Hugh Freeze’s Auburn football future was called into question by a Tiger alum who’s played in offensive lines at both the USFL and NFL levels, Marquel Harrell, on November 19; the day after the Tigers suffered one of the program’s most embarrassing losses of all time to New Mexico State in a 31-10 Week 12 rout.
“Realistically we probably like five years from being good again,” said Harrell, who predicted AU returning to prominence after the completion of Freeze’s first (and perhaps only?) contract handed out by the Tigers’ current brain trust.
Harrell didn’t have the most dramatic response to the unfathomable Auburn loss — that honor belongs to The Opelika-Auburn News’ Justin Lee, who claimed that all of the program’s progress under Freeze in his debut season was erased by the Aggies on November 18.
“Progress erased,” Lee prefaced before saying, “Auburn will be looking for a portal QB in December after all. Auburn will have to shakeup its offensive staff after all. And there’s more. Year 0 is just that, now: Zero progress. Freeze will try again from scratch.”
Auburn football progress not erased, but momentum is halted
There’s no way around it: losing to New Mexico State is a near-death sentence to the Tigers’ momentum in 2023 on the field. Not unless the historic loss was merely a set-up to the greatest Iron Bowl punchline of all time.
Sell your soul with a loss to New Mexico State for a chance to spoil Alabama’s College Football Playoff hopes. What Tiger fan isn’t taking that deal?
Lee’s assessment veers too dramatically, though there are truths to the changes that are set to be made. With so much uncertainty in the offseason, Auburn either gets its best from an emotional group that doesn’t want to see a Deion Sanders-esque transfer portal exodus and coaching overhaul or it gets a disjointed product against the Crimson Tide. The 2023 Iron Bowl may have even more intrigue than it did previously based on that question alone.
After all, college football is built on the sort of nonsensical stats that a 2023 Auburn team would have if it lost to New Mexico State one week just to turn around and beat Alabama the next.