By Jay Coulter
As we speculated last night, once that plane left Auburn for Austin, there was no turning back - except to get the wife and kids.
Muschamp returned to Auburn today and refused to answer questions from reporters other than to say a decision had not been made. We now know that wasn’t the truth.
He met briefly with Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville late this afternoon and broke the news.
Muschamp released this statement through Auburn tonight:
"First, I want to thank Coach Tuberville for giving me an opportunity to coach at a special place like Auburn," Muschamp said. "He was a great coach to work for, and I had a chance to work with an outstanding staff. I want to thank the players for the effort they gave over the past two seasons.
"Auburn has a great fan base and great support for its football program. It's been a tough day and a tough decision. However, I feel that this is a decision that's best for my family."
Candidates mentioned as possible replacements include: former Duke coach Ted Roof, former Georgia Tech defensive coordinator John Tenuta and Cincinnati University defensive coordinator Joe Tresey.
To say this move comes as a shock is an understatement.
Numerous media sources reported in late December that the Southern Miss job was his to take. Other media outlets say that Muschamp spurned SMU and its heading coaching job.
That’s what makes this move all the more puzzling. You have to believe that money wasn’t an issue. The Auburn Board of Trustees recently approved a raise for Muschamp that would have paid him $425,000 next season, the highest for an assistant in the SEC.
The Dallas Morning News is reporting tonight that his salary will be upwards of $400,000. You have to believe it will be substantially higher than what he was to be paid at Auburn in 2008.
"We're thrilled to have Will joining our staff," said Texas Coach Mack Brown. "He's a bright, young, high-energy coach who has gained a great deal of experience and had a lot of success in working for two tremendous coaches in Nick Saban, Tommy Tuberville and Roy Kidd (Eastern Kentucky/College Football Hall of Famer).
"He built a defense at LSU that helped them become one of the nation's most dominant units for several years, including a national championship in 2003, and he’s done the same thing at Auburn."
There will be a lot of speculation as to why Muschamp left. At this point no one is quite certain what made him leave.
One thing is for sure, Auburn fans loved Will Muschamp. He was the most popular assistant coach on the Plains in the last 25 years. Many fans hoped that he would one day replace Tuberville upon retirement.
Now all that good will (no pun intended) is gone. Auburn fans feel like they’ve been punched in the gut tonight.
The coming days will be interesting as the world turns on the Plains of Auburn.
Note: To read the Texas coverage of the hiring of Will Muschamp, make sure and visit Burnt Orange Nation. It’s run by my friend Peter Bean and he’s one of the best at covering Texas football.