Coaching Search Shifts Into High Gear

Things will be busy on Monday as the Auburn Tigers look to complete the football staff as soon as possible.

Auburn, Ala.--With one position left to fill on the coaching staff before spring practice begins on Feb. 18, Coach Tommy Tuberville and new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will meet with the rest of the staff on Monday to talk about several candidates for the position.

One thing that remains to be seen is whether or not the newest coach will take over the linebackers or the secondary for the Tigers. Muschamp has done both is his career that includes stints at LSU and the Miami Dolphins in recent years. That leaves several top names on the board for Auburn to consider.

If Muschamp chooses to coach the secondary there are two candidates that have stepped to the forefront in former Auburn linebacker and current Temple Coach James Willis along with former Miami Coach Vernon Hargreaves.

A top-notch player in his days at Auburn and in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, the 33-year old Willis has coached the last two seasons at Rhode Island following three years at Auburn as a student coach and then as a graduate assistant. Willis recently took at job with the Temple Owls, but it's likely he would take the job if offered by his alma mater.

Another name that has surfaced recently is that of Hargreaves. Recently fired along with longtime offensive line Coach Art Kehoe and offensive coordinator Dan Werner from the Miami staff, Hargreaves has a solid coaching history at Connecticut and Miami since getting a job with the Huskies in 1987. Moving to Miami in 1998 he has coached several top linebackers, including Dan Morgan, D.J. Williams and Jonathan Vilma.

If Muschamp decides to work with the linebackers there are also several top names to watch for in the coming days. One of those is current Miami Hurricanes' secondary coach Tim Walton. Having worked with Muschamp at LSU in 2003 when the Tigers won the national champship, Walton has shown he can get the job done. In 2002 he was the secondary coach for Syracuse and the two seasons before that he was on the staff at Memphis.

A four-year letterwinner at Ohio State, Walton is a native of Grenada, Miss., and has ties to Auburn's main recruiting territories, something Tuberville says will be a plus for coaching candidates.

A two-year starter, Walton was a co-captain for the Buckeyes in 1993 as they finished as Big Ten co-Champions. Before going to Memphis, Walton coached at Bowling Green from 1995-1999.

Another name and maybe the most well-known is that of Chuck Pagano. Currently on the staff of the Oakland Raiders he is considered a longshot because of his recent history in the NFL. He is considered one of the top defensive minds in the country and was the secondary coach and recruiting coordinator for the Miami Hurricanes from 1995-2000. He has been in the NFL since that time at both Cleveland and Oakland.

Pagano also has a history with Tuberville, serving as a Graduate Assistant Coach with the Hurricanes in 1986. That was the same season Tuberville was on the job with the Hurricanes as well.

If Muschamp and Tuberville decide to bring in a linebacker coach, a coach with ties to Muschamp and Auburn is currently living in Auburn. Former Tiger star and assistant coach Kurt Crain, who works for Price Oil Company, has a close relationship with Muschamp, who worked for Muschamp when the new AU coordinator was a graduate assistant coach at Auburn.

Tuberville says he hopes to have a new coach hired this week. Spring practices are scheduled to begin on Feb. 28th and A-Day is March 18th.

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