Aubserver Mailbag 76: What would be good benchmarks for football in 2022?
This week: Smoke Monday, Landen King, Roger McCreary, Jaylin Williams, Chris Moore and a way-too-early look at the basketball rotation next season
(Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
For an offseason mailbag, this was all business.
Usually there’s a question — or more than a few questions — in here that have nothing to do with Auburn football or Auburn basketball. Those are heavier in the offseason, when we’re all just trying to think of things to talk about to pass the time.
But this week’s mailbag is a rare one, as I didn’t get a single non-Auburn question. Instead, there’s a lot of good stuff in here about Bryan Harsin and Bruce Pearl’s teams.
We start with a great question about defining success for Auburn football in what looks like a make-or-break 2022 season. We continue with ones about Smoke Monday, Landen King and Roger McCreary before switching over to a number of basketball topics — including a look at an early depth chart for next season.
Thank you for your continued support of The Auburn Observer. Let’s go.
What would you see as benchmarks of progress for football this year?
For me, they would be (1) a better record than last year (including not blowing games we clearly should win - no more Mississippi States or South Carolinas), (2) finishing in the top 15 nationally in recruiting, (3) no more off-the-field drama (including little or no staff turnover), and (4) being at least competitive on the road against UGA and Alabama.
These are all great benchmarks, and I want to dissect them one by one.
An improvement in win-loss record is an absolute must. Auburn hasn’t had back-to-back losing seasons since 1998 and 1999. Inheriting a program that won around eight games a year and not coming close to hitting that twice would be devastating for Bryan Harsin’s chances at longterm employment. Auburn will most likely be clear underdogs in three games and clear favorites in four. Success will be defined by what happens in the high number of toss-ups.
A top 15 finish in recruiting would be a great goal for Auburn in 2023. I know that the chief rivals are in top-five territory, but top-15 would pretty much continue Auburn’s trajectory in the Blue Chip Ratio and show some significant improvement. The internal investigation didn’t do any favors for recruiting, and moving back into the top 15 would mean a good bit.
If Auburn has a good enough record in 2022 and brings back Harsin and his staff, a quiet offseason — outside of recruiting and transfer portal wins — would be massive. That’s easy.
I don’t think anyone can realistically expect Auburn to beat either Alabama or Georgia on the road this season, but having competitive games past halftime would at least be an improvement on what we’ve seen in the last decade.
Here are some more benchmarks from me: