Sunday, November 2, 2008

Buckle up

It's going to start getting ugly for Tommy Tuberville on the Plains. ESPN's Chris Low offers his take on the situation here, proving that this story isn't just statewide any more. Many people now think Tuberville's job is not safe.

As always, there are two sides to this story.

First, the argument to keep Tuberville:

  • Tuberville has clearly built a winner at Auburn. He inherited a mess when he came to Auburn and turned the program into a legitimate power in the SEC.

  • He has an unbelievable record on the road and against top-10 teams. Tuberville has been a giant-killer at Auburn.

  • Before this season, Tuberville had won 50 games in five years -- 10 wins per season.

  • He has won while his players have stayed out of the police blotter. Auburn hasn't faced many major discipline problems since he's been here. Many credit Chette Williams, who Tuberville enlisted, for it.

  • Six consecutive wins over Alabama plus a 4-2 record against Nick Saban.

  • In 2004, he led Auburn to a perfect season and an SEC championship.

  • His buyout is $6 million. In this economy. Seriously, there aren't better ways to spend that money?

Now the argument to fire Tuberville:

  • The Tony Franklin fiasco shows that he does not have a pulse on his own program.

  • Auburn's lack of playmaking skill players and depth is a direct reflection on recruiting. There isn't great potential for some of these players to become dramatically better by next season, either.

  • He has, at best, a strained relationship with The Powers That Be at Auburn.

  • For every big win, there has been an equally big pitfall in every season but 2004. Auburn hasn't played for an SEC title since that year and has won only one conference title in 10 years.

I don't think a decision will become official before the end of the regular season.

After the loss to Ole Miss, I also think only a win over No. 1 Alabama is the best -- and possibly only way -- for Tuberville to ensure himself of another season.


Moving on to today's comments.

Tuberville says injuries are killing his team. Here's Tuberville's list of players who he says are injured and not practicing:

  • DE Michael Goggans (ankle, won't practice until at least Wednesday)

  • DE Antonio Coleman (ankle, "hasn't practiced in about a month")

  • DT Sen'Derrick Marks (both ankles, played just two plays in second half vs. Ole Miss)

  • DT Tez Doolittle (groin, "we weren't going to bring him and then we decided at the last minute to bring him in case of emergency", played 28 plays vs. Ole Miss)

  • DT Mike Blanc (possible broken hand, possibly out for season)

  • LB Tray Blackmon (wrist, out for season)

  • LB Josh Bynes (deep thigh bruise, won't practice until Wednesday)

  • LB Chris Evans (fractured big toe)

  • LB Merrill Johnson (hamstring)

  • LB Craig Stevens ("healthiest LB", turf toe)

  • CB Jerraud Powers (hamstring, out this week)

  • CB Walt McFadden (ankle, knee, won't practice until at least Wednesday)

  • CB Aairon Savage (knee, out for season)

  • CB Neiko Thorpe (ankle, out this week)

  • WR Rod Smith (hip, out this week)

  • OL Byron Isom (concussion, status unknown)

  • RB Ben Tate (hamstring, practicing)

Jeff Lebo, whose basketball teams are always hampered by injuries, would be proud of that list. In fact, Lebo's already got significant injuries to Korvotney Barber, Rasheem Barrett and Frankie Sullivan.

As for Tuberville, he said he's considering burning redshirts on DL Derrick Lykes, who can play inside and outside, and DE Cameron Henderson. There's also a possibility of moving OL Kyle Coulihan back to defense.


Not Born to Run

Tuberville on his run game struggles:

"In the past, we've been able to run the ball 8-9 in the box. We're just not physical enough. Our running backs, we're not hitting the holes north and south. We're running too much lateral. Just little things like that are hurting us. We don't have the one guy at running back that we know we can call his number and they're going to do the perfect thing, like we have in the past.

"We've got a bunch of guys out there that we're alternating in trying to find the right consistency. Mario has probably been the most consistent, along with Ben Tate. The mental things have hurt us in protection. You hate to put one guy in to do one thing and one guy in to do the other. We've got to have a complete package out of one running back."

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