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Auburn names Carnell Williams interim head football coach

Justin Hokanson10/31/22
Article written by:On3 imageJustin Hokanson

_JHokanson

On3 image
Auburn interim coach Carnell Williams has received a commitment from the No. 1 JUCO IOL.

AUBURN — Auburn running backs coach Carnell Williams will be the Tigers’ interim head football coach for the final four games of the season, Auburn Live has learned.

The announcement was made on Monday, just hours after the university fired Bryan Harsin.

The statement from the university read: “Auburn University has decided to make a change in the leadership of the Auburn University football program. President Roberts made the decision after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the football program. Auburn will begin an immediate search for a coach that will return the Auburn program to a place where it is consistently competing at the highest levels and representing the winning tradition that is Auburn football.”

Williams is in his third season as the Tigers’ running backs coach, and was an All-American running back on the Plains from 2001-2004.

Under Williams’ tutelage in 2020, freshman running back Tank Bigsby was named the SEC Co-Freshman of the Year and Associated Press SEC Newcomer of the Year after leading all freshmen in the conference with 834 rushing yards. Bigsby was the first freshman in school history to rush for three consecutive 100-yard games and his 834 yards were the second most all-time at Auburn by a rookie.

Williams’ coaching career started at Henderson State in 2015 where he served as the running backs coach. After a stint at the University of West Georgia in 2016, Williams was the running backs coach for IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida for two seasons (2017-18). Williams also served as the running backs coach for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football (AAF).

As a player for the Tigers, Williams helped lead Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004 while earning All-America honors that year. The 2005 NFL Rookie of the Year, Williams had a seven-year NFL career before entering the coaching ranks.

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Harsin fired

Auburn University has decided to make a change in the leadership of the Auburn University football program, per an official university release.

President Roberts made the decision after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the football program. Auburn will begin an immediate search for a coach that will return the Auburn program to a place where it is consistently competing at the highest levels and representing the winning tradition that is Auburn football.

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Harsin will end his Auburn career with a 9-12 overall record and 3-10 record in SEC play.

An interim coach was not immediately named in the university release. Auburn will owe Harsin 70 percent of the remaining salary – approximately $15 million – on his contract, which runs through Dec. 31, 2026. Half of that buyout is due within 30 days of his termination.

Harsin is the first Auburn coach to finish his tenure with a losing record since Earl Brown’s three-year stint wrapped with a 3-22-4 record between 1948-50.

Harsin was hired on December 22, 2020. He was hired after a back-and-forth between boosters, then president Jay Gogue and then AD Allen Greene. The boosters wanted someone else, Gogue intervened, and Greene chose Harsin. It was essentially doomed from the start.

After a 6-7 first season, the university began an inquiry into the football program in the winter of 2021-2022. The focus was Harsin’s treatment of players and coaches within his program. The inquiry turned up nothing in terms of “cause” for firing Harsin, but it was another black eye on Harsin and the university.

Harsin shuffled through staff, firing his offensive coordinator after last season, and watching his defensive coordinator leave for Oklahoma State. Harsin tried to hire Austin Davis from the Seattle Seahawks, but that didn’t work out after Davis resigned shortly after taking the job.

Harsin’s firing comes on the heels of four straight losses and three straight games in which the opponent has allowed 40-plus points.

He went 69-19 at Boise State before arriving at Auburn.