Bryan Harsin’s Southern Strategy
It's been a little over four months since Bryan Harsin shocked the college football world by leaving his alma mater Boise State for Auburn. The Harsin hire has caused a range of reactions that we will share with you. Harsin's first game as Auburn's head football coach will be against the Akron Zips. One of the worst teams in college football and my alma mater. After that, the Zips, the Tigers face Penn State before opening up in the SEC West.
Significant Endorsement vs. Lower Expectations
Paul Finebaum has been called a lot of names in his storied career. Some of them good: the voice of college football, the voice of the SEC, and some we can't share with you on this family-friendly blog. Paul Finebaum is the EF Hutton of the SEC; when he speaks, everyone listens. (Please Google EF Hutton if you're unfamiliar with that reference.
Mr. Finebaum hosts a daily four-hour national talk show on the SEC television network, Sirus XM Radio, and ESPN Radio. The former Birmingham Post Herald writer has a massive audience. (Editors note, I worked with Paul for years while in Birmingham, Alabama. There is not a better multi platform talent in the business in my opinion.
Saturday Down South summarizes Paul's weekly appearance on radio station WJOX in Birmingham. He mentioned the challenging schedule and the need for offensive upgrades to produce a seven or eight-win season.
The 'Auburn Family'
Auburn has historically hired coaches within the 'Auburn Family.' Harsin accession to the thrown was the work of Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene. The family has been running Auburn or known down south as 'The Plains' for years. It was a particular group of big-money boosters who engineered the coup of former Coach Gus Malzahn. Don't feel sorry for ole Gus. Auburn is paying him $21 million while he coaches UCF this season.
Finebaum told WJOX through 24/7 Sports that Harsin was the best hire of the four new coaches in the SEC. He shared on the radio station that fans must be patient with Harsin due to the difficulties of taking over a team that struggled on offense for the last three years.
Former player voices concerns
Takeo Spikes was a terror to offenses in college and professional football. He is an Auburn Tiger to the core and has an opinion about the Harsin hire. Spikes spoke to the Auburn Wire, saying that culture is very important at Auburn.
"This is one of my first concerns was, wow, like if you want to compete with the big boys in the South, why are we going to get somebody outside of the culture? And I get it, sometimes you got to shake things up," Spikes told Auburn Wire.
Spikes did praise Harsin, selecting a veteran group of SEC coaching veterans and several members of his Boise State staff.
Changing the culture
Coach Harsin told the Athletic how he's working to embrace Auburn's history while changing the culture. It looks like the little things will make a big difference on the field and in the classroom. A few examples are having the players show up for class, attend meetings on time, and everyone wears the same uniform in the weight room. He says mastering small details while explaining them to the players will build team unity.
Coach Harsin credits meeting Auburn legend Bo Jackson with his eventual hiring. If Harsin is to be successful, it will be another Bo who has to make it happen on the field. Experts say returning Junior Quarterback Bo Nix must improve over his regression last year. Nix comes from an Auburn Family but has yet to live up to expectations.
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