Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Marks going to the NFL

Sen'Derrick Marks has made his decision. Auburn has made it official.

The junior defensive tackle will try his luck in the NFL. He'll speak to the media at noon on Tuesday to discuss his decision.

Marks previously said he would trust coaches about whether or not he should go pro, but currently, there are just two defensive coaches on staff. Marks has also been projected as a first-round draft pick.

He finished with 10.5 tackles for loss last year despite being hampered by injuries for half the season.

Marks could be followed by fellow Mobile native Antonio Coleman. The defensive end has scheduled his own press conference Saturday at 3 p.m. at Mobile's Williamson High School, where Coleman attended.
If both Marks and Coleman elect to leave, it would be a major hit for whoever takes over the Auburn defense next season.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What they said

Here are some excerpts from the Gus Malzahn press conference:

"I'm excited to take over the offense and just like coach says, we're going to be a run, play-action team. I know a lot of people categorize me as a spread team, and if you really look back at my history, we're going to play smashmouth football. We're going to set up the pass with the run, and I really think the difference is with most run/play-action teams from what we're going to do is we're going to throw the ball vertically down the field and we're going to do that quite often."
On his versatility: "If you look at the last three years, our offenses have been just a little bit different each year. And the reason being, is adapting to your strengths. So that's what I'm in the process of doing now."
Offensive strategy: "You won't see a whole lot of straight drop-back pass. It's just not who we're going to be. We're going to run downhill. We're going to have a physical, hard-nosed approach. I'm not talking about just the offensive line and just the backs. I'm talking about the receivers and quarterbacks, and I think that's very important to establish that early."
On Tony Franklin: "I'm not very familiar with him. I've never met him. I'm not very familiar with his system and can't tell you much about it."
On SEC experience: "I really think anytime you have experience in league, it does nothing but help you. It was a great experience for me. I got a chance to get familiar with some of the defensive coordinators and the speed of the game."
On the Auburn job: "This situation was ideal for me, and like I said earlier, just an opportunity to represent the university here is real important. When you look from an offensive coordinator's standpoint, this is kind of one of those dream jobs or dream fits for me personally."
On how he will split his job responsibilities for the next eight days: "We’re going to work until late tonight, trying to get as much information as I can targeting our main recruits. Going to go back to Tulsa tomorrow and have practice, probably get through with that around 6. Then that evening I’m going to go back to work recruiting, making calls. And kind of do that until Jan. 2 when we actually fly to Mobile and kind of the same routine all the way through and then as soon as the bowl game’s over with, I’ll be full time here."
On how he'll address the team: "When I first get a chance to address them as a group, we'll definitely put up exactly who we are. We'll put up our goals. I'm into explaining everything we're going to do. We're going to work hard. I understand they've been through a lot. We'll have a good, sound plan. We will have extremely high goals. I think that's very important. We're going to achieve them and we're going to achieve them in a hurry."

"One of the guys I was very adamant about was Gus. So it’s really been kind of a neat deal for us just to watch it unfold."
"Everybody wants to know how successful has your offensive coordinator been wherever he’s been. Philosophically, we’ve got to be on the same page with what I felt is important for Auburn. As I said from Day One when I took this job, when it comes to our offense, I feel like in this league, we’ve got to start with the running game and that’s very important to me. As Gus and I talked through this process, it was very evident to me that I had the right guy in (that) way."
"Now, obviously, it’s not just about running the football. It’s about moving the football. I wanted an offense that was going to be very productive in every way – an offense that moves the football and scores points. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters."
What impressed Chizik: "As a defensive coach, as a defensive background, when you watch other people on film you're always looking for offensive philosophies that give defenses problems. I was very impressed every time that I was able to see some Tulsa film."
Re Malzahn having a say in offensive staff: "Staff chemistry to me is paramount. And I think anybody who is in the coaching profession can tell you that. Certainly it's no different here. Gus and I have already discussed some different guys, so we're going to be on the same page on that. As we spoke earlier today, I want the transition for Gus, I want it to be as comfortable and as natural as it can be, so I don't think that you can strong arm anybody in there."

Staff answers becoming clear

Admit it: You were starting to wonder, perhaps even worry, about Auburn coach Gene Chizik's ability to assemble a coaching staff.
After all, Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels apparently publicly rejected the position (through Georgia coach Mark Richt) before anyone had officially been appointed to the staff.
To make matters worse, Chizik rehired James Willis 11 days after he told Willis and the rest of the Tommy Tuberville holdovers to scram.
It was starting to look bad -- not because Willis is a bad coach (he isn't), but because Willis was already on staff and had been told to get lost only to get hired nearly two weeks later.
Then, you might have turned on the Emerald Bowl and watched Patrick Nix' offense show the complete and utter inability to run the 2-minute drill during both the second and fourth quarter.
Nix, of course, was rumored to be a candidate for the Auburn offensive coordinator vacancy.
This, you might have thought to yourself, could be a total disaster.
Not even a day later, Chizik made the biggest splash of his young tenure as Auburn's head coach when he hired Tulsa coordinator Gus Malzahn to run his offense.
There are still plenty of positions to fill on the Aubur staff. Still, there's hope again for Auburn fans.
For now, anyway.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Malzahn hired

Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is bringing his high-tempo, no-huddle offense to Auburn.
Sound familiar?
This should be widely considered a success since Malzahn has run successful offenses at both Arkansas and Tulsa. However, Malzahn does have a tradition of running a variation of a spread offense. Auburn fans don't need to be reminded how the spread offense worked last season.
At Tulsa, Malzahn's offense finished No. 2 in both scoring and total offense. The Golden Hurricane averaged 565 total yards per game and 47.2 points per game in 2008.
Tulsa will play Ball State in the GMAC Bowl in Mobile.
Auburn sent out a release minutes ago.
“This is an exciting opportunity to coach at Auburn, get involvedwith the Auburn family and work for Coach (Gene) Chizik,” Malzahn said through the release. “I can’t wait to get to Auburn and get started.”
“Gus is one of the great offensive minds in college football and weare very excited to having him join the Auburn staff,” Chizik said through the same release. “His track record at all levels of coaching is remarkable and his offenses have been extremely successful both running and passing theball. It’s truly impressive that he oversees an offense that is inthe top 10 nationally in all five major offensive statistical categories. We’re looking forward to having Gus on board.”

