Auburn football hiring Bryan Harsin in December 2020 was a “dumb” move according to Mike Farrell of Mike Farrell Sports, who believes the damage done by his tenure could hold the Tigers back during the early days of the Hugh Freeze era.
“Are (the Tigers) a power program? They are to me with a natty in the last 15 years and another national title game appearance as well,” Farrell prefaced before saying, “But the Gus Malzahn days at the end were bad, and the Bryan Harsin hire was dumb. Hugh Freeze is a good hire, but it will take time and patience for them to get back to respectable.”
One of the major pitfalls of the Harsin era on the Plains was the scarcity of 4-star and 5-star recruits. Auburn football fell to the No. 15 spot in the nation after he left, and nearly fell below 50% for their blue-chip ratio.
Hugh Freeze has a built-in excuse if Auburn football sputters out of the gates
Freeze is in a good position, all things considered, when it comes to the expectations of him as head coach of the Tigers. Because Harsin did so little on the recruiting trail and turned away many of the recruits Gus Malzahn brought in for the 2021 class, there are very few pundits legitimately expecting AU to rise out of the ashes in Freeze’s first year.
Obviously, the winning will have to start at some point, but a six or seven-win season won’t be the end of the world for the new coaching regime in 2023. That’s because Freeze has shown in the seven months since being hired that he will hit the trail hard and do everything that Harsin didn’t.
In the final season of a two-division SEC before a massive reset for the conference in 2024 when Texas and Oklahoma officially become members, the Tigers this coming season simply need to begin making progress toward a nine or two-win season during the first year of the expanded College Football Playoff.