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AU Nation waiting

By Staff
Paul Finebaum
Franklin County Times
So you think Texas A&M still wants Tommy Tuberville after Saturday's stinker in Athens?
Nothing like laying an egg in the weekend's biggest college football game and losing by 25 to your second biggest rival as your club apparently quits on you down the stretch while blowing a possible shot at the Sugar Bowl.
All of this while your loyal agent, Jimmy Sexton (who also represents exactly one-half of the SEC head coaches) brazenly shops your name around in order for you to have a chance at becoming college football's highest paid coach.
The Aggies don't need to drill another oil well in order to gather the $4 million a year needed to hire Tuberville (and the $6 million to buy him out of his Auburn deal). They already have someone in Dennis Franchione who can embarrass the program on a weekly basis.
And you, Auburn fans, how do you feel now?
Last week, the Auburn Nation declared its undying love for Coach Tubs, saying almost in unison: "We love you Tommy. We will pay you whatever you need to stay. Don't go to A&M."
Tuberville rewarded the loyal Auburn fans with one of the biggest clunkers of his career on Saturday afternoon. Only Nick Saban of Alabama, who is cashing an annual check at just below $4 million (right now, that's coming to just a hair over $571,000 a win), did a sorrier job overall of preparing his team last weekend.
But Saban is in the first year of a rebuilding project (and he did take Georgia to overtime before losing), although that is still no excuse for being schooled by Sylvester Croom, a coach who makes $3.1 million less and whose talent and facilities pale mightily in comparison.
At least (this year) Saban wasn't holding an entire fan base hostage like Tuberville did last week. Tuberville played the "aw shucks" game publicly while Sexton continued to furiously stir the pot, fueling the Tubby to A&M rumors.
I must admit the duo of Sexton and Tuberville played everyone for fools. Of course, Sexton has a little practice at this, landing Saban the Alabama gig back in January, getting him off the Titanic (better known as the Miami Dolphins) before it hit the iceberg and making Alabama feel like it had just broken the Da Vinci Code in the process. Considering the Dolphins are the worst team in recent NFL history, would Saban even have a job in south Florida today had he remained in the sun?
The Auburn Nation, which was humiliated during Jetgate, last week was trying so hard to profess love for Tuberville that people kept falling over each other trying to look and sound more committed than their neighbors. One former Auburn quarterback told me: "We need to pay him whatever it takes."
He added that that should be the case even if the price tag goes up to the $4 million Saban is making at Alabama.
Imagine that if you can, Auburn people caring what is going on at Alabama!
So what happens now that Georgia has cost Auburn a possible BCS berth for the second year in a row? Who needs the Sugar Bowl in primetime when you can play at 10 a.m. on New Year's morning or perhaps even worse?
When this season ends, Tuberville's record will show at least four losses on the ledger. In his 13-year head coaching career in the SEC, this will mark the 10th time he has lost as many as four games. This is the sixth time (in nine years) he has done the dirty deed at Auburn.
Having said all that, he's still done a credible job and the age-old question remains: Who could Auburn get who would be better?
But that's really not the point right now. The point is what happens next? Will Sexton continue shopping Tuberville around – after all, Tubby says he's happy at Auburn and will stay as long as they'll have him.
Or will Tuberville try to cut a quick deal with his current bosses, saying he's "no longer a candidate for Texas A&M or any other job," and get back to the business of trying to beat Alabama for the sixth year in a row? Or will he take the offer, assuming there really is one out there in Texas?
The Auburn Nation is anxiously waiting for an answer.
Paul Finebaum is a guest columnist for The Franklin County Times. He can be reached via e-mail at