The uncertainty was probably the most troublesome factor for Cadillac Williams.
When Gus Malzahn was fired as Auburn’s head coach on Dec. 13, the afternoon after Auburn accomplished a 6-4 common season with a street win at Mississippi State, Williams was amongst these left questioning: What’s subsequent?
“It was powerful,” Williams mentioned Monday. “… Simply my two years being right here, being a part of this employees with Coach Malzahn and people different coaches, you simply have a priority for not solely your self however their households and the route of the place we’re going to go as a college. With me being a man who performed right here, who loves Auburn, it’s type of twofold for me, the place you actually need the perfect for Auburn, however on the identical time, not understanding your future with Auburn was type of nerve-racking.”
Williams nonetheless had a yr remaining on his contract with Auburn as its operating backs coach after agreeing to an extension — with a $25,000 increase — final offseason, however whether or not he would nonetheless have a job on the Plains as soon as a brand new coach was in place remained to be seen. Auburn took 9 days to determine and rent Bryan Harsin as this system’s new head coach, and through his introductory press convention on Christmas Eve, he made it clear that he was going to be meticulous in placing collectively his teaching employees.
That meant much more ready, and extra uncertainty, for Williams.
Over the next week, Williams had preliminary discussions with Harsin as Auburn started preparation for the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 towards Northwestern. Whereas Harsin was vetting Williams as a possible addition to his inaugural employees on the Plains, the early conversations between the 2 have been casual. Harsin wished to study not nearly Williams, the individual, however he wished to study extra about Auburn, this system.
Few have been extra certified than Williams, a former All-American who’s No. 2 on this system’s all-time speeding checklist with 3,831 yards and No. 1 in profession speeding touchdowns with 45 — who additionally spent the final two seasons grooming the Tigers’ operating backs. Williams let Harsin find out about himself and taught him extra in regards to the “Auburn method” of doing issues. Williams received to know Harsin, too, and whereas the brand new coach wished to know extra about this system he was inheriting, it additionally grew to become clear that he had his personal method of doing issues.
“He’s a hard-nosed coach who believes in self-discipline, who believes in simply constructing younger males, not solely on the sphere but in addition off the sphere,” Williams mentioned. “I simply suppose his construction and the best way he goes about issues—he’s demanding however not demeaning.”
As soon as Auburn received by means of its bowl recreation, that’s when it grew to become evident to Williams that Harsin was critically contemplating retaining him on employees. The 2 received extra into the X’s and O’s of teaching and the way their types and philosophies may mesh. Harsin wished to know the place Williams noticed himself as a coach — the place he wished to get to — and to see if Williams was match for what he wished Auburn to do offensively.
Per week after the Citrus Bowl, Harsin made it official and introduced Williams because the Tigers’ operating backs coach. When the mud settled and Harsin’s inaugural employees was accomplished, Williams was the lone carryover from the earlier teaching employees.
“With coach Harsin, it actually got here right down to him understanding that I wished to be right here at Auburn and I wished to make that step and that I used to be on board with turning this factor round and shopping for in and being a man that was not going to be larger than Auburn,” Williams mentioned. “As a result of I do know I’ve this ‘Cadillac’ title, however on the finish of the day I’m a humble man. My relationship with these gamers and with this college means (rather a lot) to me; I’m prepared to do all the things I can to get this program again to profitable championships.
“I feel he felt that vibe from me. I feel that’s one thing that made the most important distinction.”
It additionally made the most important impression on Harsin as soon as he formally launched the teaching employees to the gamers in January. That day, as Harsin listened and watched on as Williams reintroduced himself to the workforce, the Tigers’ new head coach may really feel the vitality among the many group and the respect that Williams commanded from the gamers.
“He’s a man that everybody is aware of performed right here, sacrificed, did many issues to be part of the success of this program,” Harsin mentioned. “Clearly (he) went on and performed on the subsequent stage, did an incredible job, however to be again right here getting him again on this program, in that place — and I feel proper now, being round him, simply excited to be part of one thing new.”
Williams is grateful to be again, and his retention on employees was welcome information to star operating again Tank Bigsby. Now that every one that uncertainty from the offseason has been washed away and spring practices are underway, Williams is keen to work alongside Harsin and make a constructive influence on getting this system again to the place he is aware of it may be.
“I feel the sky’s the restrict for Coach Harsin and likewise this employees,” Williams mentioned. “Wow, I feel the long run is vibrant… These guys wish to be pushed. These guys desire a plan in place that they will get on and again to the Auburn profitable methods.”
Tom Inexperienced is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Observe him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.