Coaching change bad for Auburn

Published 11:34 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Apparently the best way to cap a season full of bad decisions was to make just one more.

Last night Auburn University decided the best way to forget about this season’s seven losses was to part company with the man who gave them their last 85 wins.

The problem for Auburn lies in that less than 24 hours ago Tommy Tuberville became the marquee name on the list of coaches who are out of work.

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Dedicated Auburn fans call for Tuberville’s firing every other year. As a lifelong Auburn fan, I watched this season make a few circles around the bowl before actually getting flushed. Still, allowing Tuberville to resign, in my mind, was the last way to fix this.

Despite an abysmal season marked by disappointing losses and embarrassing near-misses, Tuberville managed to retain all of his verbal commitments from high school recruits. Do you think those commitments are solidified now?

I don’t.

Despite his occasional flirtation with greener pastures, Tommy Tuberville was good for Auburn. He wasn’t the world’s greatest recruiter, which was amplified by Nick Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa, but he was lightyears ahead of his predacesor Terry Bowden – someone who was as inept at calling ball games in the press box as he is calling plays on the field.

Who, exactly, does Auburn think they can get that would be any better?

The usual suspects have already been floated around: Steve Spurrier and Bobby Petrinio. I don’t want Petrino’s “For Rent” sign in Auburn anymore than I want Steve Spurrier’s visor. Those names grab headlines but I don’t think they’re reasonable. Wil Muschamp’s name popped up but if they wanted to give the job to him they should have done it two years ago. That ship has sailed.

Another hot name is Texas Tech’s Mike Leach. Leach has made quite a name for himself by building a once awful Red Raider team into a Big 12 contender. He’s had a lot of help. If Tommy Tuberville had Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree on offense, he’d probably still be on the Plains.

In his eight years in Lubbock, Leach has won zero Big 12 titles and only won his division once. In 10 seasons at Auburn, Tuberville has won the conference title once and his division four times. He’s also 1-0 in BCS bowl games, whereas Leach has yet to make an appearance.

You don’t make a move like this without a clear-cut path for progress. It looks like yesterday’s announcement was a case of shoot first, ask questions later.

Don’t be surprised to see the next man in the coach’s chair be an up-and-coming offensive coordinator. Auburn wanted a high-scoring offense this year and didn’t get it. I would imagine the capability to hang 50 points a game on the scoreboard will be a requirement.

That capability lies in Lexington, Kentucky. If Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs hasn’t already called Wildcat offensive coordinator Joker Phillips he’s in worse shape that I ever imagined.