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 profitable in any respect prices and getting off to begin within the deepest convention in America. The results of dropping will put the defeated coach in deep shit, a little bit 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 greatest applications 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 file 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 enjoying in The Swamp in opposition to Florida straight following the street journey to Auburn, Mizzou must keep away from the free fall of heading into its bye week 2-4 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 into a every day subject in Columbia, seemingly due to how properly the Tigers have recruited beneath his management, are these blue-chip prospects sufficient to maintain the sharks from circling if his employees can’t constantly flip them into reliable SEC-caliber athletes?
Whereas the temperature of Drinkwitz’s seat is a little bit ambiguous and will utterly cool with a profitable subsequent month, when has Harsin’s seat not been scorching on The Plains over the past a number of months? This offseason was filled 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 obtained one of the best job in America, fired FBS soccer coach, being paid $21.45 million by Auburn to depart, just like the $15 million Scott Frost just lately obtained from Nebraska to now 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 obtained 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 need to return to the mountaintop as quickly as attainable while you share a state with Nick Saban turns into paramount yearly. Harsin’s have to win on Saturday does high 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. Almost 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 in regards to the want for SEC groups to remain related or cascade down the convention’s hierarchy.
Each Drinkwitz and Harsin inked six-year offers to hitch the SEC, however have had historical past properly past their present posts. Harsin’s first head teaching alternative got here at Arkansas State, and Drinkwitz was on his employees. As Boise State got here calling to get Harsin out of Jonesboro, he introduced Drinkwitz with him to the Mountain West. In 2016, Drinkwitz cast his personal path and have become the offensive coordinator at NC State. Earlier than heading to Arkansas State, Drinkwitz obtained his begin in school soccer beneath Gene Chizik at Auburn. The now-Mizzou coach hasn’t been again to the place he obtained his collegiate begin since 2013, when the Crimson Wolves traveled to play the Tigers.
On Tuesday, Drinkwitz stated he’s indebted to Harsin for believing in him when not many did. He then contemplated whether or not he’d nonetheless be in school soccer, a lot much less with one of many coveted 64 Energy 5 Convention head teaching jobs, if not for Auburn’s present coach. On this ruthless gridiron enterprise, mixed with the win-now calls for from AU boosters, Drinkwitz taking down his former mentor ought to 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 try to rectify the issues. That’s the circle of life within the SEC. You’ll get wealthy even should you do a shitty job. Profitable 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 cheerful homecoming at Auburn. Maintaining Harsin on the helm is barely prolonging the inevitable.