Selected quotes from Auburn AD John Cohen’s introductory press conference

Auburn’s new athletic director has officially made his debut.

The Tigers were treated to their new AD’s first press conference on Tuesday, and Cohen talked about a variety of challenges and experiences he’s set to inherit as the school’s new athletic director. He discussed his process in replacing fired head coach Bryan Harsin, how the NIL landscape has changed college football and what the transitional period has been like for him the recent days he has stepped up to take the job.

Here are a select few quotes from Cohen from his first appearance before the media as Auburn’s athletic director:

On hiring a new football coach

On the pressure of hiring a coach:

“I’m not a big pressure guy. I just see opportunity, and Auburn is the land of opportunity. I think we have a great opportunity here. And I think the future is really bright.”

On his process:

“It’s a very, very long process. In fact, I have 58 things on this piece of paper that we’ll go through as we go through this process of looking for a new head football coach. It all starts with culture. It starts with X’s and O’s and it starts with recruiting. Those three things have to be upfront but there’s a whole lot of other things that have to be answered before you get really deep into it. “

“I won’t talk about the process per se. It obviously dominates my time, which it should. The football head coaching position at Auburn University is a critical decision and we take it with the utmost seriousness. There will not be anything we don’t look at. Everything’s on the table every day. But I’m not going to go into dates and times and process and when the finish line is going to be. We’re going to get there when we get there and we’re going to make the right decision for this great institution.”

On using a search firm:

“We will use a search firm strictly for logistics purposes. Search firms will not give us names. They obviously will help in background checks, and they will help us with logistics. Every other part of the search will be our own.”

On characteristics he is looking for:

“You got a couple of hours? I’m going to use the ‘F’ word again. It’s about fit. There’s not an exact science. There’s analytics. There’s a little bit of gut feel. There’s a lot of factors I can read you off this list. A lot of this common sensical, but a lot of this is really important to me as I’ve been through the hiring process several times.”


On improving Auburn's facilities

“Yes, absolutely. And I’ve spent a lot of time early on listening. I think that’s one of the things about being a little more advanced in my career. You know 20 years ago, I would have done a lot less listening and a lot more telling or talking. I’m going to listen. I’m going to listen to coaches. I’m going to listen to administrators. I’m going to walk around these great facilities that we have and we’re going to do the very best we can to make them elite. We already have elite facilities here at Auburn University. But there’s always improvements. You’ve heard this expression no doubt about the arms race in the Southeastern Conference. We’re always going to have great facilities but that means we have to keep up and we have to keep competing in that space. So, we will always work on that.”

On his last couple of weeks

“It’s been emotional. Leaving your alma mater is difficult. The friends that Nelle and I had. The working relationships. There is a passion there. But this is Auburn. And I spent the first five minutes speaking to all of you of my why. Auburn is a national brand. Auburn is a powerful entity and Auburn is an incredible place. So, as you go through this process and you ask yourself, ‘Okay, am I being ridiculous here? The people at Mississippi State have been so great to you. It’s been such a wonderful experience. What are you doing?’ And then you look on the other side and say, ‘Auburn, wow.’ I feel like there’s been a whole lot of wow for me and I’ve felt that way about Auburn for a long time.”

On his approach to NIL

“When I became the Athletic Director at Mississippi State University, I would have never guessed that we would be where we are today in the landscape of Name Image and Likeness. But certainly, now that it has started, much like the space race in the 60s, we’ve got to be out front. We have to be aggressive and it’s the way of the world. So, we’re going to jump in with both feet. Certainly, an incredible foundation has been laid at Auburn University. Very proud of that and it makes this position even more appealing. It really speaks to the passion for Auburn University to see what’s already been done in that space. So, I’m excited about jumping in there. And you know, locking shields with all those people who are involved with the NIL process at Auburn.”

On learning the needs of all of Auburn's sports:

“I know I have a lot to learn. I’ve already reached out to Greg Williams, who has done an incredible job here. My goodness, the amount of national championships. Just following the last event that they had was kind of remarkable and eye-opening for me. I spent five years at the University of Kentucky so even though it’s a different type of horse, we are familiar with horses. I come from a swimming and diving family. My father actually swam almost every day of his professional life. My sisters were big into swimming, so I was dragged all over the southeast going to meets as a kid. I didn’t appreciate it then. I really appreciate it now. I went to swimming practice just the other day. And gymnastics. Just an incredible sport at Auburn. I can’t wait to go watch those kids perform. Those student-athletes have a remarkable reputation not only on this campus, but nationally as well. I’m just excited about those opportunities.”

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire