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Bryan Harsin: The Iron Bowl is ‘one of the reasons why I wanted to be at Auburn’

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Bryan Harsin knew about the Iron Bowl well before he arrived at Auburn in December 2020.

Harsin spoke about Auburn’s rivalry with Alabama on Monday, five days before he leads the Tigers onto the field against the Crimson Tide for the first time. He said watching past Iron Bowls were a must given the magnitude of the games, adding he and his coaches at Boise State were usually able to do so thanks to the Broncos’ later kickoff times.

For Harsin, going up against Alabama was part of what made taking over at Auburn an appealing opportunity.

“I told the players I’m excited to coach in this game. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to be at Auburn,” Harsin said. “It’s something that you sit there and you think how cool that is to have a chance for those guys to go out there and play in a rivalry game like this. And now to be here, I told our players I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to coach in the game, and you know, that’s one of the things about being at Auburn that you get a chance to do.”

Even though Alabama has been the premier program in all of college football for more than a decade, Auburn has continued to hang tight with its biggest rival.

The Tigers have gotten their share of blows in against the Crimson Tide lately, as the teams have split their last four meetings. Auburn’s ability to tangle with Alabama has been unparalleled given the Crimson Tide’s recent dominance: since the 2012 season, Auburn is the only Alabama opponent to come out on top three times.

Harsin recalled the first question he got at his introductory press conference was about beating Alabama, which he said made it very clear how important the rivalry was.

“As far as our fans, people that are part of our program, like I said, this game has been going on for a long time,” Harsin said. “This game is one that everybody in the country knows is being played, and certainly when you have your fans, your alumni, people that have been a part of it and are passionate about Auburn-Alabama—to me, that’s the best part of this game.”

Harsin explained the storied rivalry makes players want to prepare themselves thoroughly to try and have their best game against their biggest rival. Now that the days until kickoff are winding down, he explained any talk has subsided and the game becomes the absolute focus.

While the Iron Bowl certainly offers a different experience compared to other games Harsin has coached Auburn in, Harsin explained the mission to develop and improve every day remains the same. Harsin acknowledged how good Alabama is, which means the Tigers must make the most of their week in order to have a chance against the Crimson Tide.

“We’re going to have to play tough, we’re going to have to be disciplined, we’re going to have to do things that we’ve shown that we’re capable of on a consistent basis,” Harsin said. “That’s going to be exciting on gameday to be a part of that, and then you go out there and get a chance to play.

“Hopefully that’s the most exciting thing — our opportunity to play and that we’re trying to play the best we can.”

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