Tuberville Apologizes For Bama Game Loss

Auburn, Ala.--<b>Tommy Tuberville</b> apologized to fans and issued a challenge to his coaching staff and players as the Tigers returned to the scene of the football crime on Sunday.

The Auburn coach answered questions about the Tigers and he put the team through a lengthy and unusually physical workout on the Jordan-Hare Stadium turf. It was the first time AU had practiced in its stadium since August and the workout was eight days after an astonishingly poor performance in a 31-7 home field loss to a now 5-5 Alabama team.

Javor Mills (96) plays defense vs. Alabama.

That setback has not gone over well with the Tiger faithful and Tuberville addressed that issue when asked if his "honeymoon" period with AU fans is over with?

"I don't believe in honeymoons," Tuberville said. "I came here to win the national championship. The last week was embarrassing for everybody, especially me. I want to apologize to the Auburn family for what happened. That was totally my fault. I didn't have them ready to play. We didn't get after them and get it done. It was a tough loss. That was the toughest Thanksgiving I have ever been through. I am sure there are people who have gone through tougher times."

Despite the setback, Auburn owns a one-game lead in the SEC West with a 5-2 league record. With LSU defeating Arkansas on Friday, Auburn has clinched its second straight divisional crown. However, if LSU defeats Auburn on Saturday night the Tigers and Bayou Bengals will finish in a tie. LSU would represent the West at the Dec. 8 SEC Championship Game for the first time ever because the first tiebreaker is the head to head result.

"When I came here I came to win a national championship," Tuberville said. "We were going to build it from the ground up. We are not swinging on all cylinders right now. It is tough that we have got guys playing that are having to play more than they should be playing. They have fought through some tough times, but I want to give credit to (Athletic Director) David Housel and our board of trustees for giving us the opportunity to build new facilities to help us recruit.

"We had to let some players go to get this thing straightened out," Tuberville said. "We are playing with 75 scholarship players, but we are not making any excuses. I think we are ahead of schedule.

"Three years from yesterday is the day I was hired. I did a lot of thinking yesterday about all of that, about what we wanted to accomplish from that time to this point. I know there are a lot of people disappointed in this football team, but I hope they are just disappointed in me. This football team has done a whole lot more than I would have ever expected would happen."

Tuberville, whose team is 7-3 overall, added, "These guys worked hard to keep this program going. They won the division championship last year. They have got at least a co-championship this year. Who would of ever thought it?"

The coach told the players, who returned to practice on Saturday after taking the week off for Thanksgiving along with other AU students, to find unhappy classmates when other students return to campus. "They are going to go to class and they are not going to get looked at the same way as they were looked at before the game," Tuberville said. "That is just human nature. We lost the big state championship game, but we came here to win the national championship. We are all heartbroken over that.

"We still have a lot of things to prove. We have still got a lot of improvement to do. Our recruiting has got to stay better. And the most important thing to happen, to get this program to and keep it where it is at right now--winning two Western Division championships--is for our fans to stay behind us. I don't think there is any doubt our true fans are going to understand after a while that, "Hey, that is a loss and let's go on and get this thing going.' Let's go down to Baton Rouge, let's pull these guys through and get back to Atlanta and have a chance to go down and play Nebraska or Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl and keep on going."

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