Auburn’s Bryan Harsin opens spring after offseason uncertainty

Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/USA TODAY NETWORK
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AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Bryan Harsin said he isn’t bitter about a school investigation that placed his job in apparent jeopardy.

Harsin has now turned his attention to finding a starting quarterback and stopping a five-game skid. But the memories linger, of course.

“There was a lot of things that happened,” Harsin said after the Tigers’ first spring practice. “I don’t really see the value at this point of looking back in the rearview mirror. I’m a guy that wants to move forward, that wants to get better, that wants to keep moving. Now, that’s how I operate.

“There’s other people involved. There’s other families involved. I’m not saying they have to operate like I do.”

The probe started with President Jay Gogue telling trustees that his office was “trying to separate fact from fiction” surrounding the polarizing coach. The program had lost 18 players and five assistant coaches after Harsin’s 6-7 debut season, including three coordinators.

One former player said Harsin treated them “like dogs,” though others rose to Harsin’s defense.

It ended with Gogue decrying the “wild speculation” and misinformation in the “feeding frenzy” surrounding Harsin, whose contract runs through the 2026 season. He didn’t specify the nature of that speculation.

Now, Harsin is trying to move forward and overcome any lingering uncertainty among players, fans and recruits. He says that has to be a team effort, and not just among players, stressing that “this isn’t Auburn versus Auburn.”

“If we’re all going in that same direction, people are going to want to be a part of that,” he said. “If we’re not going in the same direction, people aren’t going to want to be a part of it.”

Harsin also knows some opposing coaches will use that offseason turmoil against Auburn on the recruiting trail.

“And there’s a lot of programs and people out there that have no problem doing that,” he said. “I don’t feel that way. I really don’t. There’s a lot of people that don’t. We battled it and we’re going to battle it every day.”

Harsin hired Eric Kiesau as his third offensive coordinator in some 14 months. With the offseason issues apparently behind them, their most high-profile task of the spring is picking from a large field of quarterback candidates.

Three-year starter Bo Nix left for Oregon, and LSU transfer T.J. Finley took his place after Nix’s season-ending injury. Auburn brought in former Texas A&M starter Zach Calzada and Oregon transfer Robby Ashford to join Finley, redshirt freshman Dematrius Davis and signee Holden Geriner in the competition.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.