Friday, December 26, 2008

Willis retained

It's been 13 days since Auburn officially hired Gene Chizik as its next head football coach.
Finally, Chizik has an assistant coach. And it's a familiar name -- James Willis.
When Chizik met the staff on Dec. 14, he told each coach to find different jobs. Willis, who has been Auburn's linebackers coach for three seasons, was renamed to the Auburn coaching staff on Friday.
Auburn announced that Willis, along with football support members Kevin Yoxall, Jimmy Perry, Phillip Lolley and Rev. Chette Williams, have all been retained on staff. Yoxall, Lolley and Williams have been at Auburn since 1999. Perry joined the staff in 2000.
Yoxall is the strength and conditioning coach, Perry is the director of football operations, Lolley is the director of NFL relations and Williams is the team chaplain.
Willis became the first assistant coach on Chizik's staff. He has been known as a strong recruiter, especially in Mobile and was one of several of Tommy Tuberville's assistants who stayed on to recruit after Tuberville resigned.
Willis' prize recruit, quarterback Raymond Cotton, withdrew his commitment to Auburn after Chizik's decision not to retain Willis.
“James is a tremendous coach and an outstanding recruiter,” Chizik said through a University-released statement. “I had the opportunity to work with him while I was defensive coordinator at Auburn and it was apparent to me then, that James was going to be very successful at this level. He is a high-energy coachthat relates well with the student-athletes.”
Willis worked under Chizik as a student assistant and as a graduate assistant during two of Chizik's three years as the Tigers defensive coordinator.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Borges finds work

Just a brief note here: Former Auburn offensive coordinator Al Borges might have found a new gig. The San Diego Union-Tribune has reported that an (unnamed) source has indicated Borges will serve in the same capacity at San Diego State.

Borges would work under former Ball State coach Brady Hoke, who took the head-coaching position at SDSU.

Before going to SDSU, Borges served as Auburn's coordinator from 2004-07. The Tigers offense ranked at the top of the SEC during the undefeated 2004 season and repeated the feat in 2005 despite losing quarterback Jason Campbell and tailbacks Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams to the NFL Draft.

Borges resigned from the offensive coordinator position in 2007 after Auburn's offense strugged significantly inside the red zone.

Auburn's offense was even worse in 2008.

Borges has experience on the West Coast, having worked at Oregon, UCLA and California.
His wife, Nikki Borges, currently serves as an administrator inside Auburn's athletics department.

Happy Holidays

All is silent on the Plains these days. Auburn coach Gene Chizik should start filling out his coaching staff shortly after Christmas, but there's no announcement expected beforehand.
I am enjoying the holidays in Shreveport, La., where I have some family. If anything happens between now and when I return to Auburn, you will be able to read it here first and in the paper tomorrow. Aside from that, though, I look forward to taking a few days and enjoy some family time before getting back in the daily rush.
I wish you and yours a fantastic holiday season and I look forward to your continued readership in the coming year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Wanna trade?

Exactly a week after Auburn officially hired former Iowa State coach Gene Chizik as its new head coach, ISU hired AU defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads as its head coach.
Rhoads spent last year as Auburn's defensive coordinator. Previously, Rhoads was Pittsburgh's coordinator for eight years.
This hire is, in a word: exceptional.
Rhoads is smart, personable and knows a ton about football. He's also an Iowa native. ISU really made a strong hire here.
The real question is which school got the better end of this deal?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Building the staff comes second

This seems like a great riddle. What came first: The coaches or the players?
Well, Auburn coach Gene Chizik isn't exactly saying he's choosing players over coaches -- not with the pending end of recruiting contact period. Still, his choice has been very obvious since he met with the media on Monday.
Chizik wanted to hit the ground recruiting, and that's exactly what he's done.
As for the coaching staff... Well, that will have to wait until next week.
Mobile Press-Register ace Evan Woodbery (you can read his blog here) transcribed what Chizik said today on Birmingham-based radio station JOX:

As we talked about the game of chess, you've always got to have a plan, you're always staying three or four steps ahead, and I am that way right now with our staff.

The decision I had to make when I took the job is do I put all my time into creating a staff, knowing I already know basically what direction I'm headed, or do I go out there and find out who my recruits are? Obviously, one right now is much more important than the other, and that's getting out and seeing who these kids are and getting in the door.

The staff is going to be there. Many of them know the direction that I want to go. When we get done with this -- I'm going to be fighting and battling and scrapping for the next two days. When that slows down, then we'll go in the next direction and that is to start putting together the best Auburn staff that we can put together.

I feel real good about it. Obviously I can't divulge exactly what direction we're going to go in. But I can tell the Auburn people that it will be an extremely good staff.
What's interesting, though not surprising, is that Chizik has finally acknowledged that he knows essentially how he'll fill his staff.
One member, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, is already getting interest from Auburn.
That man: Georgia OL coach Stacy Searels. (EDIT)

That's the buzz around the Plains right now.
Check back later.

UPDATE: The Dothan Eagle's expert beat writer, Drew Champlin, has stayed on top of rumors that Chizik and Auburn might have interest in receivers coach Shane Wasden. So far, Troy and coach Larry Blakeney have not officially heard from Auburn or Chizik.
You can read more here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday evening update

Tonight's updates come from the great state of Texas.
We'll start with more rumors getting shot down. Tonight's rumor: Offensive coordinator No. 3 apparently out of the mix.
UAB coach Neil Callaway officially took himself out of the running when he told The Birmingham News that he has zero interest in taking a demotion to run Auburn's offense. Pat Dye, on Wednesday's edition of The Paul Finebaum Show, said Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown would not become the next offensive coordinator, either.
That seemingly set the door from message board favorite, Texas coordinator Greg Davis. Uh... not so much.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik is blazing the recruiting trails right now, but dead period begins again soon. After that, Chizik might put more emphasis on filling his entirely vacant coaching staff.

Moving on to recruiting. DE Nick Fairley and LB Eltoro Freeman are apparently already in the fold.
If The Dallas Morning News columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor has his way, the other recruits will band together and boycott Auburn because of the preceived racial bias.
Auburn has taken a major PR hit for the supposed racial bias. There have been a few defenders, however, like Jason Whitlock, who opines that Turner Gill would have been a poor fit on the Plains.
While I disagree with Whitlock's premise (I think Gill will be a very strong hire wherever he goes and his first stop has proven that), it bears mentioning that there are a few media members that are standing up for Auburn instead of napalming the University.

Dye speaks about potential coaches

Former Auburn coach Pat Dye has said he wouldn’t make any staff recommendations to Chizik.
He must have meant he wouldn’t do so directly.

During an explosive interview on The Paul Finebaum Show, Dye mentioned several names for a potential coaching staff.

Here they are:
Ole Miss assistant EDIT: Tracy Rocker
Georgia assistant Rodney Garner
Georgia assistant Stacy Searles
Troy assistant Shane Wasden
South Alabama assistant Dameyune Craig

“If you’re going to coach at Auburn and you’ve got coaches and, everything being equal, I think it would be smart to have someone that loves Auburn. I think that would be a tremendous advantage. And then bring in whoever you want to bring in. But all of that is Gene Chizik’s decision. It ain’t mine. I ain’t recommended anybody to him to hire. Not one soul.”

Bottom line: Don't be surprised if one, two or several of these names turn up on Auburn's staff next season.

This was not the explosive part of the interview, obviously. That can be found here on The HABOTN, run by The Montgomery Advertiser ace reporter, Jay G. Tate.

In other news today, The Opelika-Auburn News ace Andrew Gribble caught up with Auburn president Jay Gogue for the first time since Gene Chizik was named coach.

As for me, I caught up on recruiting today as well as taking in a less-than-inspired effort from the men's basketball team. Then again, Auburn did hold Tuskegee to a Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum historic low in points total. Still, it was hard to come away impressed with the Tigers -- and especially the Golden Tigers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The departures begin...

