Auburn’s Bryan Harsin, Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz face off Saturday


Who will get canned first: Bryan Harsin (l.) or Eli Drinkwitz (r.)?

Who will get canned first: Bryan Harsin (l.) or Eli Drinkwitz (r.)?
Picture: Getty Pictures

Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin and Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz are on a collision course, pushing their Southeastern Convention squads into an important recreation of their respective teaching careers. The previous mentor and pupil have but to partake in a battle of wits as head coaches. Missouri and Auburn’s early Saturday conflict will change that, with each units of Tigers opening league play. The stakes are clearly successful in any respect prices and getting off to a great begin within the deepest convention in America. The results of shedding will put the defeated coach in deep shit, just a little nearer to being thrown overboard by the athletic departments that joyfully employed them lower than three years in the past.

Drinkwitz and Harsin are each of their second stops as head coaches, departing one of many Group of 5’s finest packages for an opportunity to use their craft within the prestigious SEC. The 39-year-old Drinkwitz was employed in December 2019, leaving then-Solar Belt champions Appalachian State for Mizzou. Following a 5-5 pandemic season and a 6-7 report final yr, Missouri is 2-1, after a convincing victory over Louisiana Tech to open the season, adopted by a dismantling by the hands of Kansas State, then a 17-point win over FCS-level Abilene Christian.

With Georgia and taking part in in The Swamp in opposition to Florida immediately following the highway journey to Auburn, Mizzou must keep away from the free fall of heading into its bye week 2-Four with video games in opposition to Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky nonetheless to go. It’s the naked minimal anticipating to make a bowl recreation. Auburn is proving to be the most-winnable recreation of these six. Whereas Drinkwitz’s job safety hasn’t turn out to be a every day matter in Columbia, seemingly due to how effectively the Tigers have recruited beneath his management, are these blue-chip prospects sufficient to maintain the sharks from circling if his workers can’t persistently flip them into authentic SEC-caliber athletes?

Whereas the temperature of Drinkwitz’s seat is just a little ambiguous and will fully cool with a profitable subsequent month, when has Harsin’s seat not been scorching on The Plains during the last a number of months? This offseason was stuffed with controversy at AU, with main questions on Harsin’s locker room tradition. And all that existed 12 months after former head coach Gus Malzahn received the most effective job in America, fired FBS soccer coach, being paid $21.45 million by Auburn to go away, just like the $15 million Scott Frost lately acquired from Nebraska to not be on the helm. Will Muschamp earned practically $13 million in 2020 from South Carolina to go coach some other place.

After defeating FCS-level Mercer and skating by San Jose State, Harsin’s Tigers received dismantled by Penn State. Auburn has an much more tough schedule than Mizzou to finish 2022. Because of the larger expectations for a program that final appeared in a nationwide title recreation in 2013, the will to return to the mountaintop as quickly as doable once you share a state with Nick Saban turns into paramount yearly. Harsin’s have to win on Saturday does prime Drinkwitz even when each desperately need it. Look again to the final time the groups performed in 2017. Kerryon Johnson ran for 5 touchdowns and Auburn trounced Mizzou. Practically 5 years to the day, they’ll sq. off once more in an enormous signal of how far the mighty have fallen. It’s been even longer for Missouri’s drop from mighty standing, as that Auburn-Mizzou SEC Championship recreation was 9 years in the past. The argument that Missouri made it again to Atlanta a yr later solely proves my level concerning the want for SEC groups to remain related or cascade down the convention’s hierarchy.

Both Drinkwitz and Harsin inked six-year deals to join the SEC, but have had history well beyond their current posts. Harsin’s first head coaching opportunity came at Arkansas State, and Drinkwitz was on his staff. As Boise State came calling to get Harsin out of Jonesboro, he brought Drinkwitz with him to the Mountain West. In 2016, Drinkwitz forged his own path and became the offensive coordinator at NC State. Before heading to Arkansas State, Drinkwitz got his start in college football under Gene Chizik at Auburn. The now-Mizzou coach hasn’t been back to where he got his collegiate start since 2013, when the Red Wolves traveled to play the Tigers.

On Tuesday, Drinkwitz said he’s indebted to Harsin for believing in him when not many did. He then pondered whether he’d still be in college football, much less with one of the coveted 64 Power Five Conference head coaching jobs, if not for Auburn’s current coach. In this ruthless gridiron business, combined with the win-now demands from AU boosters, Drinkwitz taking down his former mentor should put Harsin one foot out the door. They’ll give the previous Boise State coach an enormous quantity to not be round their program anymore and again up one other truckload of dough to usher in one other coach to attempt to rectify the issues. That’s the circle of life within the SEC. You’ll get wealthy even if you happen to do a shitty job. Successful on Saturday simply prolongs the slippery poop slope for considered one of them. Solely then they’ll have an opportunity to dig themselves out. I’ll go together with Drinkwitz having a contented homecoming at Auburn. Protecting Harsin on the helm is simply prolonging the inevitable.

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