Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald has guided his team to a Big Ten finalist this season. On Friday, his 14th-seeded Wildcats face Auburn 6-4 in the Citrus Bowl. AP
Unless Auburn’s new football coach Bryan Harsin keeps defensive coordinator Kevin Steele on his squad, Friday’s Citrus Bowl is the last time we see the $ 2. 5 million men.
With the dismissal of Gus Malzahn, Steele clinched the interim head coach title and will lead the 6-4 Tigers at the Citrus Bowl kickoff on Friday at noon against Associated Press No. 14 Northwest (6-2 ).
Steele and Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian are college football’s highest paid assistants, each earning $ 2. 5M.
If Steele is not selected, the Tigers, based on the contract extension he signed last year, will owe him around $ 5 million. This is in addition to the $ 21. 4 million owed to Gus Malzahn.
Steele’s son Gordon is an analyst on Nick Saban’s team, and because dad doesn’t need the money, he may end up in Tuscaloosa as an analyst. Harsin will have a hard time finding someone of Steele’s caliber.
Let’s start a good conspiracy. Saban and Steele, 62, have a close bond and Saban loses a few analysts, Butch Jones and AJ Milwee, in the state of Arkansas.
Losing Steele, who isn’t known for his recruiting skills, is one thing. Losing defensive line coach Rodney Garner, one of the best scouts in the country, the scout for everything Georgia is a whole different story.
Harsin won last week’s press conference and says he’s going to be spending time recruiting on the West Coast, which makes sense since he’s a West Coast guy. Auburn fans, however, would appreciate if he spent most of his time recruiting Georgia, Florida and Alabama rather than spinning his wheels in Idaho or California. He’ll have to win the Southern trio. deep to keep up with the Sabans, Smarts, Mullens and Orgerons to have Auburn compete for the titles. Keeping Garner on staff should be of the utmost importance.
Any coach Harsin brings to Auburn is going to love their new income bracket. Take for example his defensive coordinator at Boise, Jeff Schmedding. He was Harsin’s highest paid assistant, earning $ 350,000 in 2020.
Maybe he’s joining Harsin, 42, or maybe not. Boise’s base salary for his 10 assistant coaches ($ 2.325M) doesn’t even earn us Steele money.
Harsin takes a hands-on approach to the bowl game. He says he met his team, either through Zoom Face Time or in person and that he will watch the game. Maybe not in person. But he will closely monitor the performance of his players. Let’s call it a spring audition.
You can’t help but feel for Steele and many of the staff who likely won’t be around until the February signing. A tough year just got tougher and the opponent, 14th Northwest (6-2), arrives with a Big Ten runner-up and a fair enough defensive unit that would love to send the longtime Wildcats coordinator, 73. -old Mike Hankwitz, released with a resounding performance. Hankwitz is retiring after 13 seasons at Northwestern.
We know that the underdog at 3 1/2 points, Auburn, has several players who have pulled out, like Anthony Schwartz and defensive back Christian Tutt. There may be others so we shouldn’t. expect a lot of fireworks from quarterback Bo Nix and Co.
The Tigers will hang their shattered hopes on running back Tank Bigsby and a running game that could cause trouble in the Northwest. Ohio State’s Trey Sermon ran over 330 yards. Expect Steele’s defense, whether it’s his last time in the Plains or not, to play well.
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