Coordinator Search Continues

The report features an update on the search for a new defensive coordinator plus comments from the new offensive coordinator Bob Petrino.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville's search for a new defensive coordinator is not finished yet with the head coach still looking at approximately 10 candidates.

On Thursday, new offensive coordinator Bob Petrino spent his first day on the job after coming in from the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars.

Tuberville is expected to continue to talk to candidates for the defensive coordinator's spot, but says he is not yet ready to make a final announcement. Tuberville also says he has not set a timetable on when he wants to complete the search, however, he is expected to make a choice no later than the middle of next week and could have a decision before the weekend is finished.

"We are getting down to crunch time for hiring a coordinator and for this year's recruiting class," Tuberville told Inside the Auburn Tigers on Thursday night. "We hope to have our defensive coordinator search done in the next few days. We have a good group of recruits coming in and I feel very good with how recruiting is going for us."

Tuberville says that he has been checking out candidates thoroughly to make sure the new hire is a good fit with the rest of the staff . He says he wants a coach who is a proven performer at coordinating a defense and one who knows defensive football inside and out. "The important thing is to make sure we get the right guy," he says.

Leading candidates to replace John Lovett as defensive coordinator include:

*Gene Chizik. He developed a reputation as a strong defensive coach at Division I-AA Stephen F. Austin where he coached for six years before moving to Central Florida where he was named defensive coordinator for the 1998 season. He is a 1985 graduate of Florida and has also coached at Middle Tennessee, Clemson and Tennessee.

*Marc Dove. He has coached linebackers the past four seasons at UCLA and before that spent two seasons coaching the secondary. A 1973 graduate of Texas Tech, he was a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection. He has worked as a defensive coordinator at Mississippi State, North Carolina, Minnesota and TCU and has coached at South Carolina and Texas Tech.

Paul Rhoads. Considered one of the top young defensive coaches in the country, the Pitt defensive coordinator and secondary coach has won praise for the job he has done with the Panthers, where he has spent five seasons. Prior to arriving at Pitt, he spent five seasons at Iowa State with four as a secondary coach and one directing the inside linebackers. The Missouri Western graduate coached DBs at Pacific for three seasons after working as a graduate assistant at Ohio State and Utah State.

*Brent Venables. The co-defensive coordinator at Oklahoma is a 29-year-old who is considered one of the hot young coaches in the country. He handles linebackers for the Sooners. Venables spent six seasons as a coach at Kansas State and was promoted to defensive coordinator there before moving south to Norman, Okla. He is a 1992 graduate of Kansas State, where he played two seasons.

*Tyrone Nix. The former Etowah High star from Attalla, Ala., was promoted to defensive coordinator last year. In his seven seasons in Hattiesburg as an assistant, he has coached linebackers, defensive backs and defensive linemen. He played linebacker for USM from 1990-93. A 1995 graduate of USM, the 29-year-old coached inside linebackers this past season.

New offensive coordinator Petrino had turned down other collegiate coordinator jobs in recent years, but says that the opportunity at Auburn was too good to pass up.

Growing up on a college campus in Helena, Montana as the son of a highly successful football coach, Petrino says that college football is his cup of tea. "I truly enjoy working with the younger athletes," he says. "They come in as an 18 or 19 year old freshman and you are able to teach them some lessons they will take with them after football. You are more of an educator than being in the performance business."

Commenting on his coaching philosophy, Petrino says, "The number one thing I try to do is get the most out of the players--get them in the proper position. Get the ball to the guys who are going to make the plays for you. We try to feature players and use their talents to the best of their ability. We have always been able to get the ball to the guys who make the plays."

Bob Petrino is shown coaching in the NFL for Jacksonville.

He says have a strong offensive front, particularly one that can pass block, is essential to offensive success. "If you can go in and are able to throw the football--there are going to be times when you have to throw the football. So, if you start from the point that we are definitely going to throw the football, so when those times come up, it is not a big deal. That is already what you do. Also, in doing that, you make the defense defend the pass and then you run the ball."

Petrino says that although he has been known as a passing oriented offensive coordinator, the run has been a big part of his team's successes. "We have really won because of our ability to run the football and have guys rush for 1,500 yards and score touchdowns."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Petrino had been to Auburn before taking the job. He came to the football complex last year to "work out" former Tiger quarterback Ben Leard while checking out prospects for the 2001 NFL draft...Petrino's oldest daughter, a 15-year-old high school freshman, plays high school varsity basketball. His youngest daughter, who is 10, won a Florida age group state championship in gymnastics and his two sons (ages 13 and 11) are athletes like their father, who was a star QB for his father at Carroll College...Petrino says he hasn't decided whether or not he will call the plays from the sidelines or the press box. He has done both. He coached from the sidelines with Jacksonville...Petrino's father Bob wrote a book on option football. "I haven't run a lot of option football in a long time."...His brother is QB coach at Southern Miss and his brother-in-law has won two state high school football championships in Montana.

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