When is a victory not a victory? When your embattled head coach needs a miracle to come out with more points than an opponent regarded by some as the worst in the Southeastern Conference, one that comes in on Homecoming and basically outplays you from the 2nd quarter on.

Notice I didn’t say that Auburn won the game on Saturday. They ended up with more points than did Missouri, but they didn’t win the game. No, Missouri lost it; more than once.

A gift-wrapped victory on Homecoming against one of the lesser teams in the SEC did nothing to improve Bryan Harsin’s standing as Auburn’s head coach. His fate is more than likely already assured. He looked like a coach on the sideline who was  fully aware of that inevitability.

He appeared almost apologetic on the sidelines after the “victory.” A golf clap was about the extent of his excitement after Missouri’s running back fumbled in overtime, through no impetus from an Auburn defender, inches from a game-winning touchdown and instead resulting in a game-losing touchback.

Harsin, it appears, is going through the motions at this point, his tenure likely 3 weeks remaining. That’s when Auburn has its bye week. That’s when a move becomes a real possibility, if it doesn’t come sooner. The Auburn-LSU game is next Saturday. It’s a matchup that has resulted in a coaching change in the past.

But it’s just a matter of timing at this point. Harsin would need an even bigger miracle than he got on Saturday in order to remain the Tigers’ head coach beyond the 2022 season. The next 3 games before the bye – home against LSU, at Georgia and at Ole Miss – aren’t winnable with a performance like the one on Saturday.

Is there a program with a less impressive 3-1, 1-0 record? While wins against Mercer, San Jose State and now Missouri are nice, the only team with a pulse the Tigers have faced (Penn State) beat the them by 29 points at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It feels weird to say after a victory, but it doesn’t get better from here. In addition to the entirety of the SEC West still left on the schedule, the Tigers also have the trip to Georgia. There aren’t any games left, with the exception of Western Kentucky, in which the Tigers can fall back on the chance that if they can’t win it, the other team will lose it.

For one quarter on Saturday, there was false hope. The Tigers manhandled Missouri at the line of scrimmage and ran all over their visitors for a 14-0 lead. But when the visitors made adjustments, Harsin and his staff had no answers.

Obviously, not having experienced quarterbacks TJ Finley and Zach Calzada available was a limitation. But to struggle after Missouri’s 1st-quarter adjustments is concerning.

Or maybe it’s too late to even be concerned at this point.

Maybe all that’s left is to play out the string and wait for the hammer to fall. That’s the impression I get from Harsin on the sideline. Oh, there’s no doubt he wants to win. But it’s become apparent that even he knows that – win or lose – his days on the Plains are probably numbered.

The only thing worse than the result on Saturday would have been if the Tigers had been on the other side of the 17-14 score. Still, it almost feels like they were. To steal an old baseball quote: “There’s no joy in Mudville.”

Did they even bother to roll Toomer’s Corner?