- Chris Low, ESPN Senior Staff Writer
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Auburn's experiment with the spread offense didn't last even a season, as first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was abruptly fired Wednesday.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday he's not satisfied with progress being made on offense and felt it was best to make a change.
Tuberville told The Associated Press that Franklin's dismissal is "not going to change our philosophy. This is a good offense. Our guys like it. They understand it. They're getting better at it."
He said he will take a larger role in working with the offense the rest of the season.
Franklin was Tuberville's fifth offensive coordinator in the past 10 years and was hired just prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December. Tuberville felt the offense had become stagnant under former coordinator Al Borges and was looking to go in another direction.
Heading into the Arkansas game this Saturday, Tuberville is looking again.
"It hurts. It hurts bad," Tuberville said after practice Wednesday. "That's a difficult situation and a difficult thing to do in the middle
of the season. My responsibility is this football team and it always will be. Tony is a good person, a good guy. He's got a great family, and he's a good family man. Basically when it all comes down to it, it's about production. I didn't think the last few weeks we were making any progress. I came to the decision this morning that we would make that change. We're going to go forward. We are going to be positive about it and we'll go from here."
Even though his background is on defense, Tuberville plans to take a more active role in the Tigers' offense the rest of the way. They've scored just five offensive touchdowns in four SEC games and are tied for last nationally with Washington State in plays that have gone for negative yardage (57).
Following the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday, several players openly questioned the direction of the offense.
The next day, Tuberville tried to defuse some of the talk out there and emphasized that it was no time to panic. He added that Franklin was his coordinator and would be the guy in charge of finding some answers to the Tigers' offensive struggles.
That all changed Wednesday afternoon when Tuberville relieved Franklin of his coaching duties.
Tuberville insisted there were no personal conflicts that precipitated the change Wednesday after endorsing Franklin as his offensive coordinator just a day earlier.
"Tony and I have always gotten along well together," he said. "Basically it comes down to production. We have played four conferences games and we just haven't done that well. I had to look at it. It had nothing to do with X's and O's. He's a heck of a football coach. It was about getting it done on the practice field and to the game field. We are all responsible for that."
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.