They start, as my colleague Al Muskewitz reported, with punter Patrick Tatum. Tatum, who was a part-time punter for the Tigers last year, will play for Jacksonville State next season.
There are several others who have been at least rumored to play elsewhere next year, but Tatum is the first to make it official.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Green to Senior Bowl

Tyronne Green will play in the Senior Bowl, Auburn University announced today. The game will be played Jan. 24 in Mobile at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

What they're saying...

Since Auburn released its own "What they're saying..." about the Gene Chizik hire, I figured I would do the same.
Here's a rundown of what some ESPN personalities had to say:
Kirk Herbstreit: "I happen to know Gene Chizik very, very well and I think it's an outstanding hire."
Colin Cowherd: "I know Turner Gill took arguably the worst program in the country in Buffalo -- three years later, MAC champion. That is remarkable. That to me, is a big buzz. That to me, especially in the Southeastern Conference -- African-American coach -- is real progress, and really smart. I, personally, couldn't hire a guy who was 5-19 over the last two seasons... It's hard to argue this hire being reasonable. Sorry, just is. When Charles Barkley says that race was a factor, hard to argue."
Mike Greenberg: "This is one of the strangest hires in mankind... It's just a startling, startling decision, I think, on the part of the University."
Mike Tirico: "If you look only at his record, it's an unbelievably poor hire, but we know the guy -- we understand him and we believe he's going to be a good head coach, so it makes sense to us."
Scott Van Pelt: "I said this with Tommy Tuberville: If you're going to make a move, you need to make sure you're going to have someone who's going to be better and you need to have them locked up before you make this move... Let me give you some common denominators: San Diego State went 2-10; Miami of Ohio went 2-10. You know what they did to their coaches? They fired them. Iowa State, they didn't have to fire their coach because Auburn came in and said, 'That's our guy.' How in the heck do you identify a guy who went 2-10 and doesn't win a conference game as 'The Guy'?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chizik in, Everyone else out

New Auburn coach Gene Chizik had two orders of business once his plane touched down in Auburn last night.
He met with the players and challenged them to return to the level of their 2004 predecessors.
He also met with the assistant coaches and told them to seek other employment.
The assistant coaches who stuck around were seen packing up their offices and preparing to leave the athletic complex on Monday morning.
A good portion of the recruiting class might be leaving with them including star QB recruit Raymond Cotton.
AuburnSports.com already reported that Cotton's father, Raymond Cotton Sr., was not happy with the hire. Here is a quote, courtesy of AuburnSports.com:

"I know about Chizik's good background with Auburn, but I look at Auburn as being on the same level with the Floridas and Georgias, a top 10 school in the country. It's a big-time program," said Cotton, Sr. Monday. "And then we go out and hire a guy that has five wins over the last couple of years. That definitely brings some concern. I don't know if there is a lot of confidence there from me as a father. As a parent, my comment is Auburn did nothing to prove to me they want to be a winner."

More to come later on the coaching staff, once we hear from Chizik himself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chizik arrives

A day after a barrage of negative response to Auburn's decision to hire Gene Chizik, a couple hundred cheering fans made their way to the Auburn/Opelika Robert G. Pitts Airport to greet the new coach.
Chizik was greeted warmly by Auburn fans at the airport before he offered a few words to the media.
Here's what he had to say:

“First of all, I am very, very overwhelmed. I’m back home. What can I say? I’m back home. I feel very blessed. My family, myself, this is a dream come true for us. And this is going to brief, but I’ll tell you this – these people of Auburn University and the Auburn family is what I got into coaching for. And I left it with a dream to one day come back to it, and today I’m living that dream and I want to thank you guys. And War Eagle.”

Chizik is scheduled to meet with the players at 8 p.m. tonight.

EDIT: Auburn mayor Bill Hamm gave Chizik a key to the city once he arrived.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On The Hunt: Coaching Edition Ep. 7 (Season finale)

Sorry I haven't been able to update. I've been working on the content for the web site and running at the airport.
It's done. Gene Chizik is the next head coach at Auburn.
Here's a sneak peak at tomorrow's story:

AUBURN – Gene Chizik is officially Auburn’s new head football coach
The announcement, made official by Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard late Saturday evening, provided the end to a 10-day coaching search that lacked star power from Day 1.
A few hours after Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs denied there was a deal in place on Saturday, Pollard sent out a press release confirming that Chizik will take over the Auburn program.
“Gene (Chizik) confirmed for me today that he is accepting the head coaching position at Auburn,” Pollard said through a statement. “I’m disappointed for our Iowa State fans and student-athletes that he has chosen to leave our program after only two seasons. I understand that it (Auburn) is a dream job for him, but the timing and the way it played out has been hurtful and disappointing. Although this is a significant set back, we will get through the challenge because the Iowa State University athletics program is far greater than one person.”
Chizik, who was Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2002-04, compiled a 5-19 record in two seasons as Iowa State’s head coach. The Cyclones went 2-10 last year and lost their last 10 games.
The 2008 season wasn’t a banner year for Chizik in any way.
Iowa State, which didn’t play Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech last year, lost by an average of 17 points per game. Chizik, a former defensive coordinator, watched his defense allow 35.8 points per game last season.
His buyout at Iowa State is $750,000. Internet message boards have been almost entirely pessimistic about the hire.

There you have it. The search is over.
On a sad note, I have a feeling On The Hunt: Coaching Edition will return for another season.
How do you feel about it?

Is Chizik in?

Auburn Undercover and Rivals.com (not AuburnSports.com) are reporting that the Chizik deal is done. I have been unable to verify those reports. As soon as I can one way or the other, I will.

UPDATE: AuburnSports.com is now reporting the Tom Dienhart story is correct. Dienhart was the first to report Chizik in as the next Auburn coach. I'm still waiting confirmation before I declare it over.

Chizik likely in as head coach

The Opelika-Auburn News and Phillip Marshall of Auburn Undercover are reporting that Auburn is in the final stages of wrapping up Iowa State coach Gene Chizik to become the next football coach at Auburn.
More to come as soon as possible...

EDIT: Is there white smoke?
Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley has officially pulled his name out of the running. As my colleague Evan Woodbury said, that's usually a sign...

Friday, December 12, 2008

More coaching drop-outs

After sidestepping direct questions Monday night at the Montgomery Quarterback Club meeting, Florida State head coach designate Jimbo Fisher finally ended all speculation on Friday: He is not a candidate for the Auburn job.
Fisher told The Orlando Sentinel that he is "staying here at Florida State."
Fisher was asked directly about whether or not he would listen to offers from Auburn. Instead of saying he would not listen, he insisted that he was happy at Florida State.
Fisher's comments on Friday were far more conclusive.
“You offend people when you say never,” Fisher said. “I mean, whether it’s 20 years down the road. Those things always come back to bite you.”
Reporters were asking Fisher about the current coaching vacancy on Monday night, not asking about hypothetical situations that might occur 20 years from now.
Fisher became the second coach to officially pull himself out of the running, with TCU's Gary Patterson being the other.
Auburn's list of interviews is still rather long, but candidates are starting to abandon ship. It's getting to a point where Auburn needs to identify its primary target and make a move before more coaches go on record as saying they're not interested.
Even if those coaches didn't have a chance at the job, it still looks bad that they are the ones apparently spurning Auburn instead of the other way around.
And, as the cliche goes, at some point, perception is reality.
Auburn's reality is that this search has already gone on for nine days and if it gets through the weekend there's no telling how many more coaches might drop out.

