A timeline of Bryan Harsin's first 14 months at Auburn football, from his hire to being retained

Auburn announced Friday that it is retaining Bryan Harsin as football coach following an internal investigation into the program regarding Harsin's first season on the job.

Both Harsin and university president Jay Gogue released statements with the announcement.

"I believe that every challenge in life is an opportunity to grow and learn," Harsin said in his statement. "This is no different. Every day we’re not moving forward together is a step in the wrong direction. In order for us to take the Auburn program where we all want it to go we must, at all levels, commit to each other and this great university that we all love."

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"As an institution of higher education, Auburn will always take the action necessary to ensure the well-being of its students, faculty and staff," Gogue said in his statement. "Recently, individuals raised concerns to my administration about the football program. The nature of these concerns compelled a fact-finding review. To do nothing would have been an abdication of the university’s responsibilities."

How did Auburn and Harsin get to this point? A full timeline of Harsin's first 14 months at Auburn:


Dec. 13 — One day after Auburn finished its 2020 season at 6-4, the university announced that Gus Malzahn was fired as football coach. Malzahn had four years left on his deal, and would be due more than $21 million payment for his buyout.

Dec. 23 — Auburn announced the hiring of Boise State coach Bryan Harsin to the same position. Harsin is the first coach hired to lead Auburn with no previous experience in Alabama or the SEC since Earl Brown in 1948.

The coaching search concluded after a 10-day stretch heavy in rumors linking Auburn to then-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele and then-Oregon coach Mario Cristobal, among other candidates.

Dec. 24 — At his introductory news conference, Harsin explained why he wanted to become Auburn's coach.

"It's exactly the reason why you want to play for Auburn University and exactly why you want to come to a place like this, because it's going to be challenging, It's going to be hard." Harsin said. "It's going to be all those things you talk about, you read about, you see. That's not going to change. And that will not change week to week to week. So, you better be the ultimate competitor. You better have that mindset. And you better be a guy that embraces that and loves it. And I'm certainly excited about the challenge."


Jan. 1 — Auburn lost to Northwestern in the Citrus Bowl with Steele serving as acting head coach. Steele would not return to the program. The Tigers finished the 2020 season 6-5.

Jan. 7 — Auburn named SEC veteran assistant Mike Bobo as offensive coordinator and former Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason as defensive coordinator.

Feb. 3 — Harsin, on the job for about six weeks, and his staff signed seven players in the February signing period to boost Auburn's 2021 recruiting class inside the top 20 of the 247Sports rankings.

May 24 — LSU transfer quarterback TJ Finley commited to Auburn, giving the program an experienced option behind incumbent Bo Nix.

Sept. 4 — The Harsin era began with a 60-10 drubbing of Akron.

Sept. 25 — Finley, who replaced an ineffective Nix, orchestrated a final-drive comeback to beat Georgia State in an otherwise underwhelming performance for Auburn. Nix would start at LSU the next week.

Sept. 26 — Wide receivers coach Cornelius Williams was fired after four games. Williams joined the staff in January.

Oct. 2 — Auburn won 24-19 at LSU, the first win for the visiting Tigers in Baton Rouge since 1999.

Oct. 30 — The Tigers won 31-20 over Ole Miss, pushing them to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC. Three days later, Auburn was ranked No. 13 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings.

Nov. 13 — Auburn, coming off a loss at Texas A&M, gave up a 28-3 lead and lost at home to Mississippi State. Nix suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the second half.

Nov. 20 — The Tigers gave up a 14-0 lead and lost at South Carolina. Auburn managed three second-half points.

Nov. 27 — Against Alabama, Auburn gave up a 10-0 lead and a 97-yard touchdown drive in the final 1:35 to send the game to overtime. The Crimson Tide eventually won in four overtimes.

Nov. 29 — The school announced offensive coordinator Mike Bobo won't return as offensive coordinator in 2022.

Dec. 5 — Auburn was selected to play in the Birmingham Bowl against Houston.

Dec. 12 — Longtime quarterback Nix entered the transfer portal. Nix later announced he will spend his final collegiate season at Oregon. In all, 19 Auburn players entered the transfer portal.

Dec. 15 — Harsin's first full class began the early signing period in the top 15 in the 247Sports rankings.

Dec. 18 — Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Austin Davis was tabbed as the new Auburn offensive coordinator. "He's learned and been around some of the best in the business and has been on an upward trajectory since joining the coaching ranks," Harsin said in a school statement. "We can't wait to get him teamed up with the rest of our staff."

Dec. 28 — Auburn lost to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl. The Tigers finished the 2021 season at 6-7 and on a five-game losing streak.


Jan. 6 — Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada, who beat both Alabama and Auburn in 2021, announced he was transferring to Auburn.

Jan. 7 — Defensive line coach Nick Eason had seven linemen go into the transfer portal after the season, and he, too, left Auburn to take the same job at his alma mater, Clemson.

Jan. 26 — Derek Mason left after one season as defensive coordinator to take the same job at Oklahoma State. It is later reported by The Oklahoman that Mason took a $400,000 pay cut to go from the Plains to Stillwater.

Jan. 31 — Davis resigned as Auburn's offensive coordinator following 43 days on the job, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

Feb. 2 — Auburn did not sign a recruit during the February National Signing Day period. Their 2022 recruiting class is made up of 18 players, all of whom signed in December.

Feb. 4 — The Advertiser reports that Harsin created "divisive culture" inside the Auburn program that alienated some players. Meanwhile, over the week, current and former players either came to the defense of Harsin or were critical of the Auburn coach on social media.

Feb. 7 — Auburn released a statement indicating an internal investigation into Harsin's first 13 months on the job.

Feb. 9 — Harsin returned from vacation and met with university officials, according to multiple reports. Meanwhile, a new university policy recently was enacted requires employees to fully cooperate with university investigations.

Feb. 10 — Harsin joined the 13 other SEC head football coaches in Birmingham for a league meeting as his future was still publicly in the air.

Feb. 11 — After a nearly two-week saga filled with conjecture and a university internal investigation, Auburn announced that Bryan Harsin will be retained.

This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: A timeline of Bryan Harsin's first 14 months at Auburn football