Bryan Harsin never seemed like a good fit at Auburn, and it also seemed like Auburn never wanted him in the first place. Now that he’s gone, let’s look at some of the best candidates for the job.
Deion Sanders, (Jackson State Head Coach): No one has done more to re-energize the HBCU footprint in recent years than Deion Sanders. He’s in his third year as the head coach and all he’s done is work magic. In his second year, he led Jackson State to a school-record 11 wins, and so far, Jackson State is undefeated on the year too. The most notable thing he’s done may be off the field when he convinced last year’s #1 recruit, Travis Hunter, to choose Jackson State over Florida State. Auburn needs someone that is dedicated, hard-working, and it would help that he may be a bigger name in football than even Nick Saban. Deion should be at the top of Auburn’s list for football coaches.
Hugh Freeze, (Liberty Head Coach): Freeze is another coach that’s had a roller coaster of a career. He got a great start as a head coach at Arkansas State where he won 10 games in his only season there, and then got hired at Ole Miss. In his last two years at Ole Miss, he led the Rebels to two straight nine-win seasons, before being fired amidst a personal scandal. Liberty then hired Freeze and he’s continued to do nothing but win in his time there. They won 10 games in 2020, and are currently 7-1 and ranked in the Top 25 as they get set to travel to Arkansas this weekend.
One thing worth noting: Freeze recently signed an extension at Liberty that will pay him $5 million a year. The buyout isn't big enough to keep Freeze from Auburn if they want him - but his salary won't be cheap.
Lane Kiffin, (Ole Miss Head Coach): This name is a little surprising, but according to a few reports and rumors Auburn may have a chance here despite it looking like a longshot. Kiffin has had a roller coaster of a career in football coaching. Starting with his first few head coaching gigs, almost nothing went right. He flamed out at the Raiders, Tennessee, and USC, but then he joined Alabama’s coaching staff as the offensive coordinator and was seemingly humbled when he made his way there, and then he became a hot commodity in coaching again. Florida Atlantic took the plunge on Kiffin, and then Ole Miss came calling and it’s been nothing but good things for his career. He led Ole Miss to a Sugar Bowl berth last year and has the Rebels undefeated so far this year. If Auburn has a chance here, Kiffin needs to get a long hard look. He seems to be very different from where was and can bring a highly entertaining brand of football to Auburn.
Jamey Chadwell, (Coastal Carolina Head Coach): Chadwell has been at Coastal since 2017, and since he’s been named head coach all the Chanticleers have done is win football games. The last two years they’ve won 11 games and are currently undefeated on the year so far this year. They run a very different type of offense where they give a defense multiple looks that make it very difficult to prepare for the Chanticleers. He was originally named interim head coach here but was signed as the new head coach in 2019 and hasn’t looked back. He’s been a coach that’s had his name floated around for a few different job openings that last two seasons, so maybe now is the time for him to move on. He’s someone that could easily hit the ground running at Auburn and is an underrated option that needs to get some consideration here.
Matt Rhule, (Former Carolina Panthers Head Coach): Matt Rhule being in the NFL never felt like a good fit. He’s been a program builder in college starting at Temple where he won 10 games in back-to-back years before heading over to Baylor. He brought Baylor out of the depths of scandal from the Art Briles era and lead them to a Sugar Bowl berth in just his third year. Rhule will have his pick of the litter with every college job that’s open. He also might want to step back for a year just because his buyout at Carolina was insanely huge. Regardless, it’s just a matter of time until Rhule comes back to the college football world, and maybe Auburn is that job. He’s in this mix, there just might be questions of fit.
Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus