Tuberville Responds To Critics

Coach Tommy Tuberville went head-to-head with ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick on Wednesday.

Auburn, Ala.–-On Monday Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville took some shots at ESPN during a visit to the Montgomery Quarterback Club and Wednesday afternoon he had a chance to take his argument to the national stage when he went on the Dan Patrick Shown on ESPN radio. After having the chance to state an opening opinion, Tuberville said that the problem he has with the network is about the opinions they state as fact during broadcasts, something he believes has an influence on voters around the country.

"ESPN does a great job for college football and for helping out parity in college football, getting teams on TV that in the past would not have had that opportunity," Tuberville said. "I was more towards the talent and the people that work on College Gameday. They are friends of mine and I have dealt with them a lot, but sometimes you have to understand the situation that you're in.

"If you've got the microphone you can sway people's votes. I know everybody says ‘well, they don't have to vote the way that they talk' but if you keep hearing it over and over about the two teams. Again, Texas has got a heck of a football team and I thought they had a great team last year. USC has obviously got a good football team."

A proponent for the playoff system from way back, Tuberville was taken to task by Patrick for attacking the talking heads on College Gameday and not the system itself. Tuberville said that although he would love a playoff system, he can only talk about the problems with the system at hand.

"I'm just talking about the situation we're in now," Tuberville said. "We don't have a playoff system. Therefore the way our situation works the talent at ESPN, several people on ESPN Gameday, you never hear anything about other teams. Virginia Tech, Alabama, Georgia, you've got a lot of unbeaten teams there. You've got to give everybody a shot.

"I have voiced an opinion about a playoff system, especially after last year," he added. "If anybody has got a complaint. Nobody really cares whether I complain or not, but we got left out. The situation I see in college football right now is that we've got 117 I-A teams and really if you look at it you only have about 20 of those that have an opportunity each year, maybe an outside one every once in a while, to get to that one or two spot legitimately. You have 95-100 athletic directors and presidents that don't care if you have a playoff system or not.

"Until you sit in my seat like I did last year where you have kids that laid it on the line. You had Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown and Carlos Rogers, three first-round draft picks, that came back for their senior year and did what they did and did not have the opportunity for what they did in a very tough conference. It's not right. But, this is our system. It's the best system that we have and since we have this system we should not have people pushing other teams. They should let people vote. That's what I'm saying."

In particular Patrick was incensed that Tuberville would single out Lou Holtz for his work on Gameday. Despite winning a national championship at Notre Dame, Holtz couldn't get the job done at South Carolina and left the program in bad shape for new coach Steve Spurrier this season. Tuberville said that people like Holtz and Lee Corso need to keep their attacks on coaches and players out of the show because it's not something they need to be discussing.

"I have known Lou a long time, but I heard him say along with some other people on there, they are cutting coaches and players down when they're sitting in Connecticut not knowing what's going on," Tuberville said. "There might have been injuries on the team. There might have been things going on they didn't know anything about, and you're criticizing coaches and players. I understand that's our system and our society.

"This is not pro sports," Tuberville added. "We don't need to make it into pro sports. We don't need to turn it into something that criticizes 18, 19, and 20-year old kids. This is amateur sports. We don't want to change that. We want to keep it where people keep an open mind about it. John Vaughn for instance, my kicker last week missed five field goals. He's 19-years old. He's taken all kinds of abuse and he's a kicker and those guys have to do that, but we've got to put it back into perspective. Those kids look like they're 30 years old out there on the field and making millions of dollars like the pro guys. They're not doing that. They go to class all week long."

While Patrick made it a point to ask why can't a person point out mistakes players make stating "Who said something that really bothered you? If a guy misses five field goals and you lose the game should that be pointed out?", Tuberville responded by asking a question of his own.

"That's just the scenario that I was talking about with somebody making a mistake," Tuberville said. "I don't listen to that kind of stuff. I just happen to turn on the TV every once in a while and hear people talking about other coaches and players and what they should have done and should not have done. Like you said, it's their job. I made an a statement about an opinion. We get criticized all the time, why can't we criticize back? That's my opinion.

"Sooner or later we have to make enough opinions to get something changed," he added. "I can only go on my experiences. What happened last year after the game, obviously it wasn't a very good national championship game, after that game I never heard anybody say ‘well it might have been a better game if Auburn were here'."

Despite the fact that many Auburn fans remember it exactly as Tuberville stated, Patrick said that Tuberville was wrong in his memory and that ESPN said Auburn would have made a better game. It's old news now for Tuberville, but he took one last parting shot at the network in the hopes that they'll be more responsible in their coverage in the future.

"There are so many people that watch ESPN and ESPN Gameday," Tuberville said. "They do a great job. I'm just saying the bias sometimes overcomes what I think needs to step the bounds of helping people vote. That's all I'm saying."

In the end Patrick took offense to Tuberville's stance and in a roundabout way made the coach's comments even more truthful and telling.

"There should have been four teams last year and you should have been in the mix," Patrick said. "Blame college football. This is the problem. You have lazy voters coach. You have people that don't do their homework, they watch ESPN, then they vote. They see the highlights. Blame the voters and blame the system, don't blame the hand that feeds. You're biting the hand that feeds you here."

Exactly Dan, exactly. If ESPN is the hand that feeds college football, where do voters get their nourishment?

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