On Christmas Eve, 10 days after Gus Malzahn was relieved of his head coaching duties, Auburn University officially introduced Bryan Harsin as the new head coach of Auburn Tiger football.
“I’m excited to be your head coach at Auburn University and I can’t wait to get to work,” said Harsin in his introductory press conference.
Harsin hails from Boise State, his alma mater, where he amassed a 69-19 record and Fiesta, Poinsettia, and Las Vegas Bowl wins in seven seasons. Harsin previously served one season in 2013 as head coach at Arkansas State, which went 7-5 that year. He spent a two-season stint as co-offensive coordinator at Texas after serving as the offensive coordinator at Boise State under coach Chris Petersen.
"I knew it would take a special opportunity to get me out of Boise and Auburn is exactly that, the chance to compete at the highest level for one of the greatest programs in college football," said Harsin in a statement released shortly after his hiring was announced.
Harsin remarked that Auburn was the only team that could have pulled him away from his alma mater, and that he is excited for the future on the Plains.
“I understand the expectations," he said. "I understand what it takes to win championships. The areas we need to be better, we’ll discover that as we go.”
Harsin began his coaching career at Eastern Oregon in 2000 where he coached running backs and quarterbacks. In 2001, Harsin returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant before being promoted to tight ends coach from 2002-2005. In 2006, Harsin was promoted to offensive coordinator, a position he served through the 2010 season as the Broncos boasted a 61-5 record and undefeated seasons during that stretch. Harsin moved on to Texas from 2011-2012 where he was the co-offensive coordinator and primary play caller before he would get his first opportunity to be a head ball coach.
In 2013, Harsin was hired as the head coach of Arkansas State, replacing Gus Malzahn, who had left for the Auburn job. Harsin, like Malzahn and Freeze before him, left after just one season, amassing a 7-5 record, a share in the Sun Belt Conference Championship, and a GoDaddy.com bowl appearance.
Harsin left Arkansas State to return to his alma mater, this time as the head coach. At Boise State, Harsin led five of his seven teams to 10-win seasons as well as three outright conference championships, and at least tied for first in all but one year.
Harsin plans to allow interim head coach Kevin Steele to lead the Tigers in the Citrus Bowl on Friday, and whatever staff changes Harsin plans to make will also be made after the game.
“Somebody asked me how do you play in championship games? Well, you win every game leading into it,” said Harsin. “When people and our fans watch Auburn play, I want them to be proud of what’s on that field, and I want them to be proud that I’m the head coach of Auburn University.”
Auburn Athletic Director Allen Greene said he was thrilled to welcome Harsin to the Plains.
"He's a proven winner whose record speaks for itself. Coach Harsin impressed me with his detailed plan to lead Auburn to consistently compete for championships in the Southeastern Conference. I'm grateful to Gen. Burgess, Quentin Riggins and each member of our advisory committee for their commitment to Auburn during this process," he said.
Auburn will take on Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl January 1 at 12 p.m. CT on ABC.