AUBURN, Ala. (WHNT) — Less than 24 hours after Auburn chose to fire Head Football Coach Bryan Harsin, the horse race has already begun to find his replacement.
Harsin, who came to Auburn from Boise State, served as head coach for less than two seasons with the Tigers. His record at Auburn stands at 9-12, with the Tigers only winning three out of eight games so far this season.
Former Auburn running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season, according to a statement from the university Monday.
However, the bidding war over who will be the next permanent head coach is just beginning.
News 19 compiled a list of frequently mentioned contenders for the job, with candidates ranging from coaches working in the SEC to former rivals, and even a coach with the National Football League (NFL).
Deion Sanders – Jackson State
Deion Sanders became a household name during his time in the NFL. From 1989 to 2005, the (mostly) cornerback played for five teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys. During his time on the field, he earned several nicknames, but none more known than “Prime Time.”
Sanders’ coaching career began in 2012 as a high school coach, but his first, and so far only, stint as a college coach came in 2020 with Jackson State.
While his first season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanders led the Tigers to a program record of 11 wins in 2021, and earned the Eddie Robinson Award, recognizing him as that year’s top FCS head coach.
Lane Kiffin – Ole Miss
Lane Kiffin has led Ole Miss as head coach since 2020, but the right opportunity could make him move.
Kiffin is a familiar face to those who pay attention to Alabama football, serving as offensive coordinator for the Tide under Nick Saban for three seasons between 2014 and 2016. He then moved to a head coach role at Florida Atlantic.
During his time at Ole Miss, Kiffin led the team to a 10-2 season in 2021, marking the first time in school history that Ole Miss won 10 regular season games.
Matt Rhule – (formerly) Carolina Panthers
Matt Rhule is a free agent, making his case for the Auburn job much easier than other contenders.
After ending his career as a player, Rhule started coaching at Albright College before stints at Buffalo, UCLA, Western Carolina, and Temple. In the professional arena, Rhule worked with the New York Giants in 2012, one year after the team won their 4th Super Bowl title.
Rhule returned to Temple as head coach in 2013, landing there for four seasons before moving on to Baylor.
He became the fifth head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2020, holding the job until he was fired on October 10, 2022.
Jeff Grimes – Baylor
Jeff Grimes should be a familiar name to those on the Plains.
Grimes served as an offensive line coach at Auburn from 2009 to 2012, hired by then-head coach Gene Chizik. During his tenure, the Tigers won the national title in 2010. Grimes was later fired by Guz Malzahn when he took over as head coach in December 2012.
Since leaving Auburn, Grimes has worked with Virginia Tech, LSU, BYU, and Baylor, all as offensive line coach or offensive coordinator.
Kevin Steele was reported to be the runner-up for the head coaching job at Auburn in 2020 when Harsin took over.
Steele began his coaching career in 1980 at Tennessee, and had several stints with the Vols over the years, including a short tenure as interim head coach in 2021.
He should be a familiar name to Auburn lovers, serving as defensive coordinator from 2016 to 2020, and briefly as interim head coach later that year. Since 2022, Steel has served as defensive coordinator at the University of Miami.
Are there other coaches that Auburn could pick? Submit your personal coaching choices for the Tigers to firstname.lastname@example.org!