Auburn Has Vacancy On Football Staff

An Auburn assistant has taken a position with a college in the Western Athletic Conference.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville is looking for a new tight ends coach with graduate assistant coach Tony Levine taking a job at Louisiana Tech.

Levine has accepted a full-time position on the staff of Coach Jack Bicknell at Louisiana Tech, where he will be in charge of the tight ends and special teams.

Levine, who is 29, joined the Auburn staff in March 2000 as a graduate assistant coach after working as a restricted earnings coach at Southwest Texas State University. Levine coached tight ends from 1997-99 at Southwest Texas State University, where he also served as recruiting coordinator in 1999.

"I am really going to miss Auburn, the coaches and players and their families in particular," says Levine, who was given an unusual amount of responsibility for a graduate assistant coach. "Coach Tuberville was very supportive and I thank him for the opportunity."

Tony Levine talks to tight end Robert Johnson during two-a-days last August.

Tuberville says that Levine did a good job for Auburn and adds, "This is a great opportunity for Tony. It is tough for young coaches to get full-time jobs these days and I am really happy he was able to land a full-time position. When Joe Pannunzio left to become head coach at Murray State and we made the decision to replace him with a defensive coach, that meant we needed a graduate assistant to coach the tight ends and Tony had experience doing that before he got here."

Levine says he is excited about coaching under Bicknell, who has built an exciting offense at Louisiana Tech, as Auburn fans know very well. The Bulldogs lost to the Tigers in a wild 48-41 shootout at Jordan-Hare Stadium last season.

The former Auburn coach says that contacts he made with Bicknell and his staff members at one-back coaching clinics and conventions over the years opened the door for an interview at Louisiana Tech. He says that Bicknell spent several hours discussing all aspects of special teams play with Levine during his job interview in Ruston, La. "All of the time I spent with Eddie Gran learning about coaching special teams really was important to me landing the job," Levine says.

Levine began coaching in 1996 at Highland Park High in St. Paul, Minn., the school he attended prior to playing football at the University of Minnesota, where he was a three-year letterman and two-time Big 10 All-Academic team honoree.

Tiger Ticket Extra: Levine says he will particularly miss having the opportunity to coach an exciting group of Auburn tight ends this season in senior Lorenzo Diamond, junior Robert Johnson, redshirt freshman Cooper Wallace and true freshman Justin Bruce. New offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino is expected to feature the tight ends in the passing attack this fall. "A lot of people are talking about Cooper, but they have to remember he is just an 18-year-old freshman," Levine says. "I think Lorenzo and Robert are ready to have big seasons. Cooper is going to help, too, and I think Justin has a lot of potential."...Former Auburn walk-on RaShan Frost, who worked as a student assistant coach at AU last season, has accepted a post as a restricted earning assistant coach at Illinois State...Tuberville says that he will probably have a replacement for Levine's graduate assistant post in an approximately a week.

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