By Jay Coulter
Has it been a week already since Auburn defeated Alabama in the Iron Bowl? This has been one of the more bizarre weeks in Auburn history – and that’s saying a lot isn’t it?
Auburn fans have to feel like the kid who wakes up the day after Christmas with the flu and is too sick to play with his new toys. Fans have been stripped of the opportunity to celebrate an unprecedented sixth straight win over its arch rival.
We know that sometime this afternoon the Tigers will accept a birth in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to play Clemson. Under normal circumstances I’d be pretty excited. It’s a great bowl and close enough for a lot of fans to make the trip.
But we all know things are different now for Auburn. The coaching situation continues to be a train wreck. Is Tommy Tuberville staying or is he going? It’s a question we still don’t have an answer to nearly a week after negotiations started.
One thing is certain. Damage has been done. Trust has been broken. We now know that the events of 2003 were never really forgiven on either side. The question is can things ever be fixed between Tuberville and those pulling the purse strings?
Auburn fans appear to be divided. Many side with Tommy Tuberville and feel like he’s been wronged by school officials. Others believe that Tuberville has manipulated the system and isn’t due anything since he’s under contract for another four years.
And then there’s the group that doesn’t know what the hell to think. I find myself in this camp for now.
There have been so many conflicting reports that no one seems to know what to believe. I heard from a source that I consider extremely reliable that athletic director Jay Jacobs refused to provide more money for the assistant coaches’ and additional funds for an indoor practice facility.
Of course, this is subject to change. They are in the middle of negotiations. But when you couple that with the weak contract extension Tuberville was offered, you have to wonder how Auburn officials really feel about the man from Camden, Arkansas.
Tuberville’s options appear to be running out at this point. Les Miles is staying at LSU. The Arkansas job appears to have gone cold for now. So at this point, his only real option is to accept an agreement that he doesn’t really like.
Tuberville has long praised the buyout clause that’s part of the existing contract. It stands at $6 million this season. He’s touted it as something that protects both parties. But word has leaked out that he wants the buyout drastically reduced or eliminated.
That begs the question, what has changed?
There’s obviously a huge rift between Tuberville and some on the Auburn Board of Trustees. It’s too early to pass blame. We simply don’t have enough information. My inclination is to side with Tuberville.
He’s done a lot for Auburn and should be rewarded. Maybe that’s going to happen in due time. I get the funny feeling that Tuberville may be around another year, but that he will be actively shopping next season. That’s not good for the Auburn program.
It’s time for this process to be completed. Both sides need to meet in the middle.
Again, the Auburn family is fractured. What should be a celebration of six straight over Alabama has turned into a nightmare for everyone.
Let’s get this behind us soon and get ready for Clemson. The players and the fans deserve it.