Who Will Be Auburn's Next Head Coach? Here Are The Contenders

Speculation about who will be the Auburn Tigers’ next head coach has zeroed in on a handful of candidates.

Here are the top names to replace Bryan Harsin, fired after Arkansas drubbed the Tigers, 41-27, on Oct. 29. 

  • Hugh Freeze, Liberty head coach
  • Deion Sanders, Jackson State head coach
  • Dan Lanning, Oregon head coach
  • Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss head coach
  • Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Auburn interim coach
  • Matt Rhule, former Carolina Panthers head coach

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Top Contenders

Freeze emerged as a major contender on Nov. 5 when Liberty, a private university in Lynchburg, Virginia, defeated Arkansas of the powerful SEC West, 21-19, spoiling the Razorbacks’ homecoming in Fayetteville.

Sanders, now 55 years old, was one of the premiere athletes of his era and has earned respect in the coaching community for his play-calling abilities and motivational skills in developing well-rounded student athletes.

Lanning has had an up-and-down season in his first year at Oregon, including a lopsided 49-3 loss at Georgia, where he had been an assistant coach, and a 37-34 loss last Saturday to rival Washington. In the Washington game, Lanning make a couple of controversial calls, including an onside kick attempt that backfired and a fourth-and-one play at their own 34 that didn’t work.

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Also in the Running

An experienced college and NFL head coach, Kiffin, now in his third year at Ole Miss, has elevated that program to a higher status than SEC West rival Auburn’s. Football pundits contend it would take a lot of money to encourage Kiffin to leave Oxford for The Plains.

Williams, a former Auburn and NFL running back, led the Tigers to a 13-10 home win last Saturday over SEC West foe Texas A&M, whose head coach, Jimbo Fisher, has been on a hot seat for much of the season.

Williams’ players responded favorably to their interim coach, contending he has brought old-school pride back to a storied program. 

“He’s instilling old Auburn, which is good,” said defensive lineman Colby Wooden. “I feel like we have gotten away from what it means to be Auburn, and shout out to ’Lac for just bringing it back.”

After a dismal 1-4 start this year, the NFL Panthers fired Rhule, a former college coach at Baylor and Temple, making him available for teams seeking a capable head coach. In 2019, he led Baylor to an 11-3 record and a No. 13 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. However, according to reports, Rhule could be named head coach at Nebraska by early this week.

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