In a move that almost all of the college football world saw coming for the majority of the season, Tommy Tuberville stepped down at Auburn today.
The last time Tuberville was on edging towards the furnace, the Tigers went 13-0 the following season. Unfortunately, there was no escape this season, and there are only so many offensive coordinators you can fire before you end up on the chopping block yourself.
Six of seven losses to end the season? Check. Most SEC losses since 1999? Check. Losing to Vanderbilt for the first time since 1955? Check. Losing at home to a bad Arkansas team? Check. Losing to Alabama for the first time since 2001, and losing badly? Check. Yeah, it wasn’t a good year on the plains, to say the least.
Where will Tuberville end up next? The local news here in north Mississippi is already mentioning his name with the Mississippi State job, but more than a couple of MSU fans who’d feel a little ill about having someone who once roamed the sidelines for their archrival on theirs. Besides that, given Auburn’s recent offensive history, I don’t think that’s a tree that needs to be climbed, or even sniffed.
As for Auburn, Lane Kiffin is off of the board, but they’ve already reportedly reached out to Mike Leach, and guess who else? Bobby Petrino, who had a secret meeting with Auburn‘s president and AD in 2003. I’m sure his offensive genius hasn’t gone anywhere, and neither will he, unless he wants to break a clause in his contract that prohibits him from going to another school in the SEC West.
It’d certainly be interesting to see Leach’s offense at work in the SEC, and he could certainly be available if Texas Tech can’t keep him with a much-warranted contract extension. Auburn’s a much better situation than Washington (the other job he’s been heavily linked with), no doubt about that.
A couple of other interesting names that were mentioned in this piece are Connecticut’s Randy Edsall and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun. Air Force, as is the case with their service academy rivals, is a run-heavy team, and a similar offense (potentially with a little more passing) could be a great fit at Auburn.
Junior-to-be Kodi Burns is still developing as a passer, but he could thrive in an offense where he gets to run a lot more than he throws, and with Auburn seemingly having no shortage of talented backs to hand the ball to, Calhoun’s an option more worth exploring than rehashing their interest in Petrino. The one hitch might be the fact that Calhoun’s at his alma mater and might not be looking to go anywhere anytime soon.
The hire, whether it’s Leach, Calhoun, or someone else, will have to come pretty quickly. Auburn’s 2009 recruiting class is currently ranked #5 by Scout.com, and along with their two dozen current commits, the Tigers are in the running for several more talented prospects.
With Alabama back in the national spotlight and primed to stay there under Nick Saban, LSU likely to bounce back after a down year, and things looking up for Ole Miss with Houston Nutt at the helm, Auburn can’t waste too much time on rebuilding, so this new coach is going to have to get things back on the right track very quickly.