The final day of SEC Media Days kicked off on Thursday morning with Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin. He did not waste any time discussing what many were wanting to ask him about. What happened in February? After remembering the great Auburn man in Buddy Davidson, he spoke about the tumultuous time during the winter. “I know some of you out there looking at me didn’t expect me to be here”, Harsin stated when discussing attending his second media days. He used his opening statement to address the topic and told the media it would be the last time he would talk about it. Harsin told them, there are interviews on it so they can just google it. Here are some highlights of the SEC Media Days session with Harsin talking about the Auburn Tigers.
Auburn SEC Media Days Review
“It Didn’t Work”
As stated above, Harsin used his opening remarks to mostly address the situation that occurred back in February that put his job status in jeopardy. “There was an inquiry, it was uncomfortable, it was unfounded”, said Harsin. He went on to discuss how it was an opportunity for people to personally attack him, his family, and the Auburn football program. As the coach stated, “It didn’t work”. Auburn investigated Harsin after several players and coaches left the program following a disappointed 2021 season. The Tigers started the year with promise at 6-2 but dropped the final five games to finish 6-7.
It became a social media nightmare when current and former players made their thoughts public either defending Harsin or criticizing him. At the time, there seemed to be a lot of division surrounding the Auburn program. On Thursday, according to Harsin that no longer seemed to be the case. He went on to talk about how it had a silver lining. That is that it gave players and coaches leadership opportunities to step up. He said our focus is moving forward, and it united the football team.
There is a lot of changeover on the coaching staff after the conclusion of the season. One of the more intriguing hires is new wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard. If anything, he brings a lot of experience he can share with the current Auburn receivers. A position that has several questions surrounding it. Harsin talked about the immediate impact he has made on the group. That he has a presence about him. “He knows he knows what he is talking about,” said Harsin. “He said he loved them and was there to help them get better,” he also added.
Hilliard is a veteran not only of the SEC but also of the National Football League. He won a national championship in 1996 and was First-Team All-SEC as a member of the Florida Gators. After his time in Gainesville, he played in the NFL from 1997-2008 for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has been in the coaching profession since 2009, but this will be his first time coaching the college ranks. Those experiences will be key in the development of a position group that took some criticism last season. Leading receiver Kobe Hudson is gone, and players like Shedrick Jackson and Ja’Varrious Johnson will need to step up. Hilliard can guide them through. Harsin went on to say, “he’s been there, he’s coached it.”
Going into SEC Media Days and the season many are wondering who the starting quarterback for Auburn will be. The starter from the previous three seasons, Bo Nix, is now in Oregon. The preseason favorite would have to be Texas A&M transfer, Zach Calzada. When asked about the newcomer, Harsin was very complimentary. “Zach has been awesome, he has really been awesome,” he stated. Harsin discussed Calzada’s transition into his second year, and what he has learned. He said he has learned what it takes to be successful at this level playing that position. He shows attention to detail according to the coach.
Of course, there is a competition coming to decide who that quarterback will be. Both T.J. Finley and Robby Ashford are looking to be the main signal caller and have a leg up so far. Calzada was unable to do a lot in the spring due to a shoulder injury. Ashford used his absence to his advantage and was the spring game MVP. Finley has the advantage of ending the season as the Auburn quarterback after Nix went down with an injury. No worries on Calzada’s shoulder according to Harsin. “He will be full-go,” he said. Harsin stated that all the quarterbacks bring something to the table, and they are pushing themselves. He also talked about how when they get an opportunity, they need to make it count, and support each other.
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