By Jay Coulter
You can bet the Tommy Tuberville to Texas A&M talk will heat up this week following the Aggies 19-11 loss to Kansas over the weekend.
I’ve heard from several sources that Tuberville’s agent, Jimmy Sexton is already in preliminary talks with the university on a contract extension.
Don’t be fooled by the talk of Auburn waiting until the end of the year to begin negotiations. Sources say there are several things Tuberville is asking for, including higher pay for his assistants.
Huntsville Times writer Phillip Marshall wrote a story yesterday quoting athletic director Jay Jacobs as saying Auburn is committed to Tuberville. You would certainly think so.
Another rumor floating around the Big 12 is that Nebraska may be interested in talking with Tuberville. And who can blame them?
His contract runs through 2011 and currently has a $6 million buy-out clause. Tuberville is guaranteed a minimum of $2.35 million this season. He automatically gets a $200,000 raise each season for television and radio rights.
Right now, Tuberville is saying all the right things.
“It makes good talk doesn’t it?” he says. “I guess there is not anything else to talk about. I don’t read too much this time of year. I guess this time of year speculation starts on people moving, getting fired and changing jobs.
“It’s just part of the business and I’m used to dealing with it over the past 12 or 13 years. It doesn’t bother me too much and I don’t get involved with it. When we signed a contract a few years ago it was a commitment on both sides.”
As we’ve discussed before, all indications are Tuberville is happy. You still have to believe that he will listen should other teams call. That’s business.
But Tuberville knows what he’s got at Auburn. Regardless of what the king of yellow journalism says in Birmingham, his team next season has a very legitimate shot at winning a conference championship and maybe a national championship.
Next year’s team will be loaded on both sides of the ball. The schedule is very manageable – or at least more so than this year’s. If Tuberville can settle on a quarterback, things look very good in 2008.
Looking more down the road, Tuberville has to believe that he’s just a few recruiting classes away from being a perennial top 10 team. It could take 10 years at Texas A&M to get to that point.
At this juncture in his career, money has to be secondary. We should all be so lucky. Tuberville’s much more interested in taking care of his family and his assistants.
There’s little doubt Auburn can provide that security.
With that said, Auburn must take Tuberville seriously during negotiations. Like it or not, Nick Saban has increased the pay range for college coaches. Auburn officials will have to play in that world.
If they don’t, it will cost them much more than $4 million a year.