belt championship.

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