The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference
The Official Website of the Southeastern Conference

Bryan Harsin Embraces Auburn

553 days ago
Kevin Scarbinsky
Photo: Fred Daniels

Good-luck texts. New Auburn coach Bryan Harsin got them before his first appearance at SEC Media Days. Plenty of them. And then, as he approached the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel, he saw the enormous SEC logo with the motto, "It Just Means More."

It was just the latest confirmation of something he witnessed from afar at Boise State.

"The SEC's got it figured out."

It's up to Harsin to figure out how to succeed Gus Malzahn as a head coach for the second time. When Malzahn left Arkansas State after one season to become the Auburn head coach, Harsin succeeded him in Jonesboro. And then faced him to open the 2013 season in their debuts in those jobs.

Harsin's first impression of game day in Jordan-Hare Stadium: "You can't hear a thing. It's shaking on the field. It's difficult. I experienced that in a bad way at Arkansas State. Now those folks are going to be on our side."

Harsin earned an endorsement in his new endeavor from Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who knows the players and the territory. Drinkwitz worked for Malzahn at Arkansas State and Auburn and for Harsin at Arkansas State and Boise State.

Drinkwitz said of the new Auburn coach: "He's got a tremendous plan. The thing about Coach Harsin is he always has a plan for everything he does. You're going to see that unfold at Auburn. I'm not up here to put undue expectations on anybody else. I think the Auburn fan base does that well enough by themselves."

Hello. Those expectations are part of the reason that Malzahn, despite beating rival Alabama in 2017 and 2019, is now the coach at Central Florida and Harsin has taken the baton at Auburn. Harsin, for one, is embracing the opportunity.

It didn't matter that he was comfortable at Boise State, his alma mater in his hometown, where he went 69-19 over the last seven years with seven bowl trips. Or that he and his family had just built a home there and "our mindset was, 'This is where we want to be.' "

When Auburn Athletics Director Allen Greene called, Harsin said, "it piqued my interest more than any other place."

"As far as what you're getting into, here's what I think," Harsin said. "For me as a coach and as a competitor, everything I do, I want to win. So the preparation and all the things that go into that, it doesn't matter if I'm at (Boise's) Capital High School or I'm at Auburn and coaching the football team there. It all matters.

"I know that the microscope is a lot different at Auburn, but that was part of it, too. As a competitor, and I said this, this is why you come to Auburn. This is why you want to be in the SEC. You want to play against the best."

He wants to experience all the flavor of an Auburn game day, but unlike that 2013 trip with Arkansas State, in a good way.

"I'm excited about Tiger Walk," Harsin said. "I want to walk from South Donahue all the way down into Jordan-Hare Stadium, and I want to see all those people yelling, 'War Eagle!' And I want to be able to be part of a program that, when you win, your fans go crazy and go downtown and we toilet-paper trees. I mean, how awesome is that?"