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Auburn's Bryan Harsin Says Internal Probe Was a Personal Attack on Him, His Family

Adam WellsJuly 21, 2022

Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Auburn football head coach Bryan Harsin apparently had a dramatic experience amid the school's internal investigation into his handling of the program earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters at SEC media days on Thursday, Harsin called the investigation "an opportunity for people to personally attack me, my family and also our program."

In February, the school confirmed to ESPN's Pete Thamel it was making an inquiry into Harsin's status as head coach after 20 players and five coaches left the program following the 2021 season.

After the inquiry was complete, Auburn announced on Feb. 11 it was retaining Harsin as head coach.

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

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

According to Thamel, Auburn officials spoke with players, assistant coaches and staffers to gather information about Harsin's tenure.

Harsin told Thamel that any attacks on his character were "bulls--t."

During his press conference Thursday, Harsin said the Tigers didn't have the most player losses in the SEC West.

"That's not mentioned, whether that's relevant or not just, it is what it is. Coaching changes happen, and we brought in new players," he said.

Harsin also pointed out the difficulty of a program bringing in a new coach during the COVID-19 pandemic:

"The first team meeting was in the indoor facility with the swamp coolers on six feet apart, everybody wearing masks and nobody could hear anything. And you're trying to bring this energy and enthusiasm and it was a bad environment. And we had to meet over in the business building and there was a lot of things that didn't allow us to come in right away and establish."

There was no discernible hit to the Tigers in recruiting following the investigation. They finished 21st nationally in 247Sports composite team rankings for 2022 with 18 commits.

Auburn hired Harsin in December 2020 after Gus Malzahn was fired. The 45-year-old had a successful seven-year run with a 69-19 record at Boise State from 2014 to 2020.

Things started out well for the Tigers under Harsin. They were 6-2 after eight games, highlighted by back-to-back wins over Arkansas and Mississippi.

Auburn finished the season with five consecutive losses, including a 17-13 defeat at the hands of Houston in the Birmingham Bowl. The Tigers came close to upsetting Alabama in the Iron Bowl, losing 24-22 in four overtimes.

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