Our opinion: who will be the next Auburn football coach?

Published 9:12 am Friday, November 4, 2022

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Auburn University made headlines this week with the firing of head football coach Bryan Harsin.

Harsin became the second Tigers football coach dismissed over the last three seasons, joining Gus Malzahn, who’s now at Central Florida.

The task of hiring the next Tigers football coach will be up to newly-hired Athletic John Cohen, who left a similar position at Mississippi State for the job down on the Plains.

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We believe Cohen is the right person to make this decision. Cohen was a hard-nosed baseball coach at Mississippi State and brought a similar persona as AD, eventually leading him to Auburn.

Speculation on social media and “talking heads” have Hugh Freeze and Lane Kiffin, coaches at Liberty and Ole Miss respectively, as the top candidates, but there’s no telling who Cohen will offer the job to, or who will eventually accept it.

Who Auburn’s next head football coach will be is being discussed in coffee shops, at kitchen tables, and around water coolers throughout Alabama – and beyond its borders. It’s big news in a football-crazed state where you’re not only required to declare your religious affiliation, but also who you root for. College football on Saturday is just as important to most as a church on Sunday, so passions, and sometimes temperatures, run high in our two-party [team] state.

Former WBRC TV Sportscaster Herb Winches spoke at the Selma Quarterback Club last week and gave his opinion on the Auburn football dilemma.

“Bryan Harsin is a good, solid, guy, but he’s a fish out of the water,” Winches said. “Auburn’s problem is trying to keep up with the Joneses, that is the Sabans.”

We couldn’t agree more, but Auburn has always tried to keep up with Alabama, long before Saban arrived at the Capstone in 2007. It’s hard to deny that when it comes to football, Auburn has always been in Alabama’s shadow. The late Pat Dye, who coached Auburn from 1981 to 1992, once said “Auburn can win four national titles in a row, but they’ll always be in Alabama’s shadow.”

We have a healthy Auburn fan base in Dallas County, and Selma is the birthplace of former Auburn head coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan, who led the Tigers to the most wins by a head coach in program history, including an undefeated season and a national championship in 1957.

We’re optimistic Cohen will hire the right coach to lead Auburn, but based on recent history, that remains to be seen. We hope he does, because there’s nothing better for the rivalry when both teams are at their best, and it’s been a while.