The Auburn Tigers are in the middle of a ridiculous mess with head coach Bryan Harsin.

Auburn apparently wants to move on from Harsin — without paying his buyout. Meanwhile, Harsin seems more than open to leaving, but he’s not going anywhere without his buyout.

So now it’s a standoff.

I don’t know how it will be eventually be resolved, but I don’t think it ends with Harsin coaching the Tigers in 2022.

While the whole situation is bizarre, it shouldn’t catch anyone off guard. Harsin was a bad fit at Auburn from the start. He should’ve never been the hire (the Tigers should’ve just kept Gus Malzahn for the time being).

But Auburn’s boosters and athletic department couldn’t get on the same page. In-fighting led to a panicked hire — which is going about as terribly as it could.

Auburn should’ve known what they were getting into with Harsin. But the program obviously didn’t vet him very well.

Because all of the information pointing toward Harsin being the wrong answer to lead Auburn’s football program is out there.

All Auburn had to do was make a couple of phone calls and they would’ve learned that Arkansas State was going to fire Harsin after the 2013 season before he left for Boise State, his alma mater.

One of the major reasons Harsin was going to be fired was because he skipped a press conference and the Arkansas State athletic director had to go to his house to get him.


They had their fill of Harsin at Arkansas State in less than a year and a source said he was there when athletics director Terry Mohajir told him he was out.

“Oh, (Harsin) was going to be fired,” the source said. “I was standing right there when Terry told him after he had to go get him for a press conference.

At the end of a tumultuous season, Harsin had blown off a press conference after he had ditched a postgame radio appearance and Mohajir had to go get him at his house.

It was not a pleasant conversation, according to some folks who were there.

ASU avoided the whole firing issue when Boise State picked Harsin, who had been Chris Petersen’s offensive coordinator before going to Jonesboro.

Additionally, it was well-known among media members at Arkansas State that Harsin wasn’t the most pleasant man to be around.

From Arkansas Online:

We had dinner at a nice restaurant with two other people.

In that one meeting he came across as arrogant, indifferent and not going to be there long. The impression was he was too good for Jonesboro and Arkansas.

Auburn obviously didn’t talk to anyone at Arkansas State (even though that phone line should’ve been open, considering Malzahn was hired away from Arkansas State in late 2012).

This sounds an awful lot like the Tennessee Vols and their vetting process for former head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

There were a litany of negative stories about Pruitt from his time at Georgia. He was confrontational and divisive. He undermined the authority of head coach Mark Richt. He may have had physical confrontations with other coaches.

From Dawg Nation:

“A lot of people at Georgia saw how Pruitt handled certain situations,” said Mason, now a sports-talk radio host from noon to 3 p.m. daily on Atlanta Sports X (106.3-FM). “He had blow-ups and antics. Those are well-documented. Those happened. … I definitely agree with what (Murray and Pollack) said about being disrespectful.”

Mason confirmed that Pruitt had confrontations with Richt, fellow assistants and several members of the support staff while in Athens.

Tennessee could’ve called around and done a better job of vetting Pruitt. They likely wouldn’t be dealing with an NCAA investigation if they had.

Maybe Tennessee and Auburn will serve as cautionary tales to the rest of college football. Even when you think you know a coach, call around. Look for the bad stories — there will always be a couple (and if there aren’t, you’re getting hoodwinked) — and decide if it’s something you can live with.

Skipping press conferences and berating co-workers usually isn’t a good sign. Auburn and Tennessee both should have known better.

Featured image via USA TODAY Sports