New Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin made his debut at SEC Media Days last week, taking to the podium on the final day and emphasizing the importance of establishing a new mentality in the Tigers.
“When you come into the facility, you have 250 people at a place like this, and we're all charging towards one goal," he said. "We want to win championships. We want to get better every single day.”
With Harsin’s regime just underway, linebacker Owen Pappoe was one of the first players to greet Harsin after he arrived from Boise State.
“Just a respect thing, man," Pappoe said. "He's going to be our new head coach. I wanted to go over there and personally meet him myself and let him know who I am. Me and Harsin, we've got a lot of respect for each other. Outside football, he's a really good man, has a lot of knowledge.”
The junior linebacker recorded the second-most tackles in 2020 with 93. Pappoe also mentioned that he tried to get the western-rooted coach to understand the Iron Bowl but Harsin stopped him in his tracks.
“I actually tried to talk to him but he actually stopped me," Pappoe said. "He said, 'Look, man, we're going to take things one at a time.' Focus on going 1-0 every week, and when we get there, we're going to deal with it.”
Along with Harsin comes in new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Bobo's offense means there are new formations, checks and schemes that third-year quarterback Bo Nix will need to pick up on. At Media Days, Nix commented on what the transition from Malzahn’s spread-only offense to Bobo’s multiple offense has been like.
“(Going under center) provided a different vantage point, different way of seeing things," Nix said. "I felt like it literally got me closer to the ball, so I was closer to the defense. I can keep my eyes up the whole time.”
The defense has a new ringleader as well in defensive coordinator Derek Mason. Mason operates from a three-four base, with three defensive linemen and four linebackers. For Pappoe, the transition has been seamless for the team.
“Even with the three-four stuff, as far as coverage goes, just a lot of similarities between his defense and Mason's defense and Steele's defense,” said Pappoe.
Nix has been under fire in his time at Auburn with fans not being afraid to voice their opinion when the quarterback doesn't deliver the results they want. However, Nix emphasized that he has learned to ignore the noise and focus on himself.
“I've gotten closer to (Jesus) throughout my college experience because, as a freshman, when you're young, you're 19 years old, you have 40-year-old men talking bad about you, it's a different perspective, and it's one that you have to look back and realize that the world is bigger than football and so much is going to happen outside of it.”
With Harsin coming in from a successful run at Boise State, he plans to improve Nix and company through the same blueprint that worked on the blue turf of Idaho.
“So your personal best every single day, that's the expectation," said Harsin.
"We have a plan for you and a blueprint that we shared with our guys. Then discipline, toughness, and conviction every single day are the things that we've talked about in our program.”
Time will tell if Harsin’s blueprint will be able to elevate Auburn to a consistent championship contending program. Until then, Harsin will spend the next five weeks getting the new-look Tigers ready to make their debut Jordan-Hare Stadium.