Auburn football's 2020 assistant coaches face uncertain futures after bowl game

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser

Kevin Steele wore a lot of hats in December. He started out as the defensive coordinator, became the interim head coach when Gus Malzahn was fired, was a candidate for the permanent job before Bryan Harsin was hired, and was the acting head coach for the Citrus Bowl.

But he doesn't know what his role will be beyond Friday's 35-19 loss to Northwestern.

"Have I thought about my future since the last second ticked off? No," Steele said. "That’s not been addressed. That will be something that Coach Harsin and the administration will have their decisions and off that we’ll have our decisions."

Auburn's new head coach stayed out of the way while Steele and the rest Malzahn's assistants handled preparations for Northwestern. But once the 2020 season officially ends, Harsin will truly begin the process of putting his own staff together.

"There is no shortage of interest from coaches that want to be part of this Auburn program," Harsin said during his introductory press conference. "Who are going to be the best fits in this program? Who are going to be the men that are going to come in here and lead these players?"

And will any of them be assistants retained from the Tigers' 2020 coaching staff? Only Harsin can answer that question.

For now, let's take a look at those 10 coaches, their contract situations and what they've brought to Auburn during their tenures:

Worth noting: All of Auburn's coaching contracts contain a "mutual termination" clause, which stipulates that they may be terminated at any time upon mutual, written agreement from both parties. No money would be owed or exchanged if mutual termination occurs.

All buyout figures are mitigated by future employment.

Chad Morris — offensive coordinator

  • At Auburn since: 2020
  • 2020 salary: $735,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2023
  • Buyout: $1.47 million. If he leaves for another job on his own, he would owe Auburn the same amount (unless he becomes a head coach).
  • What he's brought: The offense did improve in some areas this season, specifically on the ground, but the unit's performance was inconsistent and quarterback Bo Nix did not take the next step many expected.

Kevin Steele — defensive coordinator

  • At Auburn since: 2016
  • 2020 salary: $2.5 million
  • Contract expires: Jan. 1, 2023
  • Buyout: $5 million). If he leaves for another job on his own, he would owe Auburn $1 million (unless he becomes a head coach). He would not owe any money if he retires.
  • What he's brought: Auburn had a top-20 scoring defense every season from 2016-19 and ranked fourth in the SEC this year.

Larry Porter — TE/HB, special teams coordinator

  • At Auburn since: 2017
  • 2020 salary: $500,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2021
  • Buyout: ~$42,000
  • What he's brought: Porter was a Broyles Award nominee for his work with Auburn's special teams this season.

Cadillac Williams — running backs

  • At Auburn since: 2019
  • 2020 salary: $325,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2021
  • Buyout: ~$27,000
  • What he's brought: The former Tigers star signed Tank Bigsby and had another top running back – four-star Armoni Goodwin – committed before he flipped to LSU
Auburn running backs coach Cadillac Williams coaches D.J. Williams (3) during practice.

Kodi Burns — wide receivers

  • At Auburn since: 2016
  • 2020 salary: $425,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2022
  • Buyout: $425,000
  • What he's brought: Helped the Tigers sign nine four-star wide receivers since 2017, including Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz.

Jack Bicknell Jr. — offensive line

  • At Auburn since: 2020
  • 2020 salary: $500,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2022
  • Buyout: $500,000
  • What he's brought: Auburn's offensive line showed significant improvement in his first season before injuries derailed the unit.

Rodney Garner — defensive line

  • At Auburn since: 2013
  • 2020 salary: $650,000
  • Contract expires: June 30, 2021
  • Buyout: $325,000
  • What he's brought: A long line of top recruits who have gone on to play in the NFL, including Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams, Dontavius Russell, Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson.
Auburn coaches, from left, Kodi Burns, Rodney Garner and Carnell Williams cheer after landing a recruit on National Signing Day Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Auburn, Ala.

Al Pogue — outside linebackers

  • At Auburn since: 2020
  • 2020 salary: $375,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2022
  • Buyout: $375,000
  • What he's brought: Deep recruiting ties in the state from his time at Troy and as a high school head coach in Montgomery.

Travis Williams — linebackers

  • At Auburn since: 2016
  • 2020 salary: $450,000
  • Contract expires: Jan. 31, 2021
  • Buyout: $37,500
  • What he's brought: The former player and fan favorite turned linebacker from weakness into consistent strength thanks to players such as Tre' Williams, Deshaun Davis, K.J. Britt, Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain.

Wesley McGriff — defensive backs

  • At Auburn since: 2019
  • 2020 salary: $300,000
  • Contract expires: Unknown – contract had not been executed as of Dec. 7
  • Buyout: N/A
  • What he's brought: Overseen some strong secondaries featuring players such as Noah Igbinoghene, Daniel Thomas, Jeremiah Dinson, Jamien Sherwood and Roger McCreary.

Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by email, click here.