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App State Completes 2019 Football Coaching Staff with Hire of Charlie Harbison

Charlie Harbison

By Tim Gardner

Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz has announced the last hire of his inaugural 2019 coaching staff.

Drinkwitz tweeted on Saturday that Charlie Harbison would join the Mountaineers as a defensive assistant.  Harbison is the tenth and final hire for this season.

Harbison played college football at Gardner–Webb (University) for four seasons. In 1982, he signed as a free agent with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills. He later played two seasons with the Boston/New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League (USFL).

Harbison began a long coaching career in 1984 that has included tenures as an assistant at one small-level university, seven major universities, two high schools, one minor league system team, one arena league team and most recently with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

He coached defensive backs at Gardner-Webb in 1984 and 1985. He next worked at East Lincoln High School in Denver, NC for one season (1988).  Harbison was defensive coordinator with the Charlotte Barons in 1990, when they went 11-1 and won the Minor League championship.

Harbison coached at Lincolnton, NC High in 1991.

He coached wide receivers at Gardner-Webb in 1992 and 1993.  He also worked in 1993 as defensive coordinator with the Charlotte Rage Arena League team. 

Harbison was defensive backs coach at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) in 1994.  He then worked at Clemson in the same post for three years (1995-1997).  

His next stop was a three-year tenure (1998-2000) as wide receivers coach at Alabama.  He was part of the 1999 Alabama team that won the Southeastern Conference Western Division title, defeated Florida in the league’s championship game and played Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Harbison then worked two years at Louisiana State University (LSU) as defensive backs coach in 2001 and 2002. He was a member of the Tiger coaching staff that directed the 2001 team to an SEC Championship Game win over Tennessee.  During his two years there, LSU finished 18-8 overall and played in the 2002 Sugar and 2003 Cotton Bowls. 

Harbison returned to Alabama for a four-year stint (2003-2006), coaching wide receivers. He next served as Mississippi State’s defensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008.  He then returned to Clemson, serving as its defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 2009-2012.  Harbison’s next job came as defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Auburn in 2013 and 2014.  

The 2013 season saw one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in college football history. Only a year after a winless record in SEC play—the Auburn Tigers, with Harbison on their staff, won their eighth league title, 59-42 over Missouri.  Auburn then played Florida State for the national championship, losing 34-31. The Tigers finished with a record of 12–2 (7–1 in SEC play).

Harbison was defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Appalachian State’s Sun Belt Conference rival, Louisiana–Lafayette from 2015 through 2017.  

He has been a part of teams that have made 20 bowl appearances.

Harbison was an assistant defensive backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018. 

The Shelby, NC native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gardner–Webb University in 1995. He is married to the former Tammy McCluney.  Harbison’s first wife, Gloria, passed away in early 2003 after battling cancer.

Harbison has four children (Charlie, Stedman, Masai and Msiba).