Tuberville has tough decision to make
For the FCT
Why should Tommy Tuberville consider Texas A&M or any other school that comes calling over the next month or so?
Two words: Nick Saban.
Let me offer Saturday, Oct. 20, 2007, as evidence.
Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa – again. Oh, I know he showed up on Jan. 3 with the Elvis-like mob scene at the airport. But Saturday was the real deal.
We've seen flashes of brilliance all along – along with some quirky and wrong calls as well – but his behind-the-barn wood-shedding of Phillip Fulmer (who has a few rings of his own) was the siren that I'm sure was heard across the landscape, particularly at Tuberville's motel room in Baton Rouge.
In a span of days, Saban brought an utterly demoralized Alabama nation (after two pungent losses and two exasperating and frustrating wins) to its feet and something tells me there will be no looking back now.
Coaching matters and the little things that Saban employs and how he gets players to react will eventually bring championships to the Capstone. It won't happen immediately and there will be more losses this year.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised, given Saban's r/sum/. However, it's been so long since an Alabama head football coach has made great moves during an actual game, it still seemed surprising, if not a little shocking Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
So what does this have to do with Tuberville?
In spite of a valiant effort, Tuberville, the undisputed King of the Road, lost his fourth straight in Tiger Stadium – where SEC West championship are often decided – and it now appears that for the eighth time in his nine seasons at Auburn, he will not win an SEC championship. Saban won two SEC crowns in five years on the Bayou.
What Auburn really lost Saturday night was an opportunity. After a miserable start, everybody was talking Auburn again. That's not likely to happen again this year on the national stage. Auburn won't have a chance to be considered for its first CBS network appearance this year until Nov. 10 (Georgia), and isn't guaranteed one until Nov. 24 in the Iron Bowl.
Tuberville's record is magnificent over these last few years, particularly on the road – although you rarely hear that he has dropped four in Jordan-Hare in the last 54 weeks.
And in spite of all Tuberville's genius and brilliance and rumors of bidding wars between the Auburn Board of Trustees and this school or that, Auburn finds itself this morning, 5-3 overall (3-2 in the SEC), likely out of the SEC championship race and its bowl stock slipping.
So Tuberville has a decision to make in the coming weeks. Does he stay or does he go?
If you are to believe Tuberville, he loves Auburn and has zero intention of ever leaving. No problem here. However, he should be warned.
It's not going to get any easier. Auburn may beat Alabama this year (for the sixth year in a row). They'll be favored. But Saturday in Tuscaloosa was a preview of the future.
The 41-17 victory over Tennessee showed Alabama can do more with less than it used to be able to handle. It showed that on any given Saturday, Saban can find a way. Alabama hasn't had this luxury in a very long time.
And Tuberville hasn't had a foe across the state to deal with like this, either.
So if Tubs is having trouble making his decision, I suggest he pop in a DVD and watch the scene in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, as Alabama football inched closer to being relevant again. Watch the crowd cheer at the end of the game. Watch the crowd stay in their seats. Listen to the noise they made.
If you're Tommy Tuberville, you had better beware: The cacophony is only going to get louder.
Paul Finebaum is a guest columnist for The Franklin County Times. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.