Roy Exum: Auburn’s Newest Mess

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Auburn’s football team is a 2-point favorite over Ole Miss this Saturday but the bigger question in Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend will be how much longer Tigers coach Bryan Harsin will be the head coach. Oh, he’s had a heckuva season all right, ranked 18th in the nation and 5-2 up until now, but when Auburn put a December 6 vaccine mandate on all of its employees, the high-priced coach may not comply … or at least he isn’t saying whether he has taken the jab or not.

You’ll remember that President Joe Biden threw the nation into turmoil last month when he signed an order demanding federal contractors and their employees take the vaccine or lose federal funding.

Auburn has about $200 million reasons to comply with Biden’s demand.

But then there is this: on Monday of this week Alabama Governor Kay Ivey “issued an order directing state agencies (which would include the state-supported universities) not to enforce a federal vaccine mandate scheduled to go into effect Dec. 8 and cooperate with efforts to overturn the requirement.”

At SEC Media Days in late summer, Coach Harsin, in his first year of a six-year $31.5 million contract, would not discuss the vaccine, saying it was a private matter. On August 19, he actually missed 10 days of preseason practice after testing positive for COVID. This week he continued to call the vaccine “personal.”

Auburn hosts a press luncheon for the sports media every Monday and among the first questions at this week’s session was the university’s mandate. “I’m aware of the new policy,” Harsin told reporters. “I appreciate you have to ask the question and understand it, but it doesn’t change - I mean, the executive order, all those things, it doesn’t change the fact I’m not going to discuss any individual’s decision or status on the vaccine or anyone else’s, including my own, like I said before.”

Harsin, who would lose millions if fired for ‘just cause,’ added, “From the beginning, I think I’ve made it clear that that wasn’t something that I was going to talk about or discuss,” the coach repeated. “I wasn’t going to go down that road and don’t feel like right now that’s any different. We’re focused on Ole Miss. We’re focused on the things we have to do to get prepared for this week. There’s a lot of other things right now that we have to make sure we’re ready for on this football team. That’s what I’ve got to stay focused on with our players and our staff and the people in this program. So, we’ve had those conversations, but that doesn’t change what I said before.”

Interestingly, Auburn officials say they will consider an employee as “tested” if the person completes the drug regimen at least two weeks prior to the Dec. 8 deadline. This means either two doses of Moderna or Pfizer – or one dose of Johnson and Johnson vaccine must be taken no later than Nov. 24 – three days before Auburn will host Alabama in the South’s premier rivalry. And remember there is a one-month wait between Moderna doses which would come into play. (Pfizer has a three-week window and – remember -- Nov. 1 is this Monday.)

Already the mandate has cost jobs across America. Washington State fired head football coach Nick Rolovich and four assistant coaches last week after they refused to get vaccinated following an order by Washington Governor Jay Inslee that requiring all state employees and healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee has already fired noncompliant workers and there is purportedly a mandate at Chattanooga’s CHI Memorial Hospital with a Nov. 1 deadline.

The fact Harsin seems untroubled may be an indicator he has taken the vaccine. And he’s right when he says he’s got other things to worry about. No. 10 Ole Miss (6-1 with sensational QB Matt Corral) is the immediate threat this Saturday at 7 p.m. and next week the Tigers will visit No. 14 Texas A&M in the SEC’s wild and wooly Western Division. Auburn faces Miss. State and visits South Carolina in mid-November before hosting the ever-fabulous Iron Bowl Nov. 27 to end the regular season.

* * *


From Fox News: Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn rolled out a measure Tuesday that would protect essential workers from being fired due to federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates, making them exempt from President Biden's executive order, amid layoffs and resignations from workers across different industries due to their unwillingness to receive a coronavirus vaccine. The legislation, titled "Keeping Our COVID-19 Heroes Employed Act," is co-sponsored by Republican Senators Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Bill Haggerty of Tennessee, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Mike Braun of Indiana, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. (Tuberville is a former Auburn football coach.)

