For Auburn, the Citrus is a test of new coach Brian Harsin

Unless Auburn’s new soccer coach Brian Harsin keeps defense coordinator Kevin Steele on his team, Friday’s Citrus Bowl is the last time we see a man of $ 2.5 million.

With the release of Jos Malzan, Steele took over the interim coaching title and would lead the Tigers 6-4 to kick-off Friday afternoon’s match against AP No. 14 Northwestern (6-2).

Steele and Alabama attack coordinator Steve Sarkissian are the highest paid assistants in college football, with each earning $ 2.5 million.

If Steele wasn’t kept, the Tigers, based on the contract extension he signed last year, would owe him about $ 5 million. This is on top of the $ 21.4 million owed to Gus Malzahn.

Steele’s son, Gordon, was Nick Saban’s staff analyst before taking a job in South Alabama, and Steele might end up in Tuscaloosa. Harsen would struggle to find someone of Steel’s caliber.

Let’s start a good plot. The 62-year-old Saban and Steele have close ties, and Saban loses two analysts, Butch Jones and AJ Milloy, to Arkansas.

The loss of Steele, whose talent for recruiting is not known, is one thing. The loss of defensive line coach Rodney Garner, one of the nation’s best recruits, a recruiter of all things Georgia, that’s another whole story.

Harsen won the press conference last week and says he’s going to spend some time recruiting West Coast, which makes sense because he’s a West Coast guy. However, Auburn fans will appreciate spending most of his time recruiting Georgia, Florida, and Alabama rather than spinning his wheels in Idaho or California. He would need to win a Deep South Triple to keep up with the Sabans, Smarts, Mullins and Orgrones in order for Auburn to compete for the titles. Keeping Garner in the cast should be of the utmost importance.

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Any coaches Harsen brings to Auburn will love their new income bracket. Let’s use Boise’s Defense Coordinator, Jeff Schmedding, as an example. Harsen’s assistant was the highest-paid, making $ 350K in 2020.

He might join the 42-year-old Harsin, or he might not. Boise’s base salary total for its 10 assistant coaches ($ 2.325 million) doesn’t even get us into Steele’s money.

Our picks are January 1-2, except for the qualifiers.

New Years Day

Citrus bowl

Auburn versus Northwestern

Harsen takes a hands-off approach to the bowl game. He says he has met his team, either through Zoom, FaceTime, or in person, and will watch the game. Just maybe not personally. But he will closely monitor the performance of his players. Let’s call it a spring ball audition.

You can’t help but feel the stiffness of Steele and the many employees who will likely not be around on Signing Day in February. A tough year just got tougher and the opponent, seeded 14th Northwestern (6-2), comes second in the Big Ten and a very fair defensive unit wants to send in the long-time Wildcats Coordinator, 73 – Mike Hankowitz, the old with an impressive performance. Hankowitz retires after 13 seasons in Northwestern.

We know that Auburn, a 3/2 losing side, has many players who have pulled out, such as defender Anthony Schwartz and defending full back Christian Tutt. There may be others so you shouldn’t expect a lot of fireworks from Quarterback Boo Nicks & Co.

The Tigers will pin their troubled hopes on bringing back the Bigsby Tank and the potentially troublesome running game Northwestern. Trey Sermon of Ohio ran over 330 yards. Expect Steele’s defense, whether his last time on the Plains or not, to play well.

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Northwestern 27, Auburn 24

Chick a Phil Bowl

Georgia 30, Cincinnati 23

Saturday, January 2

Crocodile tax bowl

North Carolina 31, Kentucky 27

Remote Bowl

Ole Miss 26, Indiana 24

PlayStation Fiesta Ball

Iowa 26, Oregon 21

Cotton Capital One

Texas A&M 36, North Carolina 31

Charles Hollis has covered college football since 1983. You can reach him at [email protected]

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