Charlie Harbison, an experienced coach and highly regarded recruiter who has spent the last 18 years coaching in the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast Conferences, has been named co-defensive coordinator at Auburn, head coach Gus Malzahn announced Sunday. Harbison, who will coach defensive backs while serving as Ellis Johnson's right-hand man on defense, spent the previous four seasons in a similar capacity at Clemson.
"Charlie is an outstanding coach and recruiter and we're excited to have him join our staff," Malzahn said. "He's very familiar with Coach Ellis Johnson, having coached together on two different staffs, which will be a tremendous asset to our defense. He is a true professional and one of the class guys in college coaching."
Harbison and Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson worked together at Alabama in 2000 and at Mississippi State in 2007.
Named one of nation's top 25 recruiters by Rivals in 2010, Harbison helped Clemson to back-to-back 10-win seasons, including the 2011 ACC Championship, the program's first in 20 years. This season, Clemson was 10-2 after a 10-4 mark in 2011 and an Orange Bowl appearance.
"I'm looking forward to joining Coach Gus Malzahn's staff at Auburn," Harbison said. "Having coached against Auburn on several occasions, I'm very familiar with the great success and tradition associated with the program. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family."
Harbison coached cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, who had 14 passes defended in 2011 and was drafted by the Tennessee Titans.
His secondary was ranked in the top 26 in the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2009 and 2010, while coaching first-team All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel in 2009 and 2010. McDaniel led the ACC and was tied for third in the nation in interceptions (8) in 2009.
He helped Clemson to a top-25 ranking and the ACC Atlantic Division title in 2009. Clemson had 21 interceptions, fifth-most in Tiger history and tied for fifth-most in the nation. Clemson was seventh in the nation in passing defense.
Prior to his tenure at Clemson, Harbison spent two seasons at Mississippi State (2007-08). After just one season, he was elevated to defensive coordinator, while also coaching safeties. The Bulldogs were seventh in the nation in pass defense and 20th in the nation in pass efficiency defense in 2007.
Harbison had a pair of coaching stints at the University of Alabama from 1998-2000 and 2003-06. He coached the Crimson Tide wide receivers during second stint, helping UA to a 26-24 overall record, including three bowl berths.
During that four-year stretch, Harbison helped receivers D. J. Hall, Antonio Carter, and Triandos Luke rank among the school's all-time top 10 pass-catchers. Two of Hall's single-season receiving totals were among the best ever at the school. Following the 2005 season, he was honored as one of the nation's top 25 college football recruiters by Rivals.com.
Harbison coached defensive backs in his initial stay from 1998-2000. He helped Alabama to the 1999 Southeastern Conference title and appearances in the 1998 Music City and 2000 Orange Bowls. Two of his pupils, Fernando Bryant in 1999 and Tony Dixon in 2001, were taken in the first and second rounds of the National Football League draft.
Between the Alabama assignments, Harbison coached the defensive backfield at LSU in 2001 and '02. He was a member of the Tiger coaching staff that directed the 2001 LSU team to the SEC title. During his two years, LSU finished 18-8 overall and played in the 2002 Sugar and 2003 Cotton Bowls. Corey Webster, who played under Harbison his first two years in Baton Rouge, finished second on the school's all-time pass interception list.
Prior to his first stint at Alabama, Harbison served as the defensive backs coach at Clemson from 1995-97. The Tigers posted a 22-14 mark during those three years, ending those seasons in the Gator and back-to-back Peach Bowls. One of his pupils was nine-time Pro Bowl selection Brian Dawkins. He was an All-American and led the ACC in interceptions in Harbison's first year at Clemson (1995).
Harbison also coached the secondary at UTEP (1994) and served twice at his alma mater, Gardner-Webb, coaching wide receivers (1992-93) and defensive backs (1984-85). In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, he worked in both the Arena Football League and the World League of American Football. His professional football coaching resume includes serving as defensive coordinator for the Charlotte Rage (1993).
A native of Shelby, N.C., Harbison graduated from Gardner-Webb College in 1995. A two-sport star in football and track on the college level, he was a free-agent signee of the Buffalo Bills following his senior season.
He is married to the former Tammy McCluney; they have four children, Charlie, Stedman, Masai, and Msiba.