When Bryan Harsin was hired at the conclusion of the 2020 season following Gus Malzahn's firing, the Auburn football program was a "really bad situation" -- this, at least, from college football insider Bruce Feldman's point of view during a conversation with Paul Finebaum that was primarily focused on Kalen DeBoer and the "Husky Harsin" phenomenon.
“I’ve seen comparisons within the last 24 hours about him and Harsin, but you know, they’re not very similar, to be honest,” Feldman said on the January 12 edition of The Paul Finebaum Show (h/t On3). “They don’t come from the same coaching tree, they don’t have the same temperament. They’re both offensive guys at the core, they both come from small towns from far away. But I think that’s kind of where the similarity ends.
“And also, Harsin jumped into a really bad situation. They didn’t want him there. As you know, the dynamic was all screwy from the moment he got there. I think here, you have an AD who really wants you. It’s a tough situation, but I just think the dynamic is way different.”
2020 Auburn football problems seem minor compared to last few season's
At the conclusion of a 2020 season that would've been seen in a far different light had the Tigers simply beaten South Carolina, football-focused drama led to Gus Malzahn's ouster, Harsin's hiring, and eventually, the reason why Malzahn was fired, Kevin Steele, also moving on after not being retained by the Boise native.
The last few years, it's been off-field issues that have bogged down Auburn football. 2020 seems like a simple time in comparison.
What happened with the coaching staff's latest shakeups in the past week were not, contrary to prevalent hearsay and even speculation on this writer's part, a Hugh Freeze-sanctioned decision (outside of Philip Montgomery), but a decision from the higher-ups was made to mutually part ways with coaches who may have been responsible for what some AU players refer to as "loose leashes."
The Harsin inquiry speaks for itself. Most Tiger fans probably have a negative connotation with the word inquiry now after the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
Every year of the post-COVID/NIL era on the Plains has been controversial and unsuccessful from an on-field standpoint. Again, 6-4 with a bowl-game loss doesn't sound so bad right now for Tiger fans.