By Jay Coulter
Much has been written the past week on Auburn’s 2008 recruiting class. Most of it has been negative.
Auburn’s success or lack of is all a matter of perception. Phillip Marshall wrote about it last week in his blog and makes some excellent points.
I’ll put my two cents in now for what it’s worth…
Looking at the big picture, it was a pretty solid performance. When you land a top 20 class you have to be pleased. Auburn did exactly that.
The Tigers filled needs on the defensive line, at wide receiver, at quarterback and in the defensive secondary. There are likely no Carnell Williams or Ronnie Brown’s among the group, but across the board it’s a class that’s capable of winning championships.
When you look at the numerous off season changes, it’s pretty amazing that Tommy Tuberville and his coaches held things together.
There’s little question the loss of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and to a lesser extent, offensive coordinator Al Borges played a big role in Auburn missing out on more than one four-star recruit.
But perhaps more than anything else, what hurt Auburn the most was Tuberville’s prolonged contract negotiations in December. The process brought in to question his commitment to Auburn. Or you may say Auburn’s commitment to Tuberville.
Either way, I think it’s fair to say that no one knows whether he’ll be coaching at Auburn when this class finishes. Many close to the situation say that Tuberville would likely be gone now if not for the $6 million buyout clause in his contract.
With that number dropping each year, you have to wonder whether Tuberville is counting down the days until he can escape the grip of Jay Jacobs and the Board of Trustees.
I think it would be naïve of all of us not to believe that coaches across the SEC used this as a recruiting edge against Auburn.
Tuberville is said to still be seething over the way the athletic department handled Muschamp’s contract issues and his departure.
I realize that many of us are split over who is to blame. I’m sure there’s blame enough for both sides.
Count me among those in the Tuberville camp. There’s little question that he and his family love Auburn. I honestly believe it when he says that he would like to retire in Auburn.
Unfortunately, things go a little deeper. While he’d like to remain at Auburn, there’s no doubt that he’s grown tired of the daily battles with those inside the athletic department who want him gone.
It’s a battle that I’m not sure Tuberville cares to win anymore. He’s still relatively young and has many years ahead of him. When his buyout becomes more manageable, others will call and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t answer the door.
Alabama is back. They’ve planted the seeds for a return to the top of the SEC. Sure they have one of the great propaganda machines in college football. But it’s hard to deny they took a substantial step forward last Tuesday when they signed what’s regarded as the top class in the country.
Tuberville has not forgotten how to recruit. When you look at the big picture, this year might have been one of his better jobs. Auburn lost out on some big names not because of Alabama, but because of Auburn.
It’s time for Auburn people to get their house together before we lose the biggest recruit of all, Tommy Tuberville.