Why Auburn football's Bryan Harsin has his back against the wall so early in his tenure
There's recent precedent for firing a coach after two seasons, too.
In November 2019, Arkansas fired Chad Morris amid his second season. Months later, Mississippi Sate fired Joe Moorhead after his second season.
Harsin's tenure survived an internal investigation this winter that spilled into the public eye, and AU came off looking like it had staged an unsuccessful kangaroo court.
Harsin soldiers on, but he'll enter Year 2 without a whiff of momentum and after enduring a mass exodus of player transfers and staff departures.
Old-school logic suggested coaches required a degree of patience and that firing a coach could set a program back in the short term. Hitting the reset button could yield one step backward before two steps forward.
Recently, though, several SEC coaches' early success serves as a counterargument to that theory.
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Sam Pittman, Morris' replacement at Arkansas, won nine games in Year 2, while Lane Kiffin led Ole Miss to the Sugar Bowl in his second season. Tennessee's Josh Heupel and South Carolina's Shane Beamer won seven games in their debuts last season, an improvement on their predecessors.
Their success indicates that schools are better off ripping off the bandage and trying again, rather than persisting with a struggling coach.
Of course, recruiting momentum can be a salve for an embattled coach, but there, too, Harsin has struck a wall.
Auburn has two commitments in its 2023 recruiting class, the fewest pledges among SEC schools. The offseason investigation surely did his recruiting efforts no favors.
The NCAA's 2021 rule change granting immediate eligibility for transfers offers another avenue for new coaches to beef up their roster -- but it strips away at the argument in support of patience.
Also in this episode
- Toppmeyer makes the case that, on the whole, a 14-team Big 12 including Oklahoma and Texas could be stronger than the SEC. Adams scoffs at the idea.
- Adams suggests that, after OU and Texas join the SEC, the Big 12 strike back by trying to peel off two SEC members. Toppmeyer proposes a few Group of Five candidates that he thinks are more realistic for the Big 12 to chase.