As speculation mounted regarding his future as Auburn’s head football coach, Bryan Harsin treated Monday like the beginning of any other bye week.
Harsin made stops Monday in Birmingham and Mobile, both to visit with key recruits and for a pair of speaking engagements. He spoke at the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club in the morning (obviously) and then addressed the 1st & 10 Club in Mobile for dinner.
At all stops, Harsin’s message was the same: he’s going to do his best as Auburn’s head coach as long as he has the job. Rumors that he might be fired Sunday following a 48-34 loss to Ole Miss that dropped the Tigers to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the SEC obviously did not come to pass.
“That’s one thing I’ve learned over time of just coaching — you focus on the task at hand,” Harsin said prior to his Mobile appearance. “You focus on what’s right in front of you. I’ve had years I’ve been undefeated and people think you’re the worst, you’re not winning by enough and you really can’t control any of those things. You can control how you perform every day. And to me that’s the best model that I’ve been taught is really, your daily performance.
“… If you really start looking at the things that matter, you try to focus on that. It’s really a day-to-day thing. And to me that’s just something over time I’ve been able to adopt. It’s really helped me and it’s something that I’ve preached to our players and coaches: all you can do is control the things that are right in front of you. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. … We’re going to take advantage of being here and focus on making this the best we can possibly be for us, and take advantage of our time that we have here in Mobile and all over the state of Alabama.”
Harsin was a late substitute at the Mobile stop for associate head coach Zac Etheridge, who was the planned speaker to the 1st & 10 Club as recently as Friday morning. But early that afternoon, club officials announced Harsin would appear at Moe’s Original BBQ in downtown Mobile instead of Etheridge.
Harsin said the scheduling change was simply so that he would have another chance to speak directly to Auburn’s fan base. And since he was going to be in town recruiting anyway, it was an easy enough switch to make.
“Coach Etheridge is phenomenal and he’s a great ambassador for our program and all that,” Harsin said. “But we don’t practice till (Tuesday). We have a Tuesday and a Wednesday practice and then guys are going to have a chance to have Thursday, Friday and Saturday off. We’ll come back on Sunday. So for me to take advantage of this and get out to as many places as I can, that was really the idea behind having a chance to come here and speak at this and be a part of it and take advantage of the time.”
Auburn’s 2023 recruiting class has been ranked near the bottom of the SEC, though the Tigers did pick up a little momentum with the addition of four-star Florida high school offensive lineman Clay Wedin, who committed on Friday. Three Auburn commitments — Montgomery Catholic running back Jeremiah Cobb, Auburn High offensive lineman Bradyn Joiner and Loachapoka defensive back JC Hart — were named Monday to the Alabama team for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, which takes place Dec. 10 in Mobile.
Harsin went to three Mobile-area high schools on Monday, making stops at Mobile Christian, Saraland and Vigor. He said the in-person visits were about building trust with potential recruits.
“Those guys, they’re focusing on their development,” Harsin said. “They’re focused on their season. They’ve got a lot of other things that they have to worry about and they listen to our coaches when they’re talking to them. I think that’s the biggest thing. They trust our coaches. They have relationships with them. They all see what we’re doing because they get a chance to talk quite a bit with our staff. So they know where we are, what we struggle with, things we’ve done well, how they fit.
“And at the end of the day, I think every player knows, ‘Look, I want to go where I fit. I want to go to a place that I feel like is going to really be beneficial for me and that I want to be a part of for a lot of years. And you want to have guys that are confident know they can come in and make a difference too. … And we’re on a lot of really good players that can do that.”
Auburn next plays Oct. 29 at home against Arkansas, a game that it was announced Monday will kick off at 11 a.m. on SEC Network.