Bryan Harsin to Remain Auburn HC Despite Investigation into Conduct

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 11, 2022

FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS - OCTOBER 16:  Head Coach Bryan Harsin of the Auburn Tigers on the sidelines during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium on October 16, 2021 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 38-23.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Auburn University announced Friday that it is retaining Bryan Harsin as its head football coach despite an investigation into his handling of the program.

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

Auburn announces the school is retaining coach Bryan Harsin. <a href="https://t.co/ObuWqMofX5">pic.twitter.com/ObuWqMofX5</a>

ESPN's Pete Thamel and Chris Low reported earlier Friday that Auburn had decided to keep Harsin in the fold.

Per Thamel, the investigation into Harsin was launched after 20 players and five coaches left the program following Harsin's first season as head coach of the Tigers in 2021.

Auburn went a disappointing 6-7 and lost to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl, sealing the Tigers' first losing season since 2012.

Thamel reported that Auburn interviewed players, assistant coaches and staffers in an effort to gather information about Harsin's tenure. Harsin called all rumors and speculation of misconduct "bulls--t."

As noted by Thamel, Auburn would have owed Harsin $18.3 million over five years if it fired him, with $9.15 million of it being owed over the next month.

Auburn hired Harsin in December 2020 after firing Gus Malzahn. The school was banking on Harsin's success at Boise State translating to the SEC.

After going 7-5 in his only season as the head coach at Arkansas State in 2013, Harsin went 69-19 in seven seasons at Boise State. That included three Mountain West titles and three bowl wins.

Of the players who have transferred from Auburn under Harsin, quarterback Bo Nix is the most notable name.

Nix was Auburn's primary starter under center for the past three seasons and threw for 2,294 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions in 10 games in 2021, but he made the decision to transfer to Oregon.

On the coaching side, defensive coordinator Derek Mason left Auburn for Oklahoma State despite having to take a $400,000 pay cut, per Thamel.

Also, offensive coordinator Austin Davis resigned just six weeks after getting hired due to "personal reasons."