Citrus Bowl Preview Football

Bryan Harsin, Auburn’s new college coach, speaks to a group of reporters during a news conference Dec. 24 in Auburn, Ala.

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s Bryan Harsin hired former head coaches as his coordinators on Thursday, bringing in Mike Bobo to run the offense and Derek Mason to lead the defense.

The new Tigers coach, previously the coach at Boise State, first announced he had hired his former Mountain West Conference counterpart Bobo. The hiring of Mason, a former Vanderbilt coach, was announced hours later.

Bobo was South Carolina’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season after five years as the coach at Colorado State. He also played quarterback for Georgia, where he was offensive coordinator from 2007-14.

“I’ve wanted to work with Mike now for quite some time as he complements the many things we want to do with our offense,” Harsin said. “We are going to be very versatile in what we do and Mike’s offensive background speaks for itself.

“I’m really excited to combine forces with Mike as we create the Auburn offense, a high-powered, attacking and physical unit that will come at you in many ways.”

Bobo led Colorado State to bowl games in each of his first three seasons. His 2017 team set the school record for total yards per game.

Bobo went 28-35 overall and 20-20 in the Mountain West.

Vanderbilt fired Mason after losing the first eight games of his seventh season in 2020. He was just the second coach to lead the Commodores to multiple bowl appearances.

“Derek Mason is one of the best defensive minds in college football and his track record speaks for itself,” Harsin said. “I’ve always admired his ability to prepare his defenses and his approach with players on and off the field is outstanding.

“Having experience as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference is invaluable and he will bring a lot to our program.”

The architect of Stanford’s 3-4 defense, Mason spent four seasons with the Cardinal and was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2011.

The 2013 Stanford defense ranked third nationally in rushing defense, 10th in scoring defense and 16th in total defense. Mason was a finalist for the 2012 Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

That 2012 Stanford team set a school record with 57 sacks and led the Pac-12 in scoring defense, total defense and rushing defense.

Chattanooga fires assistant after ‘appalling’ tweet

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Chattanooga has fired an offensive line coach following a social media post disparaging both the state of Georgia and Stacey Abrams as “Fat Albert.”

In the tweet caught by screen grabs, Chris Malone posted on Twitter on Tuesday night: “Congratulations to the state GA and Fat Albert @staceyabrams because you have truly shown America the true works of cheating in an election, again!!! Enjoy the buffet Big Girl!! You earned it!!! Hope the money is good, still not governor!”

The Twitter account was deleted by Wednesday night.

Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton issued a statement Thursday, saying the post was brought to his attention Wednesday night. Chattanooga confirmed Malone has been fired. Wharton did not refer to him by name, saying “that individual” is no longer a part of the program without specifying it was Malone.

“A totally inappropriate social media post by a member of our football staff was brought to my attention,” Wharton said. “The entire post was appalling.”

Football coach Rusty Wright also referred to Malone as “that individual” and called the post unacceptable and said it violated the program’s standards.

Malone was no longer listed on the Chattanooga staff website Thursday morning. Chattanooga played one game in the 2020 season, a loss at Western Kentucky.

Ole Miss offensive coordinator inks new deal

OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby has agreed to a new two-year contract.

The university announced the deal on Tuesday, three days after a similar announcement for Rebels coach Lane Kiffin. Ole Miss didn’t release details of either deal.

Lebby was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award honoring the nation’s best assistant coach.

Ole Miss broke the SEC record for total offense in conference games, averaging 562.4 yards per game. The Rebels averaged 40.7 points a game, 344.8 passing yards and 217.7 rushing yards.

Quarterback Matt Corral led the nation in total offense with a 384.3-yard average.

“Coach Lebby did an incredible job managing our offense and preparing Matt every game,” Kiffin said. “Coach Lebby brings the innovative mentality we want in our program, and we look forward to building on the historic success of this season’s offense.”

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