Bryan Harsin passionately doubled down on his commitment to being Auburn's head football coach and to his players Thursday despite his future seemingly hanging in the balance nearly three months ago amid a university-directed inquiry into the program.

"The simplest, strongest statement to come out of all this was what I said at the time, that it was bulls---, and I still feel like that," Harsin told ESPN during a lengthy interview.

"Everything we were going through -- these players, this program, the attacks on my character and my family -- was bulls---. Let's be clear on that. We're not folding our tent whatsoever. We'll fight, and we'll keep doing it. That's not going to change. We're fighting for the kids on this team. They're worth fighting for."

Auburn announced on Feb. 11 that Harsin would return as coach after he remained in limbo for eight days as news surfaced that the university had been scrutinizing the exodus of players and assistant coaches that accompanied Harsin's first season at Auburn, which ended with a 6-7 record and five straight losses.

Auburn lost its regular-season finale to rival Alabama at home in a 24-22 heartbreaker in four overtimes. The Tigers led 10-0 entering the fourth quarter, but the Crimson Tide drove 97 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds to force the first overtime and ultimately win the game.

Harsin, asked if there would have been any question about his coaching future had Auburn held onto that fourth-quarter lead against Alabama, smiled and said, "Yeah, good question. I don't know."

Even as the inquiry was ongoing and reports swirled about Harsin's job status, he said he nor his agent ever had any talks with Auburn about a financial settlement. Harsin would have been owed an $18.3 million buyout, a figure that only drops to the $15 million range if he were to be fired following the 2022 season without cause.