Tuberville: "It's Been A Great Year"

Auburn has 22 victories in the last two seasons, which is the best two-year total in Auburn history.

Auburn, Ala.—-If LSU defeats Arkansas Friday afternoon then the SEC Championship game will be complete with the Bengal Tigers taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta. Just because Auburn won't be there doesn't mean it hasn't been a successful season and coach Tommy Tuberville says that may not be an indication of the best team in the league this year.

"I think we're playing as good," Tuberville says. "If you look at LSU we played well against them, we just came up tied in overtime. Then we go to Athens and beat them. That's not the way this deal works and we all know that. 7-1 in this league normally gets you to the championship game. That's my fault. We lost on the road and unfortunately for us we're on the outside looking in. We're not going to shed any tears because this has been a great year."

In finishing the regular season 9-2, Auburn has done something never before done by a team that went 13-0 the previous year in the SEC. Every time that has occurred the next season featured at least three losses. Tuberville says that's a testament to how good this team is at the moment.

"Someone pointed out the other 13-0 teams that have gone before us, the next year they went 8-3," Tuberville says. "We knew we had a good team. We knew this was a tough year for us. When you go to LSU and to Georgia, the two best teams in our conference not counting us, it's a hard year.

"This is a successful year, especially when you beat your two biggest rivals to end the year," Tuberville adds. "We do have some momentum. We do have a good team."

Tuberville's teams have won or shared the SEC West five time in the last six years.

It's hard to believe that Tuberville and the Tigers stand now as one of the top programs in the country after the strange 2003 season. At that time the Tigers were limping to finish the season and Tuberville was on the verge of losing his job. Since defeating Alabama in his final home game that year, Tuberville's Tigers have won 24 their last 26 games and don't appear to be slowing down any time soon.

"We knew we had good players coming and we kind of stuck with our guns on what we've been doing," Tuberville says. "You never know how your guys are going to materialize, how they're going to grow up, how they're going to mature. We've been fortunate that some guys have stepped up. For instance, this year Wayne Dickens it was his turn to play and he's played well.

"On the offensive side you've got a guy that was a walk-on that has stepped in at one of your most important positions at center and has turned out to be a heck of a player…the thing we've been working on is depth. We might not have a lot of great players, but we've got a lot of solid, good players. As long as you keep it like that you're going to have a chance to win."

With the victory over Alabama Saturday, Auburn's 15 seniors have a career record of 39-11. The win total matches the senior class from 1989 for the most by a group of seniors in Auburn history. The group is also part of teams that have won 12 of their last 17 games against opponents ranked in the Top 10. Tuberville says that what this senior class has accomplished will never be forgotten by Auburn.

"That doesn't happen at many schools" Tuberville says. "It happened at Miami when we were winning every year, but the parity in college football, you can see the scores each week. This group has been solid. They've had an opportunity to learn from the other seniors they've played behind. This group doesn't have to take a backseat to any of those senior groups."

All that is left now is to wait for the Tigers. If no help comes from Arkansas there's a good possibility that Auburn will wind up in the Capitol One Bowl in Orlando where it would face either Ohio State or Wisconsin. Tuberville says that as far as he's concerned this team deserves a look at a BCS berth because of what it has done on the field.

"We would love to get in the BCS, but there's no sense lobbying to get in that thing," Tuberville says. "It didn't help last year. It looks like we may be a step or two out of getting in thing against this year. Things could turn around. This would be an awfully good group to play an at-large somewhere. We'll take a lot of fans."

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