ESPN's Chris Low: Auburn search "a circus"

Here's a link: http://myespn.go.com/blogs/sec/0-3-93/Auburn-s-coach-search-has-become-a-circus.html

Of greatest significance, Low reports that TCU coach Gary Patterson is no longer interested in the position.

EDIT: Wake Forest SID Steve Shutt said the University would not comment on published reports that Auburn was to interview Jim Grobe today.

On The Hunt: Head Coaching Edition ep. 4

Jim Grobe, come on down!!! You're the next contestant on The Coach is Right!
According to The Birmingham News, Auburn will interview Grobe today.
Grobe is 53-44 in nine career seasons as head coach at Wake Forest.
AuburnUndercover.com also reported that a former Auburn defensive coordinator interviewed for the job in Texas last night. No, not Will Muschamp. Instead, it was Iowa State coach Gene Chizik.
Chizik has not had much success in his first head-coaching stop. He is 5-19 in two seasons. If AUU is correct, let's chalk this one up to another courtesy interview...
Lastly, congratulations to both WSFA TV-Montomgery and FOX 10 of Mobile for proving once again that TV stations are as credible as ever in their "scoops."
Let me start by saying I have some friends in the field. I know there are good journalists and there is good reporting in TV. "Professionals" acting as they did yesterday, however, gives everyone in the field a black eye.
WSFA reported during its evening newscast that Auburn may be close to offering the job to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. It cited a person within the coaching industry. That could have meant Steve Spurrier Jr. told WSFA that, but the truth is probably far closer to a PeeWee coach telling a reporter that Spurrier was coming to town. And "close" to offering the job? "Close?" Seriously? Great work, WSFA. You're really raising the bar for journalistic standards everywhere.
FOX 10's miscue, however, dwarfed those of WSFA. It's as if the two had a competition to see which one could lose more credibility in a single night. FOX 10 reported that Will Muschamp would be named Auburn's head coach on Friday -- much to Muschamp's surprise. Kudos to ESPN's SportsCenter for picking the story up and running with it.
Muschamp denied those reports late last night. He did so again to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution today.
Great work, guys and gals. Keep up the work and, again, congratulations on your ridiculously unprofessional shenanigans. You were the first to report those stories, and, APPARENTLY, that's all that matters.

EDIT: Thank you to AuburnSports.com's Bryan Mathews for passing along Muschamp's statement today.
Here it is:
"I have not interviewed for any jobs. I'm not interested in any jobs. I'm happy here, my family loves Austin and I'm going to be at Texas."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Airport adventure

Several beat reporters, including myself, saw Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs, associate ADs Tim Jackson and Mark Richard and former player/color commentator Quentin Riggins coming off a chartered plane that returned from Fort Worth, Texas this evening.
The plane landed at approximately 5:45 p.m. Someone believed to be an airport attendant got in a car and drove it to within the plane's wingspan. The group got off the plane and all got into a dealership SUV without acknowledging the media, creating what my colleague Andrew Gribble (of The Opelika-Auburn News) termed a "unnecessarily dramatic exit."
The SUV exited the airport through a side exit. Minutes later, the SUV drove back to the airport where Riggins and Richard were dropped off right next to their cars. They got directly into their cars, but Riggins offered a "no comment" on the situation.
Though TCU officials have not confirmed that Auburn received permission to speak with coach Gary Patterson, this is more than a strong indicator that Auburn did, in fact, interview him today as ESPN first reported.

Tuberville's resignation letter

Props to The Opelika-Auburn News and ace reporter Andrew Gribble for landing a copy of former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's letter of resignation.
Here it is, in its entirety:

Mr. Jay Jacobs
Director of Intercollegiate AthleticsAthletics Complex
Dear Jay:
This letter will confirm our recent conversations about my status as Head Football Coach. After long consideration, I have decided to resign. I understand that, notwithstanding my resignation, the University will make a total payment of $5,083,334 as outlined in Section 21 of my contract. I also understand that the structure and timing of the payments may be modified by mutual agreement.
I deeply appreciate the opportunity to serve as Head Coach at Auburn and will continue to support Auburn’s Athletic Program in any way I can.

Tommy Tuberville

Holtz out of Syracuse contention

An East Carolina official confirmed that ECU coach Skip Holtz has taken his name out of the running for the vacant Syracuse job. Holtz and Buffalo coach Turner Gill were thought to be two of the leading candidates for the position.

The official did not have any information about whether or not Holtz met with or had heard from Auburn officials.

More information as it unfolds...

EDIT: The same ECU official just confirmed Auburn has not contacted ECU to speak with Holtz.
The university also released a statement today about Holtz withdrawing his name from Syracuse contention.
Here's the release:

GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina Head Football Coach Skip Holtz announced Thursday that he has withdrawn his name from consideration and declined further discussions regarding the head football coaching position at Syracuse University.

Holtz, who led the Pirates to a 27-24 victory over Tulsa to earn the program's first Conference USA Championship Saturday, provided closure to the situation prior to a scheduled AutoZone Liberty Bowl press conference in Memphis Thursday afternoon.

"While it is always flattering for others to have an interest in your abilities, I simply am too focused on our preparations for the bowl game and many other of our short and long-term goals to fairly evaluate what I feel is a promising situation at Syracuse." Holtz said. "I appreciate Syracuse's interest but that certainly is a direct reflection on what our players, coaches and the
Pirate Nation have been able to accomplish, especially through a season that featured so much adversity."

Holtz has directed East Carolina to a 9-4 record in 2008, the program's highest single-season win total since 1999. The Pirates will meet Southeastern Conference-member Kentucky in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Jan. 2 vying for their 10th victory, which would be a first for ECU in a season since the 1991 campaign.


Holtz will speak in a few minutes for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl press conference.

It he says anything interesting, you will read it here shortly.

On The Hunt: Head Coaching Edition ep. 3

Yet another new name has surfaced.
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, Auburn has interviewed or will interview TCU coach Gary Patterson today.
Patterson seemed like a probable candidate when this began last week, but his name hadn't surfaced since Tommy Tuberville resigned.
Also of note: reports suggest that ECU coach Skip Holtz will decline the vacant head-coaching position. That's important because Buffalo coach Turner Gill is believed to be another of the finalists.
No word yet on whether or not Holtz is a candidate at Auburn, but if Gill is offered the job, Auburn would have to quickly decide whether or not it wants him. A source close to Gill said Auburn has not contacted Gill since the interview, making the UB coach question whether or not the University is interested in him.
It's again worth mentioning, sources are telling me this will be a big weekend for Jimbo Fisher. If Fisher isn't in the mix by the end of the weekend, he likely is not a serious candidate.
One source tells me that Auburn wants this process wrapped up within the next 10 days.
That's fine by this reporter, who would very much like to spend Christmas (just 14 days away) with family.

