The dilemma Auburn is in with Bryan Harsin might be taking a turn. There is a small chance that one of two things will happen. One is Auburn fails to establish a provable basis for firing Harsin for cause. Forced to spend $18M, with $9M due within 30 days, Auburn blinks at the cost and decides to keep its ‘lame-duck’ coach until it can build a stronger case for termination.
The second one results from a stunned set of Auburn power-brokers failing to find a suitable replacement. As I discussed in an earlier post, it is being rumored outgoing Auburn President Jay Gogue opposes hiring Hugh Freeze.
Could it be that Lane Kiffin and others are too smart to leap into the Auburn mess at any price? Former Auburn head coach, Gus Malzahn has only cautiously commented on the Auburn situation.
"I’m not going to get into what’s going on there. I just feel blessed to be here"
What Malzahn is saying privately to other coaches is likely a more complete retelling of his days in Auburn. Former Auburn Defensive Coordinator, Derek Mason is respected by his peers. Andy Staples provided insight on what Mason taking a pay cut to leave Auburn for Oklahoma State means,
"From a source close to Auburn: “When you a get a guy like Derek Mason who is so well-respected and he’s wanting to get out like that, that should tell you a lot.”"
Other than maybe Kevin Steele, no coach worth hiring is going to entertain an offer from Auburn without talking to Malzahn, Mason and other departees from the Auburn program.
Steele’s case is interesting. He is believed to be in high favor in Auburn. Reportedly, a contingent of Auburn power boosters wanted Steele hired instead of Bryan Harsin. Earlier this week, Steele was announced as the new Defensive Coordinator for Mario Cristobal in Miami. Steele jumps around often, including a short stop at Tennessee where he was employed for less than two months. He has not been more than an interim head coach since 2002. In four seasons at Baylor, his teams went 9-36.
There is little reason to believe Steele would not bolt from Miami after an offer from Auburn. Maybe what is happening on the Plains is Auburn will somewhat patiently build a new case for termination of Bryan Harsin. The Tigers will be an awful team next season whatever happens. As long as they know Steele will make the move whenever called, not rushing could save them most or all of $18M.
As Alabama fans, we can enjoy the misfortune Auburn has brought in itself. There was a time when Auburn fans had reason to do the same about Crimson Tide coaching misfortune.