Questions and Answers Concerning AU's Leadership

Columnist Phillip Marshall takes a look at some of the issues surrounding the management of the Tiger football program.

I don't believe any ongoing story I've covered in 34-plus years has generated as much feedback as has the ongoing saga of the now infamous trip by Auburn president William Walker, athletic director David Housel and trustees Earlon McWhorter and Byron Franklin to interview Louisville coach Bobby Pet rino. The one-year's probation handed down by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools generated even more questions.

I'll try to answer some of the most-often asked questions.

Q: Why has Auburn been so severely criticized for going to interview a coach? Doesn't it happen all the time?

A: Auburn has been criticized for several reasons. First, nobody bothered to tell Tommy Tuberville his job was in jeopardy. Second, nobody at Auburn followed protocol and informed Louisville's administration it was happening. Third, after the trip was exposed, there were enough lies told to last for several years. Not only does it not happen like this "all the time," it is virtually unheard of for it to happen like this.

Q: Isn't this similar to the way Tommy Tuberville was hired from Ole Miss?

A: Not at all. At the time Tuberville was hired, Bill Oliver was the interim head coach and Auburn was going through a very public coaching search. There was no contact between Tuberville and Auburn officials. The contact was with his agent. There was no trip by Auburn officials to Oxford. Before Housel contacted Tuberville, he sought and got permission from Ole Miss officials.

Q: Is anyone going to lose his job over this?

A: That remains to be seen. My guess is that someone will, but it's only a guess.

Q: Was Petrino offered the Auburn job?

A: The Auburn group left with the understanding that Petrino would take the job if offered and he left with the understanding that it would be offered after his team's last regular-season game against Cincinnati.

Q: What are the chances SACS will revoke Auburn's accreditation?

A: Almost zero. The worst-case scenario probably would be that the probation would be extended beyond one year. The only way accreditation would be revoked would be if Auburn simply ignored SACS recommendations. That's not going to happen.

Q: Did the trip to Louisville have an impact on the SACS ruling?

A: No. It was not considered. The final report hasn't been released, but most of the issues SACS addressed occurred before Walker's time as president.

Q: Why do you believe Walker, Housel, McWhorter and Franklin should resign?

A: I believe they have lost the trust of Auburn people.

Q: Why don't you "go after" Bobby Lowder?

A: I know Lowder provided the airplane for the trip. I don't know anything more than that. I don't know if he knew the details, knew Louisville officials had not been contacted, knew Tuberville had been left in the dark. I could speculate, but speculation can be very dangerous in a story like this.

Q: How much will recruiting be affected by the controversy and the SACS ruling?

A: Not as much as many people would think. Auburn coaches seem to have done a remarkable job of repairing much of the damage that was done by two weeks of uncertainty. I would expect the SACS ruling to have little if any impact on recruiting.

Q: Did trustees tell Walker to begin the process of replacing Tuberville?

A: No. Walker, who admits he knows little about football, loudly expressed his dissatisfaction as early as the Georgia Tech game. He was the one who started the process.

Until next time...


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