AUBURN, Ala. — Larry Porter has seen a good bit of the United States over the course of his 20-year coaching career.
When Porter finished his senior season as a running back at Memphis in 1993, he started coaching high school football. After that he was on staffs at Tennessee Martin, Arkansas State and Oklahoma State.
The Jackson, Miss., native spent 2005-2009 coaching alongside LSU’s Les Miles, helping the Bayou Bengals win the 2007 BCS national championship. From there he went on to take the head coaching job at his alma mater before making stops at Arizona State, Texas and most recently, North Carolina.
Ultimately it was Porter’s burning desire to be crowned the best for a second time that landed him back in the Southeastern Conference.
“Well, first of all I want another opportunity to win another national championship,” Porter said on his decision to join Gus Malzahn’s staff. “I couldn’t get beyond that, I wanted that opportunity. I feel like here all the pieces are in place to do that, obviously that’s a lot easier said than done, but when it’s done that’s a lot easier to say. That was probably the biggest thing.”
Of course, Porter is quick to point out the strength of other conferences, citing Clemson’s takedown of Alabama in the most recent College Football Playoff championship.
As a coach, he’s stayed out of debates about conference superiority and appreciated enthusiastic fan bases at the schools he’s been.
Still, he believes the SEC may have one particular edge on the field.
SPRING PRACTICE: Why Auburn fans can expect to see different Kerryon Johnson in 2017
“Regardless of what conference I’ve coached in, I’ve always thought the biggest difference with the SEC as compared to really any other conference is those four guys across the defensive front,” Porter said. “I think that’s the biggest difference. I’ve coached in enough leagues to be able to comfortably say that. I know some may disagree, but I mean, across the board from top to bottom, I think that’s kind of where the strength is in this league. To me, at the end of the day, championships are still won by being able to run the ball and play great defense,” Porter said. “So that’s kind of where it starts.”
There were other reasons Porter wanted to be an Auburn Tiger, too.
The longtime running backs coach was eager to showcase his coaching skills as the leader of a different position group. Taking over the Tigers’ tight ends would allow him that opportunity.
Porter, who was recognized as the National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com in 2007 and 2009, also adopted the role of recruiting coordinator for Auburn.
Perhaps the most important thing — even more so than championship hopes, conference or his title — was being around quality people. Porter saw that would be the case if he joined Malzahn’s staff.
“I just want to be around good people,” Porter said. I want to be around a staff and a head coach that allows me to do my job, not that that didn’t happen at the other place with Larry Fedora and that staff was awesome, but this day and age I think everybody has to be in the fox hole with you. When I look at jobs, the number one thing is can you win there and then two, can you be happy coaching in that environment.”
To top it all off, Porter recognized that Auburn was a good fit for his family and a community full of passionate fans.
“You know when you go places, what really makes a place special in my opinion are the people,” Porter said. “I’ve been to enough places to understand that aspect of it. The people that’s in the community here in Auburn are special. Good people. That kind of puts you at ease. Just the spirit of the people in this town has been gratifying. I know that changes in September when the ball’s kicked off. But they’ve been good so far. It’s been good, the people.”