Appreciating Tommy Tuberville
I don't have any inside information behind Tommy Tuberville's decision Tuesday after coaching Auburn for the past 10 seasons, but I suspect he would have been fired eventually if he hadn't resigned.
The official story is that Tuberville decided to resign despite being asked repeatedly to stay by AU Athletic Director Jay Jacobs. He has a history of saying one thing and then doing another – "They'll have to carry me out of (Mississippi) in a pine box" and "I still have the fire to coach."
And just a week ago Tuberville said he believed he could turn around the AU football program after a disappointing 5-6 season that included an embarrassing 36-0 loss to Alabama last Saturday. I thought he deserved another season to prove he could hire a proficient offensive coordinator and allow a promising but raw Kodi Burns to develop at quarterback.
It still surprises me that Tuberville, who went 85-40 at the Plains, stayed at Auburn beyond the 2004 season after what happened in 2003 when the school president and athletic director secretly tried to hire then-Louisville coach Bobby Petrino.
I'm a Crimson Tide fan, so I wasn't thrilled when the Tigers went 13-0 in 2004, and it didn't upset me that they were left out of the national title game. In retrospect, I think it will go down as one of those what-if seasons, similar to the 1966 season for an Alabama squad that finished undefeated, but didn't win its third straight national title. Nobody knows if Auburn would have beaten No. 1 USC, but the Tigers would have been much more competitive than No. 2 Oklahoma, which was drilled 55-19 by the Trojans.
You would think that a coach with an undefeated season, a conference and national coach of the year awards, a 7-3 record against its archrival, four SEC West division titles, eight bowl appearances and only two losing seasons – 1999 and 2008 – would be appreciated, but for some reason Tuberville has been on the hot seat throughout his tenure at Auburn.
It's hard to feel sorry for a guy that will be paid $5.1 million dollars not to coach, but I think Auburn has a very tough task in replacing Tuberville. I can't think of single coach available that comes close to his caliber, and I don't see Will Muschamp leaving his head-job-in-waiting at Texas for a place that either couldn't or wouldn't keep a coach that is a proven winner in the SEC.