On The Hunt: Head Coaching Edition ep. 2

We're now officially more than a week into the coaching search and Auburn is seemingly no closer to hiring a coach today than it was at this time last week.
That, The Birmingham News' Ray Melick says, could be disastrous.
Two of the coaching candidates, Tulsa's Todd Graham and Ball State's Brady Hoke, were asked about their contact with Auburn when the two coaches were in Mobile for a GMAC press conference.
Hoke came out and said he's interested. Graham didn't say as much. While he said he was flattered, The Tulsa World reported he apparently wasn't pleased to field the questions.
One of my colleagues, The Florence TimesDaily's Ryan Sonner, stumped for Buffalo coach Turner Gill to receive the Auburn job. Apparently, Skip Holtz will get the Syracuse offer, meaning Gill is still on the market. Buffalo AD Warde Manuel told the AP that Syracuse and Auburn are the only two schools with permission to speak with Gill.
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is no longer conducting business in New York, instead taking the interview carousel on the road. Where that road leads is currently unknown.
Don't be surprised if Jimbo Fisher re-enters the picture in a big way over the weekend.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also warns: Don't be surprised to hear a few big names soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting to know the candidates: Derek Dooley

A new candidate has reportedly emerged in Auburn’s head-coaching search. _Here’s a look at Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley:

NAME: Derek Dooley
POSITION: Head coach, athletics director at Louisiana Tech
IN THE NEWS: Dooley was thought to be a serious candidate for the open head-coaching position at Mississippi State, but removed himself from the running.
Last week, Dooley released a statement that took him out of the running for the Mississippi State job.
“There has been speculation that I am entertaining other head coaching jobs,” Dooley said through a statement. “I have not been interviewed or contacted by anyone at another university, and I have no intentions of leaving Louisiana Tech. My family and I are very happy in Ruston, and we look forward to continuing to build on the success that our program has achieved in a short time.”
However, The Birmingham News reported Tuesday that Dooley interviewed with Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs about Auburn’s job.
Louisiana Tech originally sent out the same release on Tuesday when word broke about Dooley interviewing.
Later in the evening, though, the University sent out another release.
“Obviously, representatives from Auburn spoke with many people around the annual National Football Foundation event,” Dooley said through the statement. “I was one of the many but any further comment on this matter would be inappropriate at this time.”
Dooley does not deny that he interviewed for the job in the newest statement.
BACKGROUND: Dooley, son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley, has compiled a 15-22 record during three seasons.
He is coming off his first winning season at Louisiana Tech, guiding the Bulldogs to a 7-5 record including a win over SEC opponent Mississippi State. Dooley also led Louisiana Tech to the Independence Bowl – the program’s third bowl trip in 20 years.
Dooley has worked with Alabama head coach Nick Saban for seven total years – two years as a Miami Dolphins assistant coach and five years as an LSU assistant coach.

– Luke Brietzke

Getting to know the candidates: Todd Graham

A new candidate has reportedly emerged in Auburn’s head-coaching search. Here’s a look at Tulsa head coach Todd Graham:

NAME: Todd Graham
POSITION: Head coach, Tulsa
IN THE NEWS: According to The Birmingham News, Graham interviewed with Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs on Tuesday.
BACKGROUND: Like many of the reported and confirmed interviewees, experience is not one of Graham’s strengths. He has only been a head coach for three years – two with Tulsa and one with Rice.
He has, however, compiled a 25-13 record that includes an 18-7 record at Tulsa. In his only year with Rice, Graham led the Owls to their first bowl appearance in 45 years.
Graham also led Tulsa to the Conference USA Championship Game both years and will guide the Golden Hurricane to its second bowl trip in as many years.
Before becoming a head coach, Graham served as an assistant coach at Tulsa under Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Graham also worked as an assistant coach at West Virginia under Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
Graham was a high school coach from 1988-2000. He was NAIA All-America as a defensive back at East Central (Okla.) before becoming a coach.

– Luke Brietzke

Out of the game

Former Auburn offensive line coach Hugh Nall is officially out of coaching. Now, he's the COO at Southern AG Carriers, Inc.
Here's the story.

In other news, Tulsa head coach Todd Graham has emerged as a candidate for Auburn's vacant head coach position, so says The Birmingham News.
Graham runs a high-powered offense (led by former Arkansas OC Gus Mulzahn) and led the Golden Hurricane to a Conference USA Championship Game appearance.
This is just his EDIT: third year as a head coach, but he has already enjoyed great success.
He has also served as an assistant coach at West Virginia under Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
Graham has no experience recruiting in the South, but has won big since inheriting a talented Tulsa program.
Fair or not, it will probably reflect on Graham that his predecessor at Tulsa, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe, has flopped with the Cardinals.

Graham and Ball State coach (and alleged Auburn interviewee) Brady Hoke will both speak at today's GMAC Bowl press conference.
Think anyone from Auburn will be in attendance?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I received word today that Jim Grobe has not been contacted by Auburn. That's not to say he won't be contacted, but we are nearly a week into Auburn's coaching search. It seems they would have contacted him by now, doesn't it?

Dooley update

In a new released statement, Dooley confirmed that he spoke with Auburn officials.
He stops short, though, of admitting to interviewing with Auburn. He certainly doesn't eliminate that possibility.
Here's the statement:

“Obviously, representatives from Auburn spoke with many people around the annual National Football Foundation event. I was one of the many but any further comment on this matter would be inappropriate at this time.” -- Louisiana Tech head coach/AD Derek Dooley

It's worth repeating that The Birmingham News has reported that Dooley interviewed with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs. I've been unable to confirm that, but it seems very likely that Dooley did, in fact, interview for the job.

Dooley not interested?

As you read earlier, The Birmingham News reported that Auburn AD Jay Jacobs interviewed Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley.
If that's the case, Louisiana Tech isn't admitting as much.
The Star recently received a release issued by the university:

“There has been speculation that I am entertaining other head coaching jobs. I have not been interviewed or contacted by anyone at another university, and I have no intentions of leaving Louisiana Tech. My family and I are very happy in Ruston, and we look forward to continuing to build on the success that our program has achieved in a short time.” -- Derek Dooley, Louisiana Tech Head Coach/Athletic Director

Make of this what you will...

Dooley interviews

The Birmingham News is reporting that Auburn interviewed Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley for its vacant head-coaching job.
Dooley denied interest in the Mississippi State job, but has not given such a statement for the Auburn job.
Dooley has coached under Nick Saban and is former Georgia coach Vince Dooley's son.

Coaching search, Day 6

Lots of news, let's get to it.

