Sunday may not be D-Day, as in, decision day down in the loveliest village on the Plains. The Bryan Harsin saga may drag out for several more days. There are three probable reasons why Auburn power-brokers have not yet moved from the ‘cutting bait’ stage.
The main reason is clear; the best resolution for Auburn is firing Bryan Harsin for cause. No doubt every effort, reasonable or not, is being made to accomplish that task. If that effort fails, the heavy price tag for firing Harsin without cause, could be the second reason. Not only is $18M and change a lot of money, but ESPN also reported $9.3M would be owed Harson within 30 days of his termination. The third reason for delay is the Tigers need to make sure they have a next head coach option available, once there is an opening.
Current Auburn AD, Allen Greene is a lame duck. Auburn has named a new President recently. Its outgoing President, Jay Gogue recently commented,
"(Auburn is) trying to separate fact from fiction (about) rumors and speculation."
Separating fact from fiction has long been a challenge for Auburn, but that is another story. In the ESPN story linked above “an industry source familiar with the school’s inner-workings” said,
"Auburn is always going through transition in leadership. Therefore there’s no way to ever tell who is in control."
It is safe to say those in control are not employed by Auburn University. Auburn President Jay Gogue also said Auburn is “moving quickly” to make an “appropriate decision.”
Potential Bryan Harsin Replacements
Getting back to what coach might be interested in replacing Bryan Harsin, ESPN’s Chris Low had some interesting thoughts. Low stated there would be considerable support for Kevin Steele to be hired. Steele was a favorite of some boosters before Harsin was hired. Not many coaches may be willing to jump into the Auburn mess, but no doubt Steele would relish the opportunity. Why Auburn is so enamored with Steele, who has a career head coaching record of 9-37, should be a danger sign to other potential head coaches. Apparently, some Auburn boosters believe Steele would be more pliant in program decisions than more successful coaches. Auburn can easily put an end to Steele’s frequent job-hopping as an assistant.
Can Hugh Freeze return to SEC Football?
Chris Low stated Hugh Freeze, Lane Kiffin and Mike Gundy could be options for Auburn once Harsin is fired. Freeze would certainly fit into Auburn’s history of embracing rules-breakers. Maybe Gundy would take on the job, but Lane Kiffin, for all his faults, should be too smart to have anything to do with Auburn.
Could it be the Auburn program, after losing millions last season, is so cash-starved, immediate payment of $9.3M is more than can be funded? Surely that is not a problem.