Revisiting the Top Candidates for Auburn, Ranked:
The Auburn Tigers have finally done this week what we have known all season was coming by relieving Bryan Harsin of his duties as the head coach of the program. For the remainder of the season, former running back and more recently running backs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams will be the head coach, but the wheels are surely already in motion for finding Harsin’s replacement. Let’s revisit the top candidates for the Tigers now that it is actually official that the job is open:
Tier 1: The Flashy Names:
Zac Blackerby of LockedOn Auburn said on The Game Plan the other day that he believes Kiffin will be the next head coach of Auburn. Personally I don’t believe he will leave Ole Miss for Auburn and whether or not this is even an upgrade of a job right now is another question, but Auburn could entice him with a blank check.
Kiffin has a good thing going in Oxford, seemingly getting better every season and leading the Rebels to their first ever 10-win regular season in program history last year. The administration at Ole Miss would be wise to extend Kiffin and give him a raise if they want to be sure to keep him around, considering that money is the only real reason I could see him departing for Auburn. That, and the opportunity to take down Nick Saban in an Iron Bowl of course. While I don’t believe he is going to end up wanting the job, Kiffin is the dream hire for the Tigers.
“Coach Prime” has built Jackson State into an FCS powerhouse and it feels like only a matter of time before the power five offers start rolling in. Auburn needs someone who will be able to recruit at a high level, and Sanders is certainly that. He would be able to bring elite talent to The Plains probably more so than any other candidate.
Not to mention, this hire would inject some serious excitement and life into a program that desperately needs it right now. It remains to be seen if Sanders is an elite scheme coach, but as the old saying goes, college football is infinitely more about the jimmies and joes than the X’s and O’s. And as far as getting people to want to play at Auburn, this would be a fantastic hire.
Freeze’s past issues at Ole Miss may make this a tough hire for the “powers that be” at Auburn, but assuming Kiffin says no, there is not a better X’s and O’s coach available that could change the way Auburn plays offense and get them into the 21st century of college football more so than Freeze.
Freeze is now in the midst of his fourth season at Liberty and has compiled a record of 33-12 while developing quarterbacking Malik Willis into an NFL prospect, who ironically transferred from Auburn to play for Freeze. Freeze knows what it takes to win in the SEC and is a brilliant offensive mind who seems ready to take the reigns of a major program again. If Auburn can overlook his past, this is my personal opinion for most likely candidate.
Tier 2: Solid Candidate:
Jamey Chadwell (Coastal Carolina):
Chadwell has done a phenomenal job in his three seasons at Coastal. After a 5-7 2019, he has led the Chanticleers to back to back 11-win seasons and has them off to a 7-1 start this year. More importantly, he has been instrumental in the development of Grayson McCall and has turned him into a potential NFL prospect. A common theme here with these candidates is a good offensive mind, and Chadwell is certainly that, and seems ready to make a power five jump.
Tier 3: Wild Hire
Here me out here. O’Brien has been a head coach at the college level, guiding Penn State out of some very dark days and seeing some success in State College before he went back to the NFL to take over in Houston. And wouldn’t it just be perfect for Auburn to steal a coordinator away from Nick Saban to run their program? Yes, Alabama fans are not happy with O’Brien right now, but his proven track record of leading a program in disarray and experience at the highest level of football makes this, while a long shot, something that could maybe work.