By Maddie Joiner
For the Opelika Observer
Football is right around the corner and preparation is in full swing. With that preparation comes big things: SEC Media Days.
First-year Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin, along with quarterback Bo Nix and linebacker Owen Pappoe, represented the Tigers last week at Media Days which took place at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham-Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover.
The change that has been associated with the Harsin era for Auburn continued as he took two juniors to the event, when Auburn has usually taken seniors. Previous attendees have included seniors Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Prince Tega Wanogho in 2019.
Harsin took the podium Thursday afternoon and started by saying how nice it was to finally be there and mentioned the abundance of well wishes he received before taking on his first SEC Media Days.
“I’ve been in some pretty big games and I’m not sure I’ve had this many people text me, call me, see me on the street and wish me good luck before some event, so credit to you all and happy to be here,” Harsin said.
Harsin, who was hired in December after coaching seven seasons at Boise State, is happy to be a part of the SEC, saying, “It does mean more and so I’m honored to be at Auburn University. I’m proud to be here in the SEC and to be a part of this conference and to represent our program.”
Harsin said his decision on having Nix and Pappoe represent Auburn was because he identified the two as leaders since he was hired.
“They’ve been leading and doing a tremendous job this summer,” he said. “Both guys are hard workers, and they deserve the opportunity to be here to represent their team.”
Harsin said the team is finishing up their final days of workouts and will have a few days off before fall camp begins Aug. 5. The team will have a meeting then and will take the field the next day for practice. The Tigers will have a 25-practice fall camp before taking the field in September.
Harsin expressed his excitement for his first season at Auburn, saying, “I’m excited about Tiger Walk. I want to walk from South Donahue all the way down to Jordan-Hare Stadium and I want to see all those people yelling ‘War Eagle’. I want to be in that stadium with 90,000 people going crazy.”
Nix took the stage after Harsin and his opening question addressed the Auburn offense, especially receivers. Nix said offensive experience is the key to the season and added the new players are working hard to learn the offense.
The junior quarterback has started the past two years for the Tigers but could have pressure this year as LSU transfer quarterback T.J. Finley also has SEC experience. Even with the possible threat, Nix said the pressure is an honor.
“I think pressure is a privilege,” Nix said. “All the added pressure is just more of an honor to be at Auburn playing quarterback.”
Nix said that this first summer under coach Harsin has been “very smooth” and said Harsin is, ”huge with the small details and the discipline that goes into running a football program.”
Nix added that the team has learned new schemes for offense, defense and special teams, as well as doing tough workouts that include running the stadium (which Nix and Pappoe did before traveling to Media Days).
Pappoe spoke last and said the transition has been smooth for the defense and that the defense this year is, “going to be able to play fast and show a lot of range.”
The junior linebacker was the defensive representative for the Tigers and said change was something they are focusing on this year.
“Big thing that we’re talking about, we just had a team meeting not too long ago, was just bringing change to Auburn. You know, blocking out the noise. We know everyone is counting us out.”
Pappoe also mentioned trying to break the cycle of losing at LSU and hopes they can come out on top this year.
“We’re just gonna be locked in,” Pappoe said. Nix and Pappoe will take the field for the first (official) time under new coach Harsin at Jordan-Hare on Sept. 4 for a matchup against Akron. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CST.