Who is Eric Kiesau, Auburn's new receivers coach?


Bryan Harsin has been harping on the execution issues of Auburn’s wide receivers since the spring. Apparently, the extensiveness of the position group's problems was dire.

Harsin on Sunday afternoon fired his receivers coach, Cornelius Williams, four games into the job, sources close to the situation told Auburn Undercover. The move was made for performance-related reasons, as Auburn’s receiving corps has been one of the weakest links of the team in the young stages of the season.

Auburn lead offensive analyst and former Boise State offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau is taking over the role of receivers coach for Harsin, Auburn Undercover learned Sunday. Kiesau joined Auburn’s support staff in February and was by Williams’ side helping to coach receivers in practice since the spring.

A former quarterback at Portland State, Kiesau’s coaching career began in 2000 at Utah State, where he spent two seasons as running backs coach, then receivers coach. He then found a home at Cal, where he spent the next four years coaching receivers under head coach Jeff Tedford. At Cal, Kiesau mentored two of the top five most productive wideouts in program history: Geoff McArthur and Desean Jackson.

Kiesau parlayed his successful stint as an assistant into an offensive coordinator position at Colorado in 2009, where Kiesau was on the same staff with current Auburn strength coach Jeff Pitman.

Kiesau coached just two seasons with the Buffs before he was replaced by Eric Bieniemy, now one of the most proven OCs in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kiesau went back to Cal for one year, reprising his role as receivers coach.

Then-Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian plucked Kiesau as his offensive coordinator in 2012. The Huskies had the second-best total offense in the Pac-12 under his direction in 2013 — led by one of Kiesau’s pupils, now-NFL receiver Jaydon Mickens — but Kiesau was left behind when Sarkisian took the job at USC. He made a quick stop in 2014 coaching receivers at Kansas, where he was also tabbed with the role of interim offensive coordinator for the Jayhawks’ last five games.

For the second straight season, Kiesau was not retained when a new head coach was hired in 2015 (David Beaty). He took on a reduced role as an analyst at Alabama in 2015, winning a national championship as part of Nick Saban’s staff.

The jumpstart at Alabama made Kiesau a desirable name again, as Fresno State hired him as its offensive coordinator in 2016. The program fired head coach Tim DeRuyter with four games left in the regular season and tabbed Kiesau as its interim head coach. The Bulldogs went 0-4 under Kiesau to end the year.

That’s where Harsin came in and added Kiesau to his Boise State staff in 2017 to coach receivers. Kiesau was the Broncos’ co-offensive coordinator in 2019 before becoming Harsin’s full-time OC and quarterbacks coach in 2020.

Kiesau mentored three different All-Mountain West receivers in as many seasons coaching the position for Harsin.

In his career, he’s held the title of receivers coach for 14 years, and has experience as an offensive assistant in some capacity at seven different programs.

Williams in January signed a two-year, $600,000 contract with Auburn, according to a copy of the deal provided to Auburn Undercover in March via an open records request. Per the terms of his contract, Williams is owed the remainder of his pay through a buyout by Auburn, though the figure will be mitigated by the salary of whatever coaching job Williams takes next.

Williams, 33, spent the previous six seasons as Troy, his alma mater, as receivers coach. A graduate of Hoover High School, Williams also has coaching stops at UAB, Jacksonville State, Murray State and UNA.

*** Subscribe to Auburn Undercover for the latest news and intel, podcasts, recruiting coverage and more ***

*** Get Auburn news straight to your inbox with the Auburn Undercover newsletter ***