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Is this the end for Bryan Harsin?

The scoreboard read 28-3. Auburn fans were excited, and rightfully so, about the possibility of going 2-0 against the schools in Mississippi. However, that excitement faded much like the rest of the 2021 season for the Tigers. Mississippi State would eventually win the game 43-38 and was one of several consecutive games where Auburn saw second-half collapses. That downward spiral would be the offseason catalyst for fans and stakeholders to question if Bryan Harsin is the right guy for this program.

It was the same song last Saturday against LSU. During the first half, new starting quarterback Robby Ashford looked like the highly-touted prospect we thought he was. He and the Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead before giving up 21 unanswered and losing 21-17. The players must do their job and execute the plays, but where is Bryan Harsin’s ability to produce in-game adjustments?

That’s not going to cut it, especially in the toughest conference, with one of the most demanding schedules in the country. Auburn now travels to one of its biggest rivals in Georgia and is currently more than a four-touchdown underdog to the Bulldogs. Crazier things have happened, but there doesn’t appear to be a pathway to Auburn winning this game, which means that our team on the Plains will be looking for a new head coach sooner rather than later.

We’re not advocating for Harsin to lose his job. By all accounts, he appears to be a great guy and undoubtedly knows football, or he wouldn’t have had the success he had previously. However, this isn’t a popularity contest. Changes must be made if Auburn is going to insert itself back into the conversations as one of the top teams in the conference.

One area where Auburn must find immediate improvement is on the recruiting trail. Auburn currently sits at 56th in the nation and 13th in the conference. For his many faults, former head coach Gus Malzahn always found a way to position Auburn in the top 10-15 on the recruiting trail. Well, almost always. In his final years, he didn’t do much to leave Harsin with the caliber of prospects needed to compete in the SEC, especially on the offensive line. But Gus never let it get like this. Now we’re not only facing ineptitude on the sidelines but also falling behind as it relates to talent. Like oil and vinegar, poor coaching and lesser talent do not mix, especially if you’re fighting for your job.

If the Tigers travel to Athens Saturday and do what we all think they will do, it will surely end the Harsin tenure. If so, we wish him and his family well.

A list of candidates is floating around the Twittersphere on who should be the next hire. Names like Hugh Freeze, Lane Kiffin, Mark Stoops, and Deion Sanders should get serious consideration, but whoever the next coach is must have a passion for recruiting at a high level and be able to assemble a staff that can both recruit and develop. If not, Auburn may find itself in this same position for years to come.

As always, War Eagle!