December 04, 2008

Tommy Tuberville---Gone!

Bold move by Auburn to dump Tommy Tuberville. Not sure where I stand on this one. I can understand where Auburn is coming from, but there is a lot of risk with this move.

On the one hand, I know Auburn fans have been frustrated with Tuberville for years, and this season gave them an opportunity to make a clean break from Tuberville. Tuberville botched this season with the half-baked move to the spread offense, and they got slaughtered by Alabama. I think there was always a lingering feeling down at Auburn that they could do better than Tuberville. Tuberville is a good coach but not a real flashy guy and not a dynamic offensive coach.

On the other hand, he went 85-40 in the SEC!! What do people down there expect??? Do they think Auburn should be winning 10+ games a year in the SEC?? Auburn is a very good program obviously, but look at all the other programs down there. Florida, Bama, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, etc. Auburn is not the best program in the SEC and probably never will be. They are the little brother school in the state of Alabama, which isn't exactly the best state for high school talent in the region. Auburn obviously has great talent, but is their talent so good that they should expect to always beat teams like Florida and LSU?? Cmon.

Here is Tuberville's record year by year:

1999 Auburn 5–6 2–6 5th—West — —
2000 Auburn 9–4 6–3 1st—West L Citrus Bowl 20 18
2001 Auburn 7–5 5–3 2nd—West L Peach Bowl — —
2002 Auburn 9–4 5–3 2nd—West W Capital One Bowl 16 14
2003 Auburn 8–5 5–3 3rd—West W Music City Bowl — —
2004 Auburn 13–0 9–0 1st—West W Sugar Bowl † 2 2
2005 Auburn 9–3 7–1 2nd—West L Capital One Bowl 14 14
2006 Auburn 11–2 6–2 2nd—West W Cotton Bowl 8 9
2007 Auburn 9–4 5–3 2nd—West W Chick-fil-A Bowl 14 15
2008 Auburn 5–7 2–6 4th—West
Auburn: 85–40 52–30

By my count, he went 5-3 in bowl games, won 11+ games twice, won 2 SEC West titles, one SEC championship, produced 6 ranked teams in 10 years at Auburn (including 4 top 15 teams in a row until this past year), and I believe that he went something like 7-3 against Alabama. His typical year was an 8-4/9-3 type season with a bowl win. Should they be building statues of him on campus?? No, of course not. But is someone like Mike Leach going to come into the SEC West and suddenly start cranking out a bunch of top 5 teams?? I'd love to say yes, but I'm not sure I buy it.

At the end of the day, Tuberville produced results fitting for an Auburn head coach. He turned them into one of the top 4-5 programs in the conference during his tenure, and there was a stretch for a few years where you could argue that Auburn was the best program in the conference or at least in the conversation.

I know he had a bad year in 2008, but isn't there something to be said for letting the guy work through his one bad year?? I don't know, I'm not privy to all that was going on at Auburn. Maybe players were packing it in, maybe recruiting was suffering, maybe he had lost the fans. But this move seems like a rush to get him out the door when there isn't really an obvious candidate out there for the job. If this season had happened last year when Bobby Petrino was available, I would have understood it. But are Auburn fans really ready to hitch their wagon to Mike Leach and expect him to carry them to a bunch of SEC West titles and wins over Nick Saban?? Is the spread really what Auburn fans want?? That's not the Auburn football that I know. The power running game with Rudi Johnson and a physical defense Auburn. That's the Auburn I know. Tuberville knew that type of football.

Some of these SEC programs have lost their minds. Know your role. When there are 5 superpower programs in that league, it's tough to dominate that league for any extended period of time. Especially at a school like Auburn that isn't even the most famous program in its own state. I'm not saying you can't win a league title at Auburn. You can when you have the right combination of seniors and talent. There are windows at places like Auburn to be successful, especially if other big names in the league are struggling. But forcing a fairly successful coach out after one losing season seems like a risky move. There's just not a whole lot of upside for Auburn football, but they could certainly spend many years in the doldrums if they botch this next hire. And without an obvious candidate there for them to hire, they could easily blow this hire.

It will certainly be interesting. Maybe the new coach at Auburn will take that program to new heights. I like Auburn football, and I hope it works out for them. I hope that Leach or Muschamp wins bigger than Tuberville did. But as long as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are around, I think Auburn football has a ceiling no matter who the coach is.

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