5 assistants who might be good fits on Bryan Harsin’s Auburn football coaching staff

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser

Bryan Harsin said his phone began blowing up with texts and calls from coaches around the industry almost as soon as he was hired to lead Auburn’s program on Dec. 22.

The former Boise State coach said he has experienced that before – he’s now been named a head coach three times in his career – but “not like this.”

“There is so much interest, so much excitement, so many people that want to be a part of this program,” Harsin said.

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

He’s kept their names close to the vest, though. Outside of some reported administrative moves, there hasn’t been much early information about who he might retain from Auburn’s 2020 coaching staff or add from outside the program in 2021. Harsin’s father works on cars, and one thing he always anyone who got impatient was, “Do you want it done right, or do you want it right now?”

From pool to Plains:How Bryan Harsin became Auburn's head coach

It appears Harsin is heeding that wisdom. So, while we wait for news, let’s take a look at five coaches who might fit the criteria he’s looking for an assistant:

“It's critically important that we get coaches in here that understand – like I feel right now – what Auburn really stands for,” Harsin said. “And that they're gonna be able to go into those rooms with those players, because every one of those coaches will be leading those units. And they have to walk in there with the same type of conviction for our program."

South Carolina coach Will Muschamp coaches against Auburn on Saturday October 17, 2020.

Will Muschamp — former South Carolina coach

Muschamp’s second tenure as an SEC head coach came to an unceremonious end at South Carolina in November – he went just 28-30 over four-and-a-half seasons – but he’ll probably have his pick of opportunities to be a Power 5 defensive coordinator. His experience in the conference could be a significant help for Harsin if he’s at all interested in returning for a fourth stint at the school where he began his coaching career in 1995. A lot of the players who played key roles in Auburn’s defensive success under Kevin Steele committed or signed during his one-year stint as defensive coordinator, including Marlon Davidson, Deshaun Davis, Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Javaris Davis, Jeff Holland, Darrell Williams and Nick Coe.

Arizona State University head football coach Herm Edwards speaks with newly hired offensive coordinator Zak Hill during practice at the Verde Dickey Dome on campus in Tempe, Tuesday, December 17, 2019.

Zak Hill — Arizona State offensive coordinator

Hill was Harsin’s offensive coordinator for four seasons at Boise State, from 2016-19, so he knows the system. The Broncos ranked top-40 nationally in scoring offense, produced a 1,000-rusher every year of that stretch and had top-20 passing attacks twice, so he knows success, too. Hill left Boise State for Arizona State after the 2019 season and helped the Sun Devils leap from 24.8 points per game (96th nationally) to 40.3 (12th). He’s spent his entire career out west, but the allure of the SEC might be hard to pass up if Harsin reached out.

Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee at the Dawg walk before the start of a game between Georgia and South Carolina in Athens on Oct. 12, 2019.

Dell McGee — Georgia running backs coach

With Harsin coming to Auburn from well outside the SEC footprint, he’ll need to surround himself with coaches who understand the recruiting territory. Few know it better than McGee, a Georgia native and Auburn football letterman who has been a key part of Kirby Smart’s staff since 2016. Among the recruits he’s credited with signing are quarterback Justin Fields, running backs D’Andre Swift and Zamir White and offensive tackle Broderick Jones, all of whom were five-stars. Maybe Harsin can convince him to return to his alma mater, where he served as an analyst in 2013.

Washington offensive line coach Scott Huff coaches against Penn State in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 30, 2017, in Glendale, Arizona.

Scott Huff — Washington offensive line coach

Harsin faces no greater task as Auburn’s coach than rebuilding an offensive line that has fallen off deeply from a talent standpoint. Perhaps he’ll turn to an old colleague in Huff, who coached Boise State’s offensive line during Harsin’s first three seasons as head coach there. Huff has been at Washington since 2017, where he has coached five first-team All-Pac-12 offensive linemen. The Huskies allowed just one sack in four games in 2020. Huff is also listed as the primary recruiter on seven four-star offensive linemen who have signed with the Huskies over the past four recruiting cycles.

Auburn linebackers coach Travis Williams (left) coaches linebacker Montavious Atkinson during practice.

Travis Williams — Auburn linebackers coach

If Harsin is looking to retain any of Auburn’s assistants, it would make sense to start with Williams, a beloved former player who has built the linebacking corps up from question mark to consistent strength over his five seasons as a full-time staff member. He has also been a top-notch recruiter during that stretch – he’s listed as the primary on linebackers Owen Pappoe and Zakoby McClain, as well as defenders including safety Smoke Monday and defensive lineman Colby Wooden.

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.