A source close to Turner Gill confirmed the Buffalo head coach interviewed with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs on Monday in New York City.
Gill became one of the first few coaches to interview for the vacant position. Georgia assistant Rodney Garner and Miami OC Patrick Nix also interviewed.
Now word has broken that, perhaps, Ball State's Brady Hoke could be back in the mix, at least according to The (Muncie, Ind.) StarPress.
As you read yesterday, Jimbo Fisher refuses to slam the door on Auburn speculation.
The coaching search is getting more interesting by the day.
We at The Star will continue to keep you as up-to-date as possible.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Spinning it forward

We, at The Anniston Star, like to spin stories forward.
Here's my take on the Jimbo Fisher situation:
He (once again) had an opportunity to deny any interest in the Auburn job on Monday night. Again, he refused to slam the door on the job.
In my mind, that means he's interested.
Fisher has to carefully play the game right now. He can't tell the media, or anyone really, that he wants the job at Auburn since he is the head-coach-in-waiting at Florida State. With that being the case, the only route Fisher can go to express interest right now is to say how happy he is at FSU and say there's nothing to talk about with Auburn (read transcript of Fisher interview below).
That's the script Fisher is following.
If Auburn comes calling -- and that's a large "if" since Fisher has a $5 million buyout and Auburn just paid Tuberville $5.1 million -- I think Fisher would listen.
Right now, I think Auburn is exploring more affordable options.
Some of those have the potential to be just as good as Fisher (see: Gill, Turner).

Fisher interview

PANERA BREAD IN MONTGOMERY -- Jimbo Fisher made a speaking appearance at the Montgomery Quarterback Club on Monday night.
A group of six newspaper reporters and one television reporter interviewed Fisher before his appearance, made at the downtown Embassy Suites.
Note that Fisher says several times that he is happy at FSU. Also notice that, at the end, I comment that he's stopping short of denying interest (and he still doesn't deny interest).
Come to your own conclusions.
Here' the transcript of our interview with Fisher:

(Opening statement)
(Did not pick up first part of answer) … statement, there's nothing to talk about. I mean, Auburn's a great place. I've always had such respect for it and I've loved my time there, but there has never been any contact from my aspect to Auburn or Auburn's aspect to me, or with my agent. And it's a moot point. I mean, I have a lot of respect for them and all that, but there's nothing … everyone kept asking me down in Tallahassee, 'Why don't you make a statement?' Well, you don't make a statement when there's nothing there. There's no statement to make. And I wish them their best on their endeavors of where they're going for a head coach, because it's an outstanding program Like I said, there's a lot of people I care about and a lot of good friends I have there. They'll make a good choice, I know.

(You can't envision any scenario be coach in 2009)
That has nothing to do with me. (Laughs) I am very content to be at Florida State. I'm happy to be at Florida State. We're a program that's on the rise. We're recruiting well. We improved from last season. I'm really looking forward to being there next year.

(Would you listen if they contact you?)
I'm locked in to Florida State. I've got a job to Florida State.

(How much longer until you’re FSU’s head coach?)
That's a good question. It can be 1 to 2 years. When Coach Bowden wants to. You never know. Coach Bowden feels well. He's very spry. He's sharp as he ever was when you talk to him. That'll be when he decides to step down.

(Talk about becoming head coach with Bowden?)
We really don't. We really don't. At times, he'll say, every now and then, 'Hey, I'm a little tired,' but we really haven't just sat down and had that conversation. And, I don't think it's appropriate for me to have that conversation with him, really. He's earned that right and I knew the circumstances going into the situation, so...

(Been getting a lot of calls?)
Oh yeah, a lot of people because they hear the same reports that everyone else does. And it's flattering. It really is to have a program that's as outstanding as Auburn with people thinking that, and your friends are saying they wish you'd come back. But that's always that way. Like I said, I've got a lot of very good friends of mine that still live in Auburn or are connected to Auburn. That was a great seven years that I was able to be there. Or was it six? It was seven. I don't even remember how many it was. That's a bad sign. I'm getting old already.

(Head coach in-waiting becoming more popular?)
I tell you what, it seems to be a hot topic. I’ve answered this before, I think a lot of that comes from when you actually go out and you start looking for a head coach, some people are either tied up contractually or people may not be what you see as the fit for your school and different things.
When you go to interview a guy – I’ve always said this to be a head coach – if he hasn’t been there before, you don’t have the prior connection, how well do you really know him? How well do you really know that guy?
I think what schools are seeing are that if they have an assistant that has the promise, that they can bring along, that knows the university, they know his values and principles and the things he believes, and you’re with him on a day-to-day basis and you really know him, why would you not go ahead and mark him as the guy for the future and do it.
For schools, it’s actually the smarter thing and, a lot of time, it saves you money. Because a lot of times it keeps staff continuity. You don’t have as many staff changes. When a new guy comes in and has no connections to the staff, it’s rare that they keep many guys because they just aren’t his people.
So you have to pay those guys off, bring another group in. Now I think it’s a thing in the future that ADs and presidents are going to see, it’s a smart move.
There’s a lot of upsides to it.

(When made appearance didn’t know significance?)This was made eight to 10 months ago. The timing of things is very ironic sometimes. I didn’t even think about it until, I guess, the other day when they made the statement. When I was getting my schedule for this week I saw I was going to speak in Montgomery and I said, ‘Oh, this is going to go over really well.’
It’s always good to be popular. What do they say in Hollywood? ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, as long as you’re in the news.’
It’s very ironic that the timing of the whole thing worked out the way it did.

(reaction to Tommy's departure)
Sad. Because, I thought he did a really good job there, they've been successful there. But, you know, change is always inevitable. Today's time -- it's very much like kids. I mean, we all the quick fix and we want things to be right, and we want change for change sometimes. It's our society, and that's what we have to deal with. You get into coaching and now that there's large sums of money, things have changed, you're not going to have the patience. People ask me (about) Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno -- you'll probably never see that again. That's probably because of how much money and the way things are going in this business, and the way sports are going. And it's sad. I think Tommy did a good job. I've never known Tommy. They did a good job, and obviously it was very good for Auburn, but Auburn people thought it was time for a change. That's the way this business goes.

(Wetherell and Bowden spoke up for you to stay)
Very good. It's very good because you'd rather be wanted than wanting you outta here (laughs). That's one thing I’ve always tried to do in this business is be able to look people in the eye and tell them the truth, whether it's good or bad. That's what it means. Right now I'm very happy at Florida State and that's the way it is. It's very flattering to have your president and your head coach there to say we don't want him to go anywhere.

(Sorry, we came late. Are you interested in Auburn?)
I said there's nothing to be interested in, because I haven't made contact and they haven't made contact. I'm very happy at Florida State. That's where we plan to be.

(You’re still stopping short of saying ‘no.’ Am I reading too much into this?)
You're reading way too much into it. I'm very happy here at Florida State. I'm very happy.

Non-coaching search news

The Associated Press named DT Sen'Derrick Marks and DE Antonio Coleman to the all-SEC team.
Coleman had 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks this season. Marks had 10 tackles for loss.
Both juniors could potentially leave for the NFL.

The Fisher saga continues...

