The Auburn head coach's attention is focused on the MAC (Mid-American Conference) where he is looking at Rob Spence from Toledo, Shane Montgomery from Miami of Ohio, Greg Studrawa of Bowling Green and Jim Pry, who was recently hired by Akron after coaching at Duke the past two seasons. Farther west in the Big 12, Tuberville has looked at Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State.
"I have two or three more people I want to talk to before I make a decision," Tuberville says. "I have also been talking to a lot of other people listening to their recommendations and checking on references. We want to make sure we pick the best person possible for our staff."
Tuberville would like to see more offensive production from his team that finished 8-5 last season despite having one of the nation's top-ranked defensive units. Auburn averaged 376.2 yards per game, which was 61st in the NCAA Division I statistics for 2003. The Tigers were 66th in scoring at 26.3 points per contest.
Spring football drills begin on Feb. 29th, which explains why Tuberville is looking to get started as quickly as possible preparing for a new offensive system once the coordinator is selected.
The new coordinator will take over the position held by Hugh Nall, who also coached the offensive line last season. Nall will continue to be a part of the staff and will coach the centers, guards and tackles. An on-the-field coaching vacancy opened when cornerback coach Phillip Lolley was moved into Jimmy Perry's position as the coaching staff's liaison with high school and NFL coaches. Perry is the new director of football operations, taking over a spot that was vacant.
Those are all of the changes that Tuberville has announced, however, defensive coordinator Gene Chizik will have expanded duties in 2004. "In addition to coaching the safeties, he will also handle the cornerbacks," Tuberville notes. "It is a normal thing for the same person to coach both positions."
Tuberville, who interviewed Spence in Auburn last week, says he is looking for an offensive coordinator who will be a good fit at AU with the players and staff as well as one who has proven himself at the college level. "It shouldn't be very long before I am ready to make a decision," he says.
Spence, who is 45, is also the QB coach at Toledo. In three seasons at the MAC school he has helped the Rockets gain national attention with a strong offense that has had success both running and passing the football. Prior to coaching at Toledo, he worked at Louisiana Tech, Maryland and Hofstra. Spence holds the title of assistant head coach at Toledo. In his three years there as offensive coordinator, his teams have ranked 13th, fifth and 11th nationally in total offense using a spread formation attack.
Shane Montgomery, who is 36, directed an offense that averaged 501 yards per game, which was second nationally. With QB Ben Roethlisberger leading the way, Miami of Ohio averaged just under 341 passing yards per game to go with 160 on the ground. Montgomery is also the quarterback position coach at Miami. His offense averaged 43 points per game, which tied Boise State for the national lead.
Pry, who is 52, was hired last month by Akron to coordinate that team's offense and coach quarterbacks. He had been offensive coordinator with the Blue Devils the past two seasons and for the previous two seasons before that he coached the quarterbacks at Duke. He has coaching stops at East Stroudsburg State, Buffalo, VMI, West Virginia Tech and Marshall. Duke averaged 343 yards per game last season to rank 85th nationally. The Blue Devils were 105th in scoring at 17.6 points per game.
Gundy is coaching at his alma mater, where he was a star quarterback who set a school record for offense with 7,749 career yards. In his third year as offensive coordinator at OSU, his team averaged 414.8 yards per game, which was 32nd nationally. The Cowboys scored 35.9 points per game, which ranked 11th nationally. Gundy, who is 36, has also coached at Baylor and Maryland.