How Auburn, Bryan Harsin move forward as soap opera ends with Tigers coach returning for second season

The soap opera on the Plains is over, but the real intrigue is just beginning.

Auburn announced Friday that it will retain coach Bryan Harsin for his second season after a week-long saga that put his status in doubt. Influential boosters and administrators made it abundantly clear that they were unhappy with both roster and coaching turnover, as well as his inability to relate to the players as he led Auburn to its first losing record since 2012.

This entire saga perfectly encapsulates an acronym that gets thrown around the program on a consistent basis — JABA, which stands for “Just Auburn Being Auburn.”

So how on Earth will Harsin handle a Year 2 after going through peak JABA?

The easy answer is to win, especially coming off a 6-7 record in Year 1. Barely cracking bowl eligibility won’t cut it in Year 2, and a similar performance will most certainly result in Harsin’s dismissal and journey into buyout life. Winning isn’t the only factor moving forward, though.

Harsin can’t isolate himself and the program from boosters; that’s not the way Auburn works. Powerful people demand a say in how it operates, and those power brokers believe history proves its dysfunctional operation is actually successful. Tommy Tuberville went undefeated in 2004, one year after boosters tried to hire Bobby Petrino before the Iron Bowl in an incident known as “JetGate.” Gene Chizik won a national title in his second season in 2010. Gus Malzahn. meanwhile, came within 13 seconds of repeating the feat following his first season in 2013. 

It’s not like winning cured all for any of those three coaches, and it won’t matter all that much for Harsin either. He has to make an attempt — even if it’s a tad disingenuous — to involve the power brokers and play the JABA…

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