Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin continued to round out his coaching staff, announcing the hires of four more assistant coaches: Zac Ethridge as the cornerbacks coach, Brad Larrondo as the Associate AD and football chief of staff, Brad Bedell as tight ends coach, and Jeff Schmedding as inside linebackers coach and defensive run game coordinator.
Etheridge, a team captain on Auburn’s 2010 national championship team, was named the Tigers’ cornerbacks coach, Friday. Etheridge spent the previous two seasons in the same capacity at the University of Houston.
At Houston, Etheridge mentored cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Damarion Williams, who thrived under his direction. Jones was named an All-American in 2020 at cornerback by Pro Football Focus (PFF) and was an All-American selection as a punt return specialist by the FWAA, CBS/247 Sports and the Phil Steele Magazine. Jones also was graded as one of the top-5 corners in 2020 by PFF. Under two seasons of Etheridge's tutelage, Williams blossomed into an all-conference player in 2020, starting 19 consecutive games for the Cougars.
“Zac Etheridge is a rising star in this profession and is a great addition to Coach Mason’s defense working with cornerbacks,” Harsin said. “He has done a fantastic job in a short period of time developing and recruiting talented players. As a former Auburn standout, Zac understands the rigors of competing at the highest level, and what is required to be an Auburn man.”
Etheridge played a key role in Houston's improvement on defense in 2020, as the Cougars finished fourth in the American Athletic Conference in total defense (398.5 yards per game). Houston's defense also saw improvements from 2019 to 2020 in passing yards allowed, third down conversion defense percentage and tackles for loss.
This past December he was selected to the American Football Coaches Association 2021 35 Under 35 Coaches Leadership Institute. The prestigious program is aimed at identifying and developing premier, future leaders in the football coaching profession and is part of the AFCA Convention.
“It is an honor to return to my alma mater as a member of Coach Harsin’s staff,” Etheridge said. “I firmly believe in his vision and I am excited to get to work. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that our staff will develop our young men both on and off the field. We will absolutely embody the championship mindset that Auburn deserves. Auburn and its people mean a great deal to me, and I am very thankful for this opportunity. War Eagle!”
A member of the Boise State athletic department since 1993, Larrondo served in a similar role with the Broncos since 2012.
“The Auburn family is getting a high caliber football administrator and builder of teams and culture in Brad Larrondo,” Harsin said. “Even more important, this program is getting a tremendous person of high character in Brad who values real connection, extreme follow through and the overall student-athlete and staff experience. His position is vitally important to the championship program we are creating day by day here at Auburn.”
At Boise State, Larrondo was the primary sport liaison to the Director of Athletics for football, while also serving in a chief of staff role under the head coach. Named a Senior Associate Athletic Director and Football Chief of Staff in July 2019, he was the athletic department's primary football contact and the liaison for the head coach, assisting with oversight of the football support staff.
“The opportunity provided by Coach Harsin and Allen Greene is one that I am extremely grateful for and will work tirelessly every day to uphold the elite standards of Auburn football and Auburn athletics,” Larrondo said. “Auburn University speaks of excellence in all phases, and being a part of the Auburn family is something I know will be a life changing personal and professional experience.”
Bedell spent the past four seasons as Boise State’s offensive line coach, including run game coordinator last season. A former All-American at Colorado, Bedell spent six seasons in the NFL prior to joining the coaching ranks.
“Tight end play is a critical part of our offensive attack and Coach Bedell brings a unique perspective to what we want to do with that position group,” Harsin said. “Brad has coached with me at a couple different places and is a relationship driven coach with six years of NFL playing experience, making him an exceptional recruiter. His versatility as a coach and strong recruiting ability make him a great fit for the Auburn football family.”
In four seasons at Boise State, Bedell’s offensive line had nine players garner 13 All-Mountain West honors, including five first team honors. Three Bronco linemen earned all-conference honors in 2020.
Schmedding spent the past two seasons on Harsin’s staff at Boise State as the defensive coordinator (play caller) for the Broncos.
“When you look at the defenses Coach Schmedding coordinated in Boise, they were championship caliber, so I know the work ethic and preparation he brings every single day,” Harsin said. “He is a veteran presence on this staff that makes others around him better. The versatility he brings with the linebackers and connecting the attacking middle of our Auburn defense will complement the vision of Coach Mason as a whole.”
After coaching Boise State’s outside linebackers in 2019, he took over inside linebackers for the 2020 campaign. Schmedding’s first season leading the defense was a strong one for the Broncos as they claimed the Mountain West championship with a 12-2 record and 8-0 mark in conference play. The Boise defense put together an impressive year, finishing in the top 15 nationally in team sacks (37) and in the top 25 nationally in scoring defense (20.6 ppg).