By Jay Coulter
It never gets old. After all these years, beating Alabama just seems to get better and better. You could see it on the face of Tommy Tuberville. You could see it in the smiles of the fans at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Is six the sweetest?
In a lot of ways it is.
After enduring 11 months of Saban Nation talk and the return of Alabama dominance in the state, Saturday’s outcome was just as it has been for the better part of a decade.
This football season wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was just plain bad in some spots. But Saturday night at approximately 11:00 p.m. Central Time it felt just plain good.
Auburn showed the nation that Alabama is still a long ways from catching up with the Tiger juggernaut that Tuberville has created in East Alabama.
Sitting on the 30 yard line behind the Auburn bench, it was quite a site to see defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and Tuberville embrace at the end of the game. It’s nice to see a person get vindication.
Muschamp got that and then some last night. This Auburn defense fought off a gutsy Alabama offense and a seemingly incompetent officiating crew in holding the Tide to just 225 yards offense and 10 points.
If not for a terrible interference call on Eric Brock, Auburn likely would have prevented a touchdown in the game. You just had the feeling that Muschamp would have his guys ready to play after the embarrassing performance in Athens.
“I’m still down (over the loss to Georgia) about it and it’s tough to get over, but our kids are resilient,” said Muschamp.
“They keep fighting and they keep us up as coaches. I’m just so proud of these kids. They continue to fight, play hard and play Auburn football, and that’s run it and play defense. I’m real proud of them.”
Senior quarterback Brandon Cox showed why he remains a beloved figure despite an up and down season. His 12 of 22 for 117 yard performance doesn’t come close to telling the story.
Let’s face it. This kid doesn’t have the most talent. But boy does he have heart. He got knocked down more than Frazier did against Ali and managed to keep going and find a way to win.
And what can you say about Brad Lester. I’m convinced that Auburn would have two more wins had he played all year. Ben Tate also contributed in a big way. He appeared to be a step faster than he’s been all year.
The loss leaves the Alabama program reeling. The Tide has now lost four straight and are in serious jeopardy of receiving a bowl bid. The game’s intensity caught Nick Saban off guard.
“I haven’t been involved in a game that had any more excitement or enthusiasm than this game,” said Saban.
“The most disappointing thing about this season is we didn’t finish,” Saban said. “I failed the players in not getting them to be able to finish. There’s a lot of sad guys in there right now. “
Despite the win, there remain questions about the Auburn program.
Rumors of Tuberville’s departure to Texas A&M are heating up today. Tuberville has maintained that he wants to remain at Auburn.
Here’s a piece of good news. The Houston Chronicle is reporting today that A&M is looking hard at three candidates – none of which are Tuberville.
They are said to be looking at Houston Texans assistant head coach Mike Sherman, former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie and Boise State head coach Chris Peterson.
This makes you wonder whether Auburn has already worked out a deal with Tuberville to remain. Last week’s comments from Tuberville were the boldest yet as to his plans to remain on the Plains, saying that he wanted to stay at Auburn as long as they would have him.
He’s expected to meet with Auburn President Jay Gogue and athletic director Jay Jacobs on Monday. An announcement of a contract extension for Tuberville could come quick.
Auburn will now get some must needed rest and bask in the glow of a sixth straight win over its arch rival. Three straight senior classes have never tasted defeat to Alabama.
Looking ahead, you have to like this team in 2008. If the Tigers can develop a quarterback, there’s a better than average chance the streak will move to seven next season.