So, Bryan Harsin has a great run at Boise State and Brandon Marcello thinks that’s gonna translate beautifully to Auburn.
Bryan Harsin is never far from Boise. The Auburn coach is an ardent believer in carefully-crafted plans, hard work, accountability, and one-on-one instruction and mentorship wrapped in blanket of understanding and empathy.
He picked up those traits and molded his own coaching philosophy from his 25 years as a coach and player alongside Boise State greats Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins, Dirk Koetter, Justin Wilcox, Andy Avalos and others. It’s a blue-collar approach with a personal touch. Petersen calls it his “Built for Life” philosophy. Others have adapted it, but it was mostly tweaked, perfected and handed down by four head coaches from the same coaching tree over the last three decades at Boise State, a program that evolved from college football’s Cinderella into a powerhouse in the 2000s and 2010s.
I hate to rain on anyone’s parade (although I’ll make an exception for Auburn), but has Marcello bothered to look at how Harsin’s predecessors at Boise fared when the moved on to big boy football? I did and it’s not impressive.
- Dirk Koetter: 26-10 at BSU; 40-34 overall/21-28 conference at Arizona State
- Dan Hawkins: 53-11 at BSU; 19-39 overall/10-27 conference at Colorado
- Chris Petersen: 92-12 at BSU; 55-26 overall/34-20 conference at Washington
Petersen, who I really respect as a head coach, did a decent job, but let’s face it, overall, the three of them didn’t exactly set the world on fire. And all of that was in the relatively friendly confines of the Pac-12, which, while a step up from the Mountain West, ain’t exactly the SEC.
Like the Auburn Creed declares, it’s work — hard work — that remains a constant force in Harsin’s life.
On a late afternoon in May, Auburn’s athletics building is quiet but Harsin is busy studying in his office. His large desk is strewn with papers. A computer monitor with film of an Ole Miss game is frozen on the screen. Across the room is a board pinned with several pieces of important papers and pictures. One sheet on the board stands out: a recent interview with Petersen about his life as a coach and now a professor. The refreshingly honest and open interview about the challenges of being a leader is required reading for the staff at Auburn, which is composed of SEC veterans and a few assistants from Harsin’s time at Boise State.
This is the blueprint.
“We’re going to get families and players that are going to feel [Auburn],” Harsin said. “There will also be guys we bring into this program and people are going to go, ‘Where the hell this guy come from?’ This program, how we develop our players, this culture, and the people in the program are going to be what helps build the ability to sustain success.”
If Harsin thinks the key to success at his new gig is hard work, scouting and player development, I’ve got some bad news for him. Pretty much every SEC coach believes in the same formula. Welcome to the party, pal.