School secretly pursued Louisville's Petrino

Updated: December 1, 2003, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Tommy Tuberville
Tommy Tuberville's team has a chance to clinch the SEC's Western Division.

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.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press