Auburn football: Grading Bryan Harsin’s coaching hires

Auburn football Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn football Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Auburn football has ushered in a new era with Bryan Harsin installed as the new coach. How did Harsin do filling out his coaching staff?

Bryan Harsin wasted no time building up the chain of command for his Auburn football staff this week, practically making a headline hire every single day of the week.

Today has been a particularly important day for the Tigers, as new defensive and offensive coordinators have been named. A new era has truly begun on the Plains with the men in charge of the offensive vision and defensive culture being chosen.

How does Fly War Eagle grade these choices?

I suppose you clicked on the URL to find out, right?

Read on, and War Eagle…

Derek Mason: B+

Getting a head coach from an SEC school to serve as your underling is pretty impressive. The Mountain West’s defining locker-room leader at Boise State was able to bring Derek Mason into his staff as his defensive coordinator.

Mason is a good hire, but if we’re being real, his results as a head coach are not exactly inspiring. He did not have a single winning season for Vandy since being hired in 2014, although his teams have withstood the brutality of the SEC East with a few upsets over the years over the likes of Georgia, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.

Last season, his team was the 121st-ranked defense in yards per game, surrendering 487 yards per game. He’ll have a severely better Auburn defense to oversee, but there could have been more excitement surrounding a Marcus Freeman hire. For what it’s worth, Freeman is being looked at by LSU, who finished with a worse record than the Tigers in 2020.

Mike Bobo: A-

Stealing Gamecocks OC Mike Bobo away from South Carolina was a great coup by Bryan Harsin, especially after Auburn football had the 48th-ranked recruiting class in 2021. That is an area of immediate improvement, and Bobo will inherit greater weapons than they had in Columbia, where, as Jacob Elsey writes, the offense was on an uptick this past season:

"Bobo was a holdover from the previous staff at South Carolina, after the Gamecocks showed marked improvement in a variety of areas along the offensive unit.With Bobo leading the group, the Gamecocks saw starting tailback Kevin Harris lead the SEC in rushing, and had a top ten receiver in senior Shi Smith. Their were questions about his keeping transfer quarterback Collin Hill in the lineup throughout a season of struggles, but for the most part, the offense seemed to be ticking up."

With weapons like Cartavius “Tank” Bigsby, and eventually Dematrius Davis, the Tigers could become one of the most exciting offenses under Bobo.

Will Friend: A-

Friend joins Bobo from the Gamecocks. His hire, in conjunction with Bobo’s, creates continuity for an Auburn football team that is undergoing large-scale changes in 2021.

Spencer Danielson: A

Spencer Danielson’s Boise State Broncos defense was as impermeable as they come in 2020:

"…his guys were able to hold opposing offenses to under 2,700 yards on the season, a feat that was only accomplished by four other teams that played seven or more games. The MAC’s Buffalo, Iowa, San Diego State, Wisconsin, and THE Ohio State University aka the team standing in the way of another Alabama National Championship is BSU’s company."

This was an obvious home run for Harsin to bring his co-defensive coordinator with him to Auburn football.

Jeff Pitman: A

Harsin himself makes me feel a lot better about the hiring of Jeff Pitman with his adulation for his former and current strength and conditioning coach:

"“Coach Pitman brings three decades of collegiate strength coaching and player development to the Auburn Family,” Harsin said. “He has been an instrumental part of many championship teams and players he has worked with leave their time with him praising Coach Pitman for developing them as football players and men. We know his approach in the weight room and other performance areas will make our players better all-around, especially as he specializes with our men up front on the offensive and defensive lines.”"

Overall, Auburn football fans have every reason to be hopeful for the Tigers in 2021. While they didn’t get the flashiest names, they hired men that should be able to lead an Auburn squad into the post-Gus Malzahn era.

Next. QB recruit Dematrius Davis looks dominant. dark