By Jay Coulter
Can you feel it? A funny thing is starting to happen with Auburn people. Whether it’s on talk radio, blogs, message boards or around the water cooler, Auburn fans are getting sick of the Tommy Tuberville tap dance with University officials.
For weeks now, Auburn fans have lavished praise on the ninth year coach and urged Auburn officials to do what’s necessary to keep him on the Plains. They have pointed fingers at athletic director Jay Jacobs, university president Jay Gogue and others for not moving fast enough.
Meanwhile, Tuberville has said nothing. He’s tried to dismiss the reports of his interest in the Texas A&M job. He says all the talk has had no impact on his team and refuses to acknowledge its role in Saturday’s loss at Georgia.
While fans want a deal done soon, Tuberville shows no interest in negotiating with Auburn until after the Iron Bowl – an opinion held by both sides. These actions are eerily similar to the one’s he took at Ole Miss following the 1998 season.
Outside of success on the field, the thing that most endeared Auburn fans to Shug Jordan and Pat Dye was their love of Auburn. They talked about the Auburn family often.
Both said it was the only job they ever wanted. As a fan, you had the feeling that nothing could lure them away from the Plains. To this day, Dye still lives in the area.
We’ve never really had that feeling with Tuberville. And it’s certainly understandable. What happened during the 2003 season is an unforgivable sin. It was without question, the school’s darkest hour.
Auburn has done its best to make up with a lucrative contract and many extras. And Tuberville has reciprocated, giving the university its finest run of football seasons in its history.
But since that ill-fated trip to Louisville, there’s been something missing. Tuberville has never been able to let his guard down. There are still factions within the university that unbelievably, still don’t accept him.
What Auburn fans want most from Tuberville now is for him to come out and say he’s an Auburn man and that he loves being here and wants to finish his career on the Plains. They don’t want him dodging questions and dismissing the talk.
It reminds everyone far too much of Nick Saban and maybe even the Tuberville from back in 1998.
Perhaps more than Dye, Tuberville is the fan’s coach. After all, it was the everyday fan that rose up after Jet Gate and demanded that he be retained and treated right. It’s been the fan that has demanded that he be given what he’s asked for in a new contract.
All Auburn fans want now is for a little acknowledgement from Tuberville. Stand up and say you’re an Auburn man. Stand up and say that you can’t imagine coaching anywhere else but Auburn. Tell everyone how much you love Auburn.
The question is, does Tuberville view Auburn as something more than a job. Is it really in his blood? Has he really gotten over the way he was treated four seasons ago?
Tuberville is the best fit for Auburn. You can’t realistically ask a coach to do more with a program than he has over the last decade. He’s poured all his time and energy into making it a consistent winner.
The real question is whether his heart is in it – or is it just another job?
Note: Phillip Marshall of The Huntsville Times writes a great story today on this subject. Click here to read.