Another negatory tally to add to the Jimbo Fisher situation.
Andrew Carter of The Orlando Sentinel reported that FSU head coach Bobby Bowden said Fisher is "a man of his word," indicating that Fisher will not be seriously considered for the Auburn job.

Fisher is in a tricky situation if, in fact, he wants the Auburn job.
He can't reveal his hand too early. He has to make it seem that he's uninterested in the job until it's his for the taking or else Florida State will be might upset (per the comments of both Bowden and FSU president T.K. Wetherell).

Until I read or hear Fisher publicly state that he has no interest in this job, I think there's a chance he could still end up as Auburn's next head coach.

Butch Davis

This isn't real news, but I'll post it here anyway.
I just received an e-mail from North Carolina athletics director Dick Baddour that said he doesn't comment on whether a coach has been contacted by another school. He also said Butch Davis is "totally involved in recruiting and getting this team ready for our bowl game."

Don't read anything into that either way. As Baddour said, he wouldn't comment if Auburn had contacted him and he wouldn't comment if Auburn hadn't contacted him.

Just letting you know, we're working hard for you...

Two new interviews

The Birmingham News has reported that Auburn AD Jay Jacobs has interviewed both Georgia assistant coach Rodney Garner and Miami OC Patrick Nix.
Both have Auburn ties. Garner was an Auburn coach from 1990-95. Nix played quarterback for the Tigers from 1992-95.
While both men have strong ties to Auburn, it would seem that neither would be at the top of Auburn's wish list.

Hoke hoax?

ESPN's Joe Schad reported yesterday on air that Brady Hoke would interview for Auburn's vacant head coach job.
That report never surfaced on ESPN.com (red flag #1). The (Muncie, Ind.) StarPress BSU beat reporter, Doug Zaleski, reported that Hoke will not interview for the job. (Red flag #2).
I called and wrote BSU athletics director Thomas Collins. Joe Hernandez, one of the associate ADs, responded with this e-mail:
"Ball State does not comment on personnel matters of its coaches or other athletic department personnel."

I know coaches lie in the profession, but what harm would it do Hoke if he interviewed for this job? It seems like he would want the publicity.
I think, for the time being, we can chalk this one up to premature reporting on Schad's part.
That's not to say it won't happen, just to say there have been no further reports to indicate that it will.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Johnson update

There's really not much to report here. GT coach Paul Johnson is scheduled to sit down with GT athletics director Dan Radakovich on Tuesday.
Interestingly, though, Johnson declined comment on the Auburn head-coaching position when asked about it on Sunday night.
That's interesting because it was a great opportunity for Johnson to shoot down rumors. In all likelihood, it's a ploy to drive up a higher salary. One could interpret it to mean Johnson is interested in the position, though.

That's all for tonight.

Undoubtedly, there will be more tomorrow.

Hoke to interview

Add another candidate to the coaching list: Ball State's Brady Hoke.
Hoke led Ball State to the MAC Championship Game and an undefeated regular season before the Cardinals lost to Buffalo.
Hoke, a Lloyd Carr descendant, has a 34-38 career record. Last year was the first time in 11 seasons that Ball State played in a bowl game.
EDIT: ESPN's Joe Schad reported that Auburn will interview for the job.

Gill update

Contrary to published reports, Turner Gill has not interviewed with Auburn yet.
A source close to Gill confirmed that information, adding that he expects Auburn will interview Gill this week in New York City -- the site of the National Football Foundation awards banquet.
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs is expected to be in NYC for the week, setting up an ideal situation for an interview to take place.

On The Hunt: Head Coaching Edition ep. 1

Three days in the books, one candidate gone, two others with dropping stocks and one that seems to have risen to the top of the search.
Here is a rundown on what's going on right now:


Turner Gill, Buffalo

In just three years as Buffalo's head coach, Gill has engineered a remarkable turnaround for what was formerly a doormat program. Gill led Buffalo to a conference championship in his third year after inheriting a program that had won 10 games in its first seven seasons as an FBS program.
His overall record (16-22) isn't overly impressive, but he has a great history. Gill was a strong recruiter for the 90s Nebraska teams.
Yesterday, The Buffalo News ace reporter Rodney McKissic reported that Auburn requested and received permission to speak with Gill.
Buffalo AD Warde Manuel has not returned several calls.


Jimbo Fisher, Florida State head coach designate

Fisher has the resume to be a strong candidate for the Auburn job. He worked at Auburn for six year as the team's quarterbacks coach. He also served as Nick Saban's offensive coordinator at LSU. That gives him several major advantages, including his recruiting background for both schools.
There are, however, some problems. Most notably, Fisher has a $5 million buyout to get out of his contract with Florida State. Auburn AD Jay Jacobs said money would not be an object in his search for a new head coach, but that's something FSU president T.K. Wetherell challenged when he spoke with The Tallahassee Democrat.
Fisher has been involved in several headlines over the last 36 hours. He told ESPN.com that Auburn has not contacted him.
Earlier yesterday, Wetherell told The Orlando Sentinel that Fisher "has not talked to Auburn and will not talk to Auburn."
Bottom line: I would like to hear Fisher, himself, say that he isn't interested in the job before crossing him off the list altogether. Still, it doesn't look good for Auburn right now.


Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech

Here's what we know: Johnson, the first-year GT coach, has drawn interest from Auburn, so says The Birmingham News. In his first year as coach at GT, Johnson tied with Virginia Tech atop the ACC Coastal division. Oh yeah, he also ended GT's seven-game losing streak to in-state rival Georgia. (Auburn has lost three straight to Georgia). He also has a career 116-42 record.
Johnson runs a triple-option offense that many questioned would have success once he left Navy. Even without the right personnel, Johnson's offense had little trouble working at Tech.
He's also got former Auburn coach Pat Dye in his corner: "I’ve been a fan of his since he was coaching at Georgia Southern and he ran wishbone and we ran the wishbone," Dye said.
Johnson has only been with GT for one year and an immediate jump seems unlikely. Stranger things have happened, though.
For now, lump him in the maybe pile.
Gary Patterson, TCU

Patterson's name has surfaced only on a speculative basis as of now. He is interesting because of his 82-29 record. He has led the Horned Frogs to six 10-win seasons in eight years.
Patterson is worth watching, but until more is heard from him, he's not a real contender.
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest

Same deal as Patterson. Grobe certainly has the resume: 53-44 with a conference title at normal cellar-dweller Wake. He has been linked to past vacancies at Alabama and Arkansas, but has stayed at Wake thus far.
Would Auburn be able to lure him? His agent won't say. That's because his "agent" is his wife, Holly.
Not having an agent can severely dampen the media coverage of certain people during coaching searches, since agents generally like to drive their clients' names to get them bigger contracts ($1 to Jimmy Sexton).
Grobe could be an excellent candidate for the Auburn job.
Butch Davis, North Carolina

Davis hasn't come up in discussions either. He set up Miami's 2001 National Championship team and finished with six top-25 teams in seven seasons there. He has also gotten UNC from 4-8 to 8-4 in just two seasons.
Earlier this year, though, The Birmingham News speculated Davis might not be interested in a move.
Derek Dooley, Louisiana Tech
Dooley, son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, certainly has the pedigree to be a successful coach. He has also coached under Saban at LSU and compiled a 15-22 record over three years at Louisiana Tech.
He's still green, but his name could make him a serious candidate if some other leaders decline the position.