* * *


A group of workers at a Decatur, Ala. rocket plant are protesting the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, saying their religious and medical exemption requests are being denied. WAFF is reporting that some employees of United Launch Alliance are protesting the mandate, which calls for businesses that employ more than 100 workers to require vaccination or have employees submit to regular testing. Hunter Creger, who has worked as a federal contractor with ULA for the last two years, told the station that his religious exemption as a Catholic was denied.

“I’m sick and tired of being walked on,” Creger said. “I’m an American, my family has fought for this country. It feels like a birth right has been taken from me. I’ve put in a lot of really hard work at this company, and I really enjoy what I do. This is my dream job, and I’m being fired over something that has nothing to do with my merit.”

* * *


 FROM CNBC -- Worried that President Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine mandate for private companies could cause a mass exodus of employees, business groups are pleading with the White House to delay the rule until after the holiday season. White House officials at the Office of Management and Budget held dozens of meetings with labor unions, industry lobbyists and private individuals last week as the administration conducts its final review of the mandate, which will require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure they are vaccinated against Covid or tested weekly for the virus. It is estimated to cover roughly two-thirds of the private sector workforce. OMB officials have several meetings lined up Monday and Tuesday with groups representing dentists, trucking companies, staffing companies and realtors, among others.

Roy Exum: Judge Slaps Mandates

Roy Exum: Georgia Picked By 6½

Don't Be Fooled

A federal judge in Missouri administered a healthy dose of common sense to the mandate-threatened hospital industry on Monday. Judge Matthew Schelp issued an order blocking the Biden administration ... (click for more)

So help me, I can hear the legendary Bear Bryant telling his players: “Bingo, we got Georgia right where we want ‘em, They are cocky, fat and sassy … all we got to do is keep our wits about us ... (click for more)

Recently conservative columnist Byron York explained how “transforming America” has become the Democrats’ favorite mantra. He credited Bernie Sanders with starting that mantra which has been ... (click for more)


Roy Exum: Judge Slaps Mandates

A federal judge in Missouri administered a healthy dose of common sense to the mandate-threatened hospital industry on Monday. Judge Matthew Schelp issued an order blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine mandate on some health workers in 10 states. The group of states, collectively, sought relief on a mandate that threatens to use withholding Medicare and Medicaid ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Georgia Picked By 6½

So help me, I can hear the legendary Bear Bryant telling his players: “Bingo, we got Georgia right where we want ‘em, They are cocky, fat and sassy … all we got to do is keep our wits about us and do the things we know we can do. I know we can do it. Now, let’s get ready to play Georgia the game of their lives …” The trouble is Coach Bryant died almost 40 years ago and this week, ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Woman In Semi-Comatose State After Incident In Which 4 Pedestrians Were Struck At Main, Broad

An officer testified on Wednesday that a woman is in a semi-comatose state who was among four pedestrians hit in an incident at Broad and Main on Oct. 8. Officer Ryan Lynn said the woman "is not cognitive and is responsive only to painful stimulation." He said she has been moved to a custodial care facility and "rehabilitation has pretty much stopped." He said her husband, ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Has 1 More COVID Death And 81 New Cases

The Hamilton County Health Department reported one more coronavirus death on Wednesday and 81 new positive cases, down from 128 on Tuesday. The total number of cases in the county now stands at 65,614. The death total is 680 people. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 66 in Hamilton County - down from 68 on Tuesday. Six more are hospitalized with suspected COVID. There ... (click for more)


Mocs Have Big 2nd Half To Win At Tennessee Tech

The UTC Mocs had a big second-half comeback to defeat Tennessee Tech on the road on Tuesday night. Chattanooga trailed at the half, but ended up winning 82-65. Tennessee Tech started with a 10-2 run and led by as much as 13 points at 28-15 with 8:32 to play in the first half. The Mocs closed the gap towards the end of the first period, hitting a bucket with under five seconds ... (click for more)

Chandler Ties Steals Record As Vols Top Presbyterian, 86-44

Kennedy Chandler tied a program record with seven steals as No. 13 Tennessee downed Presbyterian, 86-44, Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena. In another record-book highlight, sophomore Justin Powell became only the ninth Vol in program history to shoot 100 percent from 3-point range when firing at least five attempts. Tennessee (5-1) was propelled by 14-of-27 (.519) ... (click for more)