Auburn’s Harsin opens spring after offseason uncertainty

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said he wasn’t bitter about a school investigation that apparently put his job at risk.

Harsin has now focused on finding a starting quarterback and stopping a five-game skid. But the memories linger, of course.

“A lot has happened,” Harsin said Monday after the Tigers’ first spring training. “I don’t really see the point at this stage of looking in the rear view mirror. I’m a guy who wants to move forward, who wants to improve, who wants to keep moving forward. Now this is how I operate.

“There are other people involved. There are other families involved. I’m not saying they have to work like me.

The investigation began with Chairman Jay Gogue telling administrators his office was “trying to separate fact from fiction” surrounding the polarizing coach. The program had lost 18 players and five assistant coaches after Harsin’s 6-7 first season, including three coordinators.

A former player said Harsin treated them “like dogs”, although others came to his defense.

It ended with Gogue calling out “wild speculation” and misinformation in the “feeding frenzy” surrounding Harsin, whose contract runs until the 2026 season. He did not elaborate on the nature of that speculation.

Now Harsin is trying to move forward and overcome any lingering uncertainty among players, fans and rookies. He says it has to be a team effort, not just between players, stressing that “it’s not Auburn versus Auburn.”

“If we’re all going in the same direction, people will want to be part of it,” he said. “If we don’t go in the same direction, people won’t want to be part of it.”

Harsin also knows some opposing coaches will use this offseason turmoil against Auburn on the recruiting trail.

“And there are a lot of programs and people who have no problem doing that,” he said. “I don’t feel like that. I really do not know. There are a lot of people who don’t. We fought it and we will fight it every day.

Harsin hired Eric Kiesau as the third offensive coordinator in about 14 months. With the offseason troubles seemingly behind them, their most high-profile task this spring is picking from a wide array of quarterback candidates.

Three-year-old starter Bo Nix left for Oregon, and LSU transfer TJ Finley took his place after Nix’s season-ending injury. Auburn brought in former Texas A&M starter Zach Calzada and Oregon transfer Robby Ashford to join Finley, redshirt rookie Dematrius Davis and signee Holden Geriner in the competition.

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