Petrino Out Of The Picture For Return To Auburn

Former Auburn offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino's flirtation with Auburn officials appears to be finished.

Louisville, Ky.--Former Auburn assistant coach Bobby Petrino is no longer in the picture to become head football coach at Auburn.

The Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper reported that late Thursday night Petrino took his name out of consideration for the Auburn job that is currently held by Tommy Tuberville and Petrino apologized to the AU coach as well as officials at the University of Louisville.

That announcement came within hours after Auburn University president Dr. William Walker issued a statement stating that he and athletic director David Housel, plus two board of trustees members (Earlon McWhorter and Byron Franklin) took a late night flight on Thursday to meet with Petrino to discuss the Auburn job with the former AU offensive coordinator. The AU officials flew to Sellersburg, Ind., in a Colonial Bank private jet provided by another member of the board, Bobby Lowder of Montgomery.

Bobby Petrino worked for Tuberville and Auburn for the 2002 season as offensive coordinator and coach of the quarterbacks.

The Courier-Journal quoted Petrino as saying: "First of all, I made a mistake in meeting with those people that came in, and for that I apologize. I should have spoken to (Louisville athletic director) Tom Jurich and the University of Louisville. I want to apologize for that. I'm very grateful that Tom has given me the job here at UofL. It has been something that I've always dreamed of. We've had a great year. I'm very happy with the effort that my coaches and players have put into it. And I'm going to stay here at the University of Louisville. It's the place I want to be and the job I want."

The newspaper reported that Jurich scolded AU officials for how they handled the situation and quoted him as saying, "I can deal with Bobby Petrino on my own campus. But the national perception of how a university leader would come into my own back yard, behind my back, is highly disturbing. Auburn University is damn lucky to have a coach like Tommy Tuberville, and they're damn lucky if he would even think about coaching that program again."

Earlier in the week Petrino had denied having contact with AU officials, but on Thursday night told the newspaper, "I'm a young coach, and I made a mistake." Petrino came to Auburn from the NFL where was the QB coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Meanwhile, Auburn officials have yet to inform Tuberville on whether or not he will be retained as head coach. President Walker and Athletic Director Housel have received numerous complaints from Auburn supporters via email, faxes and phone calls about the possibility that Tuberville would be fired in the same year he received a pay raise and contract extension. A buyout would likely cost the university approximately $5 million to $6 million depending on how much it would take to pay for a replacement head coach and his staff.

Tommy Tuberville is shown speaking to an Auburn club meeting earlier this year in Pensacola, Fla.

Tuberville is taking a family vacation with his wife's relatives in Indiana this week. The rest of his coaching staff is expected to be out of the office the remainder of the week with the university closing for the holiday period.

Tuberville says that he and his coaches are scheduled to be back on the job next Monday when recruiting can start again after a dead period for the holiday. However, he told Inside the Auburn Tigers that he does not expect to be retained by Auburn.

Auburn players are off this week with no classes at the university and are scheduled to be back on Monday, too. Athletic Director Housel said that he and Walker are planning to have a meeting with Tuberville early next week to discuss his job status.

Auburn, which finished the regular season 7-5 with a victory over archrival Alabama, is expected to accept a bid to play in either the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., or the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. Tuberville says an exact date for the start of practice for those games has not been set.

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