Tuberville at his best when his back is to the wall

Bo AdkinsContributor IOctober 28, 2008

Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville has been here before, his back to the wall.

On Nov. 17, 2001, Tuberville’s Auburn team lost 31-7 at home to an Alabama team that went into the game with just four wins. There was great wailing among the Auburn faithful. Pundits talked about Alabama reclaiming dominance in the state. Tuberville’s job security was at issue.

Tuberville and Auburn haven’t lost to Alabama since, winning six straight.

The story of December 2003 is well-known. In what came to be known as “jetgate,” a group of Auburn officials flew to southern Indiana for a clandestine meeting with Louisville coach Bobby Petrino. They wanted him to replace Tuberville, who was two days from playing Alabama at the end of a disappointing season. Word got out, fans rose up in protest and Tuberville stayed.

In 2004, Auburn went 13-0 and Tuberville was national Coach of the Year.

And here we are in October of 2008. An Auburn team that really had an almost clear path to be 8-0 at this point in the season is 4-4. Tuberville made a bold move last December when he hired Tony Franklin to install a spread offense. It didn’t work. Franklin was fired. Auburn lost to 17-point underdog Arkansas at home and looks to be an underdog in 3 of its last 4 games.

Tuberville had won 50 games in five seasons coming into this season, but his job security is being questioned. His team is being counted out. Once again, he is being severely tested.

Will Tuberville do it again? Will he confound those who think he’s down and out?

I don’t know, but I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s done it before.