Stop. Listen closely...You can actually hear Tommy Tuberville grinning as he sits on a lake somewhere outside of Opelika. Once he reels the bait in, there's a pause...recast...plop! And then another grin.
We never really bought the whole "Tuberville resigned" story to begin with. After huddling together for three days only to emerge with the "we can't believe Tommy quit; we asked him three times to stay; and then we gave him over $5 million for his services" story, it was apparent that a coach four years removed from a perfect season and an SEC championship had been dismissed. But it was also apparent that Tuberville had scored big in the divorce proceedings.
This week, Tuberville's mom hasn't necessarily cleared the air, but she's definitely shaking up that can of Lysol with her finger on the trigger. The Auburn brass has stood by their story; evidently AD Jay Jacobs hasn't finished reading his "Public Relations Spin for Dummies."
To everyone outside of the Auburn campus, it is clear that there is a nasty bruise developing on the athletic department's eye. Perhaps instead of spraying the Lysol, Tommy's momma just threw the can at the face of Bobby Lowder's play toy.
The lies about Tuberville's misfortune aside, the really embarrassing part of the story is just beginning. No disrespect to Turner Gill and Brady Hoke, but are these the candidates Auburn officials had in mind when they arranged for Tuberville's retirement? Is one of the best college coaching jobs in America really going to be vacated by an established winner, only to be replaced by a potential project?
I might be venturing out on a limb here, but Auburn fans may need more of a splash! at the introductory conference. They may require a name somewhat bigger than Derek Dooley or Rodney Garner to satisfy their concerns that the program is less comic page material and more front page sports story.
That is, unless the bigger fish in the coaching pond have read the writing in the sand. I mean, it is conceivable that a coach may not want a job that was just taken from someone who had done everything right, had kept the program clean and had (by the way) won quite a few games. It is within reason to suspect that Auburn's football program is less like a well organized conglomerate and more like a dictatorship.
Tuberville may have won the Lowder Lottery last week, but it wasn't without injury. This casual observer would suspect that the BIG time BOOSTer has spent five years stewing over the Louisville Runway Incident. He had wanted Petrino then, but his jaunt into backstabbing and under the table poker had ended up front page material. Auburn's talking heads had been unable to shield the University from embarrassment and this season Lowder had to watch as Petrino led a rival into Jordan-Hare and left with a win.
Something had to change; Tuberville had to pay.
The coaches being interviewed are good men who have bright futures ahead of them. A couple have head coaching experience and all of them are proven winners. But doesn't a program of Auburn's stature deserve to have candidates clamoring for their attention? Are they really at the point that they must roll the dice on a young winner from a mid-major? When this news broke last week, didn't we all expect there to be some big name out there waiting to be leaked as the next coach at Auburn University?
In the state of Alabama there is no professional team to unify the electorate; you are either a Auburn man or a Bama man. And the Crimson Tide has reeled in a winning coach that appears set for years to come. In fact they kept offering Saban the job until he accepted. Now, fresh off a trip to Atlanta last week, Bama's sidelines are soon to be teeming with in-state and national talent.
Who will Auburn force to say yes?
Auburn had a coach that had won seven of ten Iron Bowls and...well, now they are paying Tuberville to fish...and grin. What's worse is their fans may be paying to see their team fall from a respectable program into one that let its big fish slip away.
I guess we can follow the story on the funny pages.