Another day, another saga for Bryan Harsin in his second season as Auburn’s head football coach.
During Wednesday’s Southeast conference call, he was asked about a story that he was denying players non-medical redshirts.
“I don’t know what report you’re talking about,” Harsin said.
According to reports from Auburn Daily, Harsin ‘refused to allow players to request a red jersey without a medical reason not to play’, calling it ‘you play or you go’, forcing some players to end their seasons 2022 earlier to avoid losing. one qualifying season.
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Tight end Landen King has confirmed his intention to wear a red shirt on October 5 after reports surfaced earlier in the day. According to sources around the program, Harsin believed King could still play a role for the Tigers and was healthy enough to play. Initially, King publicly stated that he would remain in the program as he was still attending practice and participating in the scout team for the past few weeks.
Auburn did not confirm or deny the redshirt for King because he was progressing on the scouting team, and there was an opportunity for an increased role. He was removed from the online list late on Tuesday night after tweeting a statement that he was entering the transfer portal.
King is more attractive in the transfer portal with three years of eligibility versus two years. King, recruited from Auburn by former coach Gus Malzahn, was unhappy with his playing time, which led to the redshirt demand, sources say. Harsin wanted King to commit to playing and hoped to have him available for the Arkansas game.
Harsin alluded to the value of having as many healthy players as possible on Monday when asked about his team’s health after the opening date.
“The one thing about injuries, we only look at it as players in the game, how it affects this game. But it really impacts the practice,” Harsin said. “If the guy has to take the two reps, he has no one to back him up, and he’s doing double reps, and very quickly he gets tired, and that’s going to hurt us later.”
King came to Auburn as a tight rookie and was in his first season playing a new position with different responsibilities. He was also behind experienced receivers Ja’Various Johnson and Tar’Varish Dawson on the depth chart. Freshman Jay Fair was also pushing for time.
King did not play in the season opener against Mercer, in part because his adaptation from tight end to wide receiver was still progressing. According to Pro Football Focus, he had 16 snaps in the win over San Jose State. His only catch for 24 yards came in the loss to Penn State.
According to PFF, King made 15 snaps against the Nittany Lions and 12 against Mizzou.
The former 3-star recruit dressed for the LSU game but didn’t get snaps in the contest. He didn’t make the 70-player roster for Georgia and Ole Miss road losses.
Asked about his policy on redshirt players on Wednesday following the release of several players in the transfer portal, Harsin said it was something his team was discussing and reviewing. “We know the number of games,” the Auburn head coach said. “So we are really monitoring that as a staff. We’ve done it every year, and certainly with the new four-game rule. We have always paid attention to this.
Harsin received a follow-up question directly mentioning allegations that he denied the redshirts for any reason other than injury. He explained his policy on the management of red shirts.
“It all depends on what’s needed and who’s out there who also gets in position to be able to play, and who can help us play,” Harsin said. “We are monitoring this as a staff, and we continue to monitor this with the guys. If they can’t go over there and play for us, there are guys ahead of them, and they’re young players; if they have a redshirt year, that’s usually when they can use it.
Harsin’s job is to put the best players on the field to give Auburn a chance to win. It’s also no secret that he’s in one of the hottest seats in America heading into the final five games of the season. King has the right to protect his footballing destiny. Harsin’s fate at Auburn hinges on his wins right now. Auburn is 3-4 with a 1-3 SEC record, and Harsin is 9-11 as Tigers head coach.
“But overall, all the guys who come here come to play,” Harsin said. “That’s what we go through every week: what is that plan and how do we use our players to help us and their teammates succeed and win football games?”
Harsin’s comments on Wednesday’s call demonstrate his belief that coaching staff evaluations should lead to a redshirt decision.
In today’s world of the transfer portal, is it fair for a player to dictate their position while reaping the benefits of being a scholarship athlete until they leave? Should an athlete leaving or waiting for the current coach to be fired continue to access program resources such as the weight room, physiotherapists, training table, etc.? ? Should the player risk losing the precious red jersey if he thinks he is in an untenable situation?
Your answer may depend on the position you are currently in. Harsin’s place as Auburn’s coach is becoming more tenuous by the day.
Nubyjas Wilborn covers Auburn for Alabama Media Group.
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