Auburn AD shocked by Tuberville choice
Posted: Friday, December 5, 2008 4:55 pm
By: By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville’s job was not in jeopardy when he decided to step down and he declined several requests from his bosses to reconsider, athletic director Jay Jacobs said Thursday.
Jacobs said Tuberville’s departure after 10 mostly successful seasons was “completely his decision” and that the coach would be leading the Tigers next season if he had not chosen to leave.
“To say the least, I was a little shocked,” the AD said. “But after three times of asking him would he change his mind, he convinced me that the best thing for him and his family and for this football program was for him to possibly take a year off and take a step back.
“I asked him three times (to reconsider), and so did the president,” he said.
Jacobs said he and the president agreed to pay Tuberville the buyout price of $5.1 million — even though it was not required since he wasn’t fired — because they felt it was “the right thing to do.”
Tuberville resigned Wednesday afternoon during the third day of meetings with Jacobs and at times university president Jay Gogue, following the Tigers’ 5-7 season, the worst of his tenure.
Tuberville did not appear at Jacobs’ news conference and did not immediately return a phone message.
Auburn has hired the consultant firm CARR Sports Associates, Inc. to assist in the search, but Jacobs said “to my knowledge” no university representative has contacted any potential candidates regarding the job.
Auburn’s wish list reportedly could include Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, Louisiana Tech’s Derek Dooley, Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino and current coaches-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher of Florida State and Will Muschamp at Texas. Jacobs said he had a list of potential candidates and didn’t rule out hiring current assistants.
The cost of hiring a replacement has escalated in recent seasons. Southeastern Conference Western Division rivals Nick Saban at Alabama and LSU’s Les Miles are both making in the $4 million range.
Tuberville’s annual salary averaged $3.3 million. Jacobs said Tuberville will be paid the $5.1 million from athletic department funds.
Saban was critical of coaches’ tenuous job security in the wake of Tuberville’s departure. The top-ranked Crimson Tide beat four teams whose coaches have since been fired or resigned: Clemson (Tommy Bowden), Tennessee (Phillip Fulmer), Mississippi State (Sylvester Croom) and now Tuberville.
“So I guess we’re 5-7 away from the same thing,” Saban said.
Jacobs said he offered Tuberville a chance to leave for another job without having to pay a buyout to the university, but that the coach said there was no other job.
Tuberville’s contract did not require that he be paid a buyout if he resigned.
But Jacobs said that because of Turbeville’s willingness and assurances that he wants to continue to be a member of the Auburn family made it the right thing to do.
He didn’t set a timetable for making a hire but said the search would be “as efficient ase going to be thorough,” Jacobs said. “We’re going to be strategic and we’re going to hire the best person for Auburn, regardberville met with the players briefly Wednesday evening to tell them he was leaving. Cornerback Jerraud Powers said they were sional side of it took heart of it. We all got together and prayed one last time and that was it.”
Jacobs said assistant cotion of their contract and gave them the option to stay on and help with the recruiting process. It wasn’t clear how many wouldville had been ordered to fire members of his staff, Jacobs said: “No, not at all. He wasn’t given any mandates at all.”
he program back on track. It was to include how the coach planned to get Auburn competing again for SEC and national championsh