The inevitable became this Friday, when Auburn’s Allen Greene has resigned from his post — a move unheard of for an athletic director who was safe in his role, but Greene was never really safe in that role.
Towards the end of a contract set to expire in January 2023, Greene’s tenure was rocky and the ground beneath him was rapidly changing. A month before he was hired in January 2018, then-football coach Gus Malzahn was given a seven-year extension at the end of the 2017 football season from school president Steven Leath (who to be job in May 2017). Some presidents aren’t very practical with athletics, but Leath is. Malzahn got that extension after securing a spot in the SEC championship game in a rematch against Georgia with a College Football Playoff berth on the line. Auburn lost, but Malzahn had bought back shares and signed a new deal with a massive buyout.
The boosters who wanted him out couldn’t really get rid of him after such a great season, even if they wanted to, and the new deal also helped fend off an open track in Arkansas (Malzahn’s home state, where he played a high school coach). legend and assistant for a year with the Hogs). None of the above is Greene’s fault, it was a vacuum of athletic department leadership that nature abhors, so Leath stepped in.
With a coach expected to be screwed in the near future, Greene usually took charge of the rest of the athletics department. Within 18 months, he didn’t really make friends in the department, largely due to 10% cuts across the board, including a baseball team that had just made it to the College World Series and a men’s basketball team that had just made it to the finals. Four, growing tensions with his head coach, Bruce Pearl. By mid-2019, Leath was out, replaced by former president Jay Gouge, and Malzahn made it through the 2019 and ’20 seasons before being fired in December 2020.
Influential instigators orchestrated a coup d’état in the palace and drove Malzahn from his job with a hefty buyout that came with it. They tried to get their own man on the job, but pulled out after – in part – a social media campaign scared them. In the Auburn tradition of one leadership void after another, Greene stepped in and conducted a conventional quest that, with an unconventional name, ended up with then-Boise State coach Bryan Harsin. Harsin’s appointment isn’t the reason Greene is out of his job, but it certainly hasn’t helped. And there have been rumors of Greene’s involvement in multiple other sporting administrative searches as it became increasingly clear that he would not get a contract extension. Greene also saw some of his power in the athletics department wane after the university’s COO, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, was brought in to oversee athletics.
By February 2022, boosters were back again, trying to drum up anything that would stick to fire Harsin. He held on to the money owed to him, no one found anything concrete after an internal investigation and Harsin remains head coach. Many sources expected Harsin and Greene to be let loose together after the season if the Tigers had a tough year on the field, but the end has now come and Greene is leaving to, as the release put it, “explore other professional interests”.
If you’ve followed it this far, you know that Auburn works almost exclusively through dysfunction. This current wave of uproar comes from the artist who gave us hits like JetGate, the recruitment of Cam Newton and a probation scandal that gave the show a shot at a title in the early 1990s – and that’s just the surface.
Auburn has a new president, Christopher Roberts, and again the question arises: what kind of program does it want to be and who is really in control? Auburn is no stranger to scandal or dysfunction, but there is one common denominator over the past 40 years to give them: winning.
There will be usual suspects if Auburn chooses to go internal: Tim Jackson, head of Auburn’s booster organization or compliance director Rich McGlynn. Former NFL CIO and auburn alum Michelle Mckenna is also a name to know as the search gets underway. Auburn could also choose to go the search company’s route and bring in another outsider, but it’s unclear how much has really changed on the inside.
There’s a best case scenario here where Auburn seriously battles for the SEC West with a good defense and makes firing Harsin politically untenable, just like Malzahn in 2017. The football program continues amicably and tensions cool down. A new AD could enter that situation in conjunction with a thriving men’s basketball program and there is some stability.
But if Auburn does poorly on the pitch pushing the people who don’t like Harsin to get their way, there could be a brand new AD either trying to hire a new coach amid massive headwinds they may not quite understand. or an AD who got a job with a new head coach that they had nothing to say about hiring, plus all the problems that can arise if that head coach isn’t the right man.
This is Chestnut brown. Which one do you think is most likely?
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