Here's what you *didn't* hear from Bryan Harsin on the main stage at SEC Media Days
Auburn's head coach talked quarterbacks, an instant-impact newcomer, Tank Bigsby's improvement, recruiting and a lot more away from the cameras Thursday.
HC Bryan Harsin (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Bryan Harsin came out firing Thursday morning at SEC Media Days in Atlanta.
In his opening statement, the second-year head coach addressed the internal investigation into his program back in February and the chaos that spiraled out of control from it.
“Second time here,” Harsin said from the main stage. “Excited to be here. I know some of you out there looking at me didn't expect me to be here at this time. … There was an inquiry. It was uncomfortable. It was unfounded. It presented an opportunity for people to personally attack me, my family, and also our program. And it didn't work.”
Although Harsin said that he wanted his opening statement to be “the last time” he talked about what happened in February — he even told media members to “Google it” if they wanted any more information — he still got questions about it in the main session.
And, truth be told, a lot of what Harsin answered Thursday morning on the main stage is a lot of what Auburn fans have heard throughout the offseason. But it’s important to remember that SEC Media Days is mostly for regional and national media to talk to players and coaches that they don’t get access to regularly as local beat writers.
Fortunately, members of Auburn’s local media were able to have a private Q&A session with Harsin before he made the rounds Thursday morning. In what has been an annual SEC Media Days tradition, the head coach tackled more in-depth questions about the team heading into fall camp, which will begin with the first practice on August 5.
If you were watching SEC Network on Thursday morning or scrolling Twitter during the main session, you probably already heard or saw a lot of what Harsin said.
But here’s what he told the local media behind closed doors — a deeper dive into a team heading into a pivotal fall campaign, starting with the all-important quarterback battle.
When might Auburn name a starting quarterback for the season?
Harsin said Thursday he wasn’t married to a strict timeline when it comes to naming a starting quarterback.
But there’s a general guide for when QB1 will be unveiled, based on Harsin’s past experiences. When the fall camp focus shifts from general preseason work to preparing for the season opener, expect Auburn to be close to a decision — whether it gets promoted publicly or not.
“We’ll have one as we get into that first game prep,” Harsin said. “I usually say it’s about 10 days out. That’s kind of where it’s happened (in the past). But we’ll name a starter when it’s right. There will be a time in camp where everybody knows. Then it’s just a matter of how we want to roll it out.”
During spring practices, Harsin said he wanted to narrow the quarterback battle down after the first scrimmage of fall camp. Currently, the Tigers have four competitors in Zach Calzada, T.J. Finley, Robby Ashford and Holden Geriner — and they’re all getting equal reps with the rest of the offense in summer work. That should change near the midway point of camp.
But Harsin also made the interesting comment Thursday morning that the team “may have other guys in there who can contribute.” The staff hasn’t decided if multiple quarterbacks will be involved in the offense this fall, but he pointed to his pre-Auburn coaching days, where some of his teams used “a package or in some other things.”
What stands out the most to Harsin, though, is how all four quarterbacks have progressed in the mental side of playing the position.
“Those guys, I think, have taken the next step in the film room,” Harsin said. “We know they can throw, they can run, they can do all those things — there’s the physical component to it. But it’s really the mental side. I feel like our preparation and the study habits that Coach Kiesau has implemented, we’re just further along in those areas. So they understand the system, they understand what we’re trying to do.”
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