Auburn football: Barrett Sallee’s goal for Bryan Harsin? Compete every game

Auburn football head coach Bryan Harsin during warm ups before Auburn football A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 17, 2021.
Auburn football head coach Bryan Harsin during warm ups before Auburn football A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 17, 2021. /
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With normalcy being restored across the world, a full Jordan-Hare Stadium will restore the Plains to pre-pandemic levels of community for all of Auburn this fall. Auburn football is looking for a more micro-scale restoration following a 6-5 season that saw the team go from ranked #10 in the preseason to losing to the Gamecocks in Columbia and losing by three scores to Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl.

Gus Malzahn saw success at Auburn, but not towards the end of his tenure. The Tigers last saw New Year’s 6 Bowl action in 2018, and the offense was beyond stagnant in 2020 besides the backfield making plays with their feet.

With Bryan Harsin now at the helm, the quarterback play of Bo Nix is expected to improve. His dark horse Heisman candidacy be damned (it’s a joke, breathe Bama fans), a National Championship in year one is not terribly likely.

And that’s okay, says Barrett Sallee. What wouldn’t be okay is a repeat performance of the 2020 season, when Auburn football lost by a combined 61 points to Alabama, Georgia, and Texas A&M. Per Sallee, that should be the primary expectation of Harsin’s inaugural Tiger run:

"Compete in every game — including Alabama:What do the numbers 21, 29 and 11 have in common? Those were the numbers Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M defeated Auburn by in 2020, respectively. That is unacceptable and, quite frankly, a big reason why Gus Malzahn was fired. Harsin has to change that; Auburn should not be blown out in the majority of its big games."

Agreed. While telling UGA fans that their team hasn’t won since 1980 is still fun, it’s losing its punch since the Bulldogs had little issues beating them last season. Ditto bragging about the 2019 Iron Bowl considering the Tide’s historical 2020 season…and Iron Bowl destruction at BDS this past November.

If winning can’t happen, competing must. The confidence of the Plains in this new coaching staff depends on it:

"Championships should be the expectation at Auburn. After all, Malzahn won a national title as Auburn’s offensive coordinator in 2010, went to the national title game in his first season as head coach in 2013 and won the SEC West in 2017. It’s unlikely that Harsin will follow in those footsteps in 2021, but the fanbase and decision-makers on the Plains need to know that he can in the near future. If the Tigers can have a chance to win — and perhaps spring an upset or two — in their biggest games this season, he will accomplish that goal."

Say less Sallee. You understand the stakes of this upcoming season.

It’s not championship or bust for Auburn football, but laying eggs in rivalry games is not acceptable in 2021.

Luckily, head coach Harsin likely agrees with that sentiment.

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