Auburn hires Boise State's Harsin to lead football program
Auburn hired Boise State's Bryan Harsin as head coach on Tuesday and lured him from his alma mater to the powerful Southeastern Conference.
The 44-year-old Harsin is 69:19 with three Mountain West titles in seven seasons at Boise State, but a win in the SEC offers better odds for playoff spots and national titles.
The Auburn job is sure to come with a significant raise as well, although the contract details for Harsin were not immediately available.
"I am incredibly excited and humble about the opportunity to be in a place like Auburn University," Harsin said in a statement. `` I knew it was going to be a special opportunity to get me out of Boise, and Auburn is just that, the chance to compete at the highest level for one of the greatest programs in college football.
"I have great respect for the coaches and players at the Southeastern Conference, but I am willing to help build a foundation in Auburn where we can consistently fight for championships."
That was easier said than done in the brutal SEC West chaired by rival Alabama.
Auburn fired Gus Malzahn earlier this month after playing 6-4 in his eighth season - a move that cost the school more than $ 21 million to buy out the former coach's contract.
Auburn was an up and down program that won the national championship under Gene Chizik before falling into a rapid decline.
The Tigers turned to Malzahn, the offensive coordinator of the team led by Cam Newton. Malzahn led Auburn to the Southeastern Conference championship and national championship game in its first 2013 season. Since then, the Tigers have lost at least four games in each of their seven seasons.
Meanwhile, Auburn's main competitors have done well. Alabama has been a consistent contender, and Georgia has emerged as a national power as well, making it even harder for Auburn to advance in the field and down the recruiting path.
The Tigers sought their next bus from more than 2,100 miles away.
"He's a proven winner whose record speaks for itself," said Allen Greene, Auburn Sporting Director. "Coach Harsin impressed me with his detailed plan to get Auburn to consistently compete for championships in the Southeastern Conference."
Harsin replaced Malzahn in the state of Arkansas in 2013 and won a share of the Sun Belt Conference title in his lonely season before returning to his alma mater.
His name was barely mentioned when reports were exchanged between potential candidates, from Alabama Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian, to Mario Cristobal of Oregon, Billy Napier of Louisiana, and Bill Clark of UAB.
"Our search has been diligent and thoughtful, and it is unfortunate that so much misinformation has been spread about the process in the past few days," said Jay Gogue, President of Auburn, although it was not clear what exactly he was referring to.
Harsin has a proven track record as a head coach, more than any other Auburn coach in recent years. Malzahn only had one season as college head coach. Chizik had a loss record in Iowa State.
Tommy Tuberville was 12-20 on the SEC in Mississippi. Then there's Harsin, who sustained the success of one of college football's best Group of Five programs.
A win in the 2014 Mountain West Championship game marked the Boise State's first overall victory since joining the conference in 2011, and the first overall victory since 2009. Harsin is the only alumnus to coach the Broncos in their history. He has won conference championships as a player. Assistant coach and head coach.
Boise State won at least nine games in each of its first six seasons. The Broncos finished 5-2 that year, losing to San Jose State # 19 in the league title. Boise State decided not to play a bowl game.
Boise State President Marlene Tromp praised Harsin's contributions to the program but was confident the win would continue under his successor, for whom the school would conduct a national search.
"Boise State has been on a formidable path for decades and has effectively built on our previous successes," Tromp said in a statement posted on the football program's Twitter account.
"Each of our head coaches has used their unique talents to enhance the excellence of this program - an excellence we have all expected - and we are confident our next coach will do the same."
Auburn will play at Citrus Bowl # 15 Northwestern on New Years Day. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is serving as the Tigers' interim coach and was originally considered a permanent candidate.
AP College Football writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.
More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
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