Who will Auburn football hire as defensive line coach after Tracy Rocker's departure?

Josh Vitale
Montgomery Advertiser

Tracy Rocker's second stint as Auburn's defensive line coach lasted less than two weeks.

“He is gone,” new Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said in an interview with WNSP 105.5 in Mobile on Wednesday. “We are pursuing D-line coaches. Hopefully – there is no timetable – sooner rather than later."

Rocker was hired on Jan. 14. A program spokesman confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser on Wednesday that Rocker wouldn't be part of Harsin's staff.

Rocker is expected to join the Philadelphia Eagles and new coach Nick Sirianni, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. Rocker worked with Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon when both were on the Tennessee Titans staff from 2012-13.

The Eagles have not yet announced the hire of Rocker.

UPDATE:Nick Eason replaces Tracy Rocker as Auburn football defensive line coach

Rocker spent the 2019 season at Tennessee, was hired at South Carolina in February 2020 and returned to Auburn on Jan. 14. In the announcement, he said he had "great memories as a player and coach at Auburn and can't wait to create more in the future."

He has not spent more than three seasons in the same job since he coached the defensive line at Arkansas from 2003-07.

Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker during practice while at Tennessee.

His departure means that Harsin's first Auburn coaching staff is no longer complete. It was last Thursday when he hired Bert Watts to coach outside linebackers and coordinate special teams, but now, he needs a new defensive line coach.

It is a bit of a setback. Harsin took four weeks to build a staff of coaches "that wanted to be a part of Auburn football" and fit his vision for the program. Once they were all on board, he was going to move on to the next phase of his build, which was finishing up recruiting in the 2021 class, establishing a culture and installing offensive and defensive schemes.

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Rocker was a logical choice. He was a two-time All-American for the Tigers from 1985-88, winning SEC Player of the Year, the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award as a senior. He was the defensive line coach at his alma mater in 2009-10, a stretch that included the program's most recent national championship.

It's not clear who Harsin might target to replace Rocker, but one possibility could be Jimmy Brumbaugh, an Auburn alum who was hired as the co-defensive coordinator and line coach at Tennessee in 2020 but was fired after four games into the season. He also coached defensive line for four seasons at Kentucky from 2013-16.

Another is Brick Haley, who was let go from Missouri's staff after four seasons as the defensive line coach last week. The Gadsden native and former Alabama A&M linebacker was Kevin Steele's defensive coordinator at Baylor from 1999-2001 and has also coached defensive line for Mississippi State (2004-06), the Chicago Bears (2007-09), LSU (2009-14), Texas (2015-16).

Other names reportedly linked to the job the first time it was open were Vic So’oto (the defensive line coach at USC) and Tosh Lupoi (the Atlanta Falcons' defensive line coach in 2020).

Rodney Garner, who coached defensive line at Auburn under Gus Malzahn for eight seasons, is also still a free agent after not originally being retained as part of Harsin's staff.

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.