Auburn football hires Boise State's Bryan Harsin as next head coach
The search seemed to start inside the building, traveled as far west as Oregon, extended tentacles to Tuscaloosa and Clemson, made pit stops in Louisiana and Birmingham, and might have even placed a phone call to a Lynchburg, Virginia, area code.
But, in the end, Auburn's decision led it to Boise, Idaho.
"We are thrilled to welcome Coach Harsin to the Auburn family," Greene said in a school release. "He's a proven winner whose record speaks for itself. Coach Harsin impressed me with his detailed plan to lead Auburn to consistently compete for championships in the Southeastern Conference."
Contract details were not released.
Harsin, 44, replaced Gus Malzahn as Arkansas State's coach in 2013. Now, he will replace him at Auburn after he was fired after eight consecutive winning seasons on Dec. 13.
But that connection, as well as an affinity for running trick plays, are about the only things the two coaches have in common. Whereas as Malzahn made the leap to the college ranks after a long and successful career coaching Arkansas high school football, Harsin started his coaching career as the running backs and wide receivers coach at Eastern Oregon in 2000.
Harsin spent only one season in Jonesboro – he led the Red Wolves to a 7-5 record and the Sun Belt Championship – before returning to Boise, which is his hometown, where he lettered three years at quarterback from 1995-99 and where he spent 10 seasons as an assistant from 2001-10.
Since 2014, he's led the Broncos to a 69-19 overall record, seven consecutive winning seasons, six division titles and three Mountain West Conference championships. Boise State never finished worse than second in the conference during his tenure.
"I'm incredibly excited and humbled for the opportunity to be at a place like Auburn University," Harsin said. "I knew it would take a special opportunity to get me out of Boise and Auburn is exactly that, the chance to compete at the highest level for one of the greatest programs in college football.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the coaches and players in the Southeastern Conference, but am ready to help build a foundation at Auburn where we can consistently compete for championships. I want our program to make Auburn proud both on and off the field with consistent excellence."
Harsin has no SEC experience and has spent only two years at a Power 5 program during his career, serving as the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas from 2011-12. He'll be the first coach hired to lead Auburn with no previous experience in the state of Alabama or the SEC since Earl Brown in 1948.
But Harsin has worked under some incredibly successful coaches, including Mack Brown with the Longhorns and longtime Washington coach Chris Petersen when he was at Boise State.
He was the offensive coordinator during the 2006 season when running back Ian Johnson rushed for 1,713 yards and the Broncos upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl with help from some memorable trick plays, as well as the first three seasons of Kellen Moore's standout career at quarterback. He passed for at least 3,400 yards and 25 touchdowns in each.
Harsin was the 68th-highest paid coach in the country at $1.85 million this season. His buyout for leaving Boise State for another job is just $250,000.
"We started the search with two goals. We want a coach who will lead our team to consistently compete at the highest levels and to make Auburn proud on and off the field. We found both in Coach Harsin," university president Jay Gogue said.
"Our search was diligent and thoughtful, and it is unfortunate that so much misinformation was spread in recent days about the process. I appreciate the leadership of Athletics Director Allen Greene and the hard work of members of our search advisory group. Welcome, Coach Harsin, to the Auburn family."