Culture is important across the sports universe, but in college football, that is doubly the case due to the sheer size of each school’s roster of up to 125 players and the accompanying youth. First-year Auburn football head coach Bryan Harsin is trying to establish a disciplined culture on the Plains and the results speak to that.
At 5-2, with two key wins on the road against SEC West rivals LSU and Arkansas, the Tigers are trending towards finishing in not only the top half of the entire conference but also towards qualifying for a notable bowl game.
The culture is working.
So far, Harsin has had to make tough decisions regarding the team’s roster and coaching personnel, but they have all ultimately benefitted the programs’ performance as a whole. Surviving and thriving under adversity is a hallmark of a strong season.
And we’re at an inflection point in said season, following the bye week, that tends to go in Harsin’s favor historically (per AL.com):
Since 2013, when Harsin got his first head coaching opportunity at Arkansas State, his teams are 8-1 coming off an in-season bye week. That doesn’t include the 2020 season, when the pandemic resulted in unpredictable scheduling and postponed and canceled games.
In those nine games, the average margin has favored Harsin’s teams by two touchdowns.
During the bye week, Harsin and co. had a chance to internalize the team and what they should be focused on instead of needing to game-plan for a specific opponent. As Tom Green points out, there’s no draconian practices Harsin has ever deployed to get a cooperative effort from his guys.
Instead, working on themselves and working on getting better–and not being distracted by the outside chatter on non-football matters–are what could be the reasoning behind Harsin’s post-bye week record moving to 9-1 tonight against Ole Miss, and Auburn football keeping their SEC West record unblemished in 2021.