Mike Leach, Texas Tech

Yes, Leach was one of the coaches initially linked to the job.
However, The Birmingham News reported, citing anonymous sources, that Leach is not a contender.
Leach has done a great job at Tech, but could be a culture shock for many at Auburn. He runs a spread offense that many fans fear after this year's offensive disaster. He is also very quirky and doesn't look like a prototypical coach.
Could Leach be successful? Probably. He just won't be given the opportunity.
BTW, Leach will also get a more lucrative deal.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
Apparently, Auburn had real interest in Nutt. I say apparently because Nutt is a Sexton client and, what do you know?, Nutt landed a lucrative deal after being linked to another job.
I think Auburn's interest level in Nutt was always questionable. Not that it matters after Nutt got a better deal with Ole Miss.
That's three coaches -- Johnson and Leach as well -- so far who either have or will get a better deal out of the Auburn vacancy.
Will Muschamp, Texas head coach designate
Perhaps Muschamp shouldn't be counted out altogether since he hasn't come out and said he's uninterested in the job. Still, Texas coach Mack Brown is confident Muschamp won't leave.
Muschamp has a pretty nice deal over at Texas ($900k as d-coord next year and the promise that he'll become the Texas head coach when Brown retires).
Tim Brewster, Minnesota
First of all, that Brewster's name has even emerged is somewhat amazing. In his first year at Minnesota, he inherited a bowl team and turned it into a 1-11 trainwreck. This year he got the team back into a bowl game, but that includes a 55-0 loss in a rivalry game to Iowa. (Auburn fans: Imagine how mad you were about a 36-0 loss to Alabama). He also has never recruited in the SEC.
Brewster's name emerged as a candidate in the Tennessee search, but that might have been an agent trying to get a sweetheart deal.
Minnesota AD Joel Maturi has not been contacted by Auburn to speak with Brewster.
That should be enough indicators that Brewster can be counted out for the time being.
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
As if this one ever had a real chance. Imagine the PR hit both parties would have suffered if Petrino left Arkansas for Auburn. It would have been his fourth job in four years and Auburn would look awful in hiring the person it originally tried to bring in to replace Tommy Tuberville.
That's all for now.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gill interviewed

AuburnSports.com is reporting that Auburn interviewed Buffalo head coach Turner Gill by phone on Saturday.
Gill is one day removed from leading the Bulls to a MAC championship.

Auburn to speak with Gill

Rodney McKissic, The Buffalo News' ace beat repoter for UB, has reported that Auburn has sought and received permission to speak with Buffalo coach Turner Gill.
Here's his story: http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/story/515440.html

Gill is an especially not name right now after he led the Bulls to a MAC title this year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Assistant coaches

The assistant coaches are technically still on staff a day after Tommy Tuberville resigned, but that doesn't mean they're staying much longer.
Many of the assistant coaches are back on campus, having returned from recruiting visits. Several of them have started packing their belongings this morning.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tubs out

AUBURN – The Birmingham News is reporting that Tommy Tuberville is out as head coach at Auburn.
This news comes after three days of meetings between Tuberville and athletics director Jay Jacobs. Both sides offered minimal comment after the previous two days.
There has not yet been any official statement.
The News reported that a statement could come as quickly as today. Tuberville’s final record at Auburn would be 85-40, including seven wins in 10 seasons over in-state rival Alabama. His last Iron Bowl, however, was a disaster. Alabama beat Auburn 36-0 Saturday in what apparently turned out to be Tuberville’s final game.

Day 3 of the Tuberville Steak-out

Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News is reporting that an "unofficial Auburn representative" made contact with Bobby Petrino and Mike Leach today. Here's the link: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2008/12/is_auburn_looking_at_texas_tec.html
The contacts were made before Tommy Tuberville's meeting with Jay Jacobs, which is still ongoing.

Day 3 of the Tuberville Steak-out

Yes, it's a play on the BBQ mafia. I didn't accidentally spell stakeout incorrectly.

Bryan Matthews of AuburnSports.com and I just had a brief exchange with Auburn AD Jay Jacobs.
There were no comments, but Jacobs did confirm he planned to meet with Tommy Tuberville today. It would mark the third consecutive day the two have met.
He said media relations director Kirk Sampson would provide an update today.

I realize the rumors are swirling. Let me assure you that there are assistant coaches at work today and I have seen none of them packing up their belongings.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jacobs speaks

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs addressed the media at approximately 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday night.
He offered an opening statement before answering two questions.
Here's the transcript:

Tommy and I met this morning. We'll meet again over the next couple of days. I'll let you know how it goes. That's really it.
(Are you aiming for resolution this week?)
Yes, I'd like to be.
(Is that a realistic expectation?)
We'll just have to see.
(Are you concerned the open-endedness could be hurting program?)
(Shakes his head. No verbal response.)
He then told the group of reporters he was late for dinner (and that we must be as well).
So there you have it. Another day, sans resolution, in the books.
More on this tomorrow.


EDIT: Several web sites have reported that Tuberville and Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs have met today, possibly to discuss the future of the football program.
Details were not immediately available and neither party has issued a statement either in person or through a spokesperson.
It's unclear if there will be more meetings today or in the coming days.
Several other high-ranking athletics administrators have also met today. That meeting was still ongoing when I came back to The Bunker to report.
The meeting might have been about football, but could have also been about any number of other topics.

More news when it's available.

EDIT: Tuberville left the building sometime after 3 p.m. He did not speak with reporters.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Iron Bowl fallout

We're still awaiting the fallout from Auburn getting handed its worst Iron Bowl defeat since 1962.
Tommy Tuberville seemed safe before the game, but the lack of confirmation from any superiors is piquing interest.
If there is no word today, I think many will begin to wonder if Tuberville will, in fact, return for his 11th season as Auburn's coach.

One more thing to consider:
There are several angry bowl games this year since Auburn and Tennessee didn't qualify. All Tennessee had to do was beat Wyoming and all Auburn had to do was defeat either Arkansas or Vanderbilt.
Instead, both miss bowl games.
That means there are a few bowl games that will need to sell tickets at discout rates. Here's a look:

Bowl Conference affiliations ESPN.com Projection
Texas Big XII, C-USA C-USA vs. MAC or WAC
Papajohns.com Big East, SEC Big East vs. WAC or Sun Belt
Independence Big XII, SEC Sun Belt vs. WAC or MAC

The biggest loser, obviously, is the Independence Bowl.
It normally gets low-tier bowl teams from the Big XII and SEC, but those teams generally travel well. The bowl was likely hoping Colorado could pull an upset of Nebraska (which it nearly did) and that Auburn could upset Alabama (which it did not ever appear was possible).
Instead, the bowl will be stuck with a Sun Belt team that isn't Troy and a MAC or WAC team. That's a hard fall from last year's Colorado-Alabama matchup.