Bryan Harsin didn’t make it through a second season at Auburn.
The university announced Monday that Harsin has been fired just 21 games into his tenure as the Tigers’ coach. The firing comes as Auburn is 3-5 and struggling at the bottom of the SEC West. The Tigers lost 41-27 to Arkansas on Saturday, giving Harsin a 9-12 record as Auburn head coach.
"Auburn University has decided to make a change in the leadership of the football program. President Roberts made the decision after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the football program," the university said in a statement. "Auburn will begin an immediate search for a coach that will return the Auburn program to a place where it is consistently competing at the highest levels and representing the winning tradition that is Auburn football."
It was clear after the first season that Harsin’s tenure in Auburn was likely heading for disaster. The Tigers went 6-7 in his first season and lost to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl. Numerous Auburn players transferred in the offseason amid rumors of program tumult and Auburn even launched an investigation into Harsin’s program.
The former Boise State coach kept his job after that investigation, though the existence of that investigation was an obvious sign of dysfunction within the athletic department. Harsin’s firing also comes after the departure of athletic director Allen Greene in August. Greene hired Harsin after the school fired Gus Malzahn at the end of the 2020 season.
John Cohen, the former athletic director at Mississippi State, is expected to be announced as Auburn's new athletic director imminently. Cohen, once he officially takes over, is expected to lead the search for a new Auburn football coach.
Auburn was Harsin’s third head coaching job. He spent a season as the head coach at Arkansas State in 2013 — where he coincidentally also succeeded Malzahn — and was hired at Boise State in 2014 as Chris Petersen’s successor. Boise State won 10 or more games in five of Harsin’s six full seasons and was 5-2 in the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign.
Harsin has a career record of 85-36 as a head coach and is expected to receive a $15 million buyout.
The move to part ways with Harsin means that Auburn is on the look again for a head coach that it hopes can have the Tigers competing with Alabama and Nick Saban atop the SEC West. Whoever Auburn hires next will be the fifth coach the school has had since Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa.
And while Auburn can boast a national title during Saban’s tenure, the Tigers have won 10 games just twice since that 2010 season under Gene Chizik. Auburn hasn’t won nine games in a season since the 2019 season and the Tigers haven’t been to the SEC title game since the 2017 season.