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School secretly pursued Louisville's Petrino

12/1/2003 - Auburn Tigers
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AUBURN, Ala. -- Tommy Tuberville has decided to stay as
Auburn's head football coach despite an attempt by the university
president and athletic director to line up a replacement before the
Iron Bowl.

"I'm looking forward to being around here for a long time,"
Tuberville said Monday.

Tuberville had to stop and regain his composure at one point
during his news conference and admitted, "It's been a long two
weeks."

Tuberville is 37-24 in five seasons at Auburn with at least a
share of three SEC Western Division titles, but the team failed to
meet expectations this season. He met earlier Monday with school
president William Walker and athletic director David Housel.

Walker admitted last week that he had put Tuberville in an
"awkward situation" and hoped the coach would choose to remain at
the school.

"It was a good meeting," Tuberville said, adding that he holds
"no ill feelings for anybody."

In February, Tuberville had signed a new five-year contract worth $1.5 million annually, with incentives that could push his yearly salary past $2 million.

His decision came as the university tried to put closure on a
turbulent week in which Walker and Housel admitted to a secret
meeting with Louisville coach Bobby Petrino just two days before
Auburn played archrival Alabama on Nov. 22.

"Everybody has shed a lot of tears, and right or wrong,
everybody's learned from this," Tuberville said.

"Dr. Walker said he made a major mistake, and we talked about
it," he said. "We're all in this together. When you win, you win
together, and when you lose, you lose together."

Auburn won the game 28-23, Tuberville's second straight victory
over Alabama. But the Tigers finished a disappointing 7-5 season
after starting the year sixth in the poll.

"I know people will use this against us in recruiting, but they
better be recruiting hard because they're going to be recruiting
against me," he said.

Walker, who left Auburn early last week for a Thanksgiving
vacation, met with Tuberville in private Monday.

The president disclosed last week that he, Housel and trustees
Byron Franklin and Earlon McWhorter flew to Louisville to discuss
the Auburn job with Petrino on Nov. 20 -- without telling
Louisville's president or athletic director.

Most of Auburn's trustees, including Gov. Bob Riley, also were
unaware of the trip, prompting Riley and others to express their
displeasure with Walker and Housel's actions.

Housel called the meeting with Petrino "a process of evaluation
that went awry."

In an apology to Petrino, Louisville and Tuberville on
Wednesday, Walker said he "solicited opinions from a wide variety
of individuals more knowledgeable about the game than I."

Walker added that he hoped Tuberville will remain Auburn's
coach.