Unsure of his future, Tuberville maintains he can get things turned around
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville rose from a restless night after an embarrassing Iron Bowl loss and commenced trying to convince recruits to stick with the Tigers.
In the meantime, Tuberville awaits resolution of his own future at Auburn.
The Tigers' worst season in 10 years ended with a 36-0 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday that served to brutally emphasize Auburn's shortcomings, particularly on offense.
Tuberville then hit the road for recruiting and said he didn't know when he would meet with University President Jay Gogue and athletic director Jay Jacobs on his job status.
"I've got a contract here. I'm working," Tuberville said. "There's no doubt that we can get this thing turned back around. I didn't turn into a bad coach overnight. I know this program better than anybody.
"I know what it takes. I know the type of people that you can get to come in. I know our strengths and weaknesses. And I'm fully committed to doing it. I'm going out and selling that."
Tuberville will have to emphasize his long-term track record and hope a 5-7 season full of things out of his control (injuries) and well within it (a disastrous offensive change) won't cancel that out.
He is 7-3 in the Iron Bowl.
"I've been through 10 Iron Bowls and three times I've woken up the next day after really not sleeping much," Tuberville said.
He said he will try to bring in more offensive playmakers and would consider making changes to his coaching staff beyond a new offensive coordinator.
Tuberville had won 50 games the previous five seasons, including a 13-0 team in 2004 team that wound up ranked No. 2.
Tuberville denied a report in The Birmingham News Sunday that indicated Jacobs had told him in the middle of last week that he would be retained.
"No, I have no clue where that came from," the coach said. He signed a two-year contract extension through 2013 after last season that would pay him about $3.3 million annually. The current buyout would be some $6 million. Jacobs declined an interview request from The Associated Press.
Tuberville said he planned to meet first with "four or five" recruits who had expressed concerns about his future at Auburn. The Tigers have already received 26 verbal commitments.
But they lost six of their last seven games and the drubbing at Alabama was the most lopsided in the rivalry since 1962.
Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers and other players said the team wanted Tuberville to remain.
"We're behind coach Tuberville 100 percent," Powers said. "Right now, he's our coach. We can't control what other people think, but we want coach Tubs here. He's done a lot of great things. He's won a lot of big games. He's won a lot of games here. I don't think this season should affect his future.
"He's not playing. We're the players. We're the ones playing every week, so we take the blame more than he'll take it, so I think he should stay."
The very move that had raised expectations for the season and helped make the Tigers the preseason SEC West favorites contributed to its undoing. Tuberville said the problems created by the switch to a spread offense under coordinator Tony Franklin was "totally my fault" and acknowledged that it put the Tigers in a tough situation.
He fired Franklin in midseason and Auburn went 1-5 afterward.
The Tigers' offense finished the season ranked 110th nationally in scoring, 102nd in total yards and 100th in passing yards. The finale was the first time Auburn had been shut out in 75 games, dating back to a 23-0 loss to Southern California to open the 2003 season.
Tuberville said he might not hire a new offensive coordinator until January.
"We haven't had a very consistent offense in a long time," Tuberville said. "We've had some offensive coordinators come and go. And they've left for different reasons.
"This time we're going to get somebody that understands this program. You have to understand your situation and what kind of offense you can run with the type of players you can get. We've got a pretty good handle on that."
Tuberville also stressed the importance of finding some offensive playmakers to surround quarterback Kodi Burns.
Ben Tate was the leading rusher with 664 yards, the lowest total for the team's top runner since 2001. All of the receivers who had more than eight catches averaged less than 12 yards per catch and Burns had only two touchdown passes after starting the season alternating with Chris Todd.
"We're going to be able to run it, we're going to be able to throw it," Tuberville said. "We've got to be able to sell young people to come in here that can be big-play guys, which we haven't had many of. And we've got to be able to do that."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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