StatTiger: Tuberville Keeping His Promise

Columnist Stuart Carter breaks down the Tuberville years at Auburn to analyze how the head coach has done since taking over the program beginning with the 1999 season. Tuberville is expected to field another strong team in 2006.

When Coach Tommy Tuberville was hired to become the next Auburn football coach in 1999, he promised to build the program back to its status during the late 80's. It was a determined promise to do it the right way and without shortcuts. He knew the process would be slow and there would be a few dips along the way, but he knew he could deliver if just given the time.

For a brief moment in 2003, it appeared that his opportunity might end, but cooler heads prevailed and Tuberville enters his eighth season as Auburn University's head football coach.

Tuberville has built a solid foundation in recruiting, creating a sound-working environment with high school coaches around the South. There are fewer off field issues involving Auburn football players and Auburn's graduation rate continues to improve. Tuberville's staff can look each recruit in the eye, promising a quality education and a possible shot at the NFL if they're good enough.

From 1996-1999, Auburn compiled the 44th best win percentage in Division I-A football and it's improved to 13th from 2000 through 2005. There is no doubt that Tuberville has done it the right way with positive results.

Tuberville is entering his eighth season as head coach of the Tigers.

Even the most successful college coaches have made mistakes and Tuberville is no exception. He has made his share of mistakes over the years, but he's also learned from them, improving as a coach and improving his team at the same time. Make no mistake about it; Tommy Tuberville is a better coach entering the 2006 season, compared to when he first arrived in 1999.

End of the Terry Bowden Era

During the final three years of the Terry Bowden era, Auburn compiled a 21-15-0 record. Recruiting had become a major issue for Coach Bowden and Auburn was making more news off the field than on the field. From 1996-1998, Auburn was sixth in scoring offense, seventh in scoring defense, sixth in total offense and eighth in total defense within the Southeastern Conference. After compiling a 28-5-1 record from 1993-1995, it was clear what direction the program was headed and a change was needed.

Ranking Auburn within the SEC

Over the last ten years Auburn has hovered above the average mark in terms of its rankings in offensive scoring, points allowed, yardage gained and yardage allowed. Taking the final rankings in these statistical categories over the past ten seasons, here is the average ranking of all 12 SEC teams.

Scoring Offense:

Florida…………….. 2.70

Tennessee…………. 4.10

Georgia……………. 5.10

LSU……………….. 5.20

Arkansas…………... 6.00

Auburn…………….. 6.00

Ole Miss…………… 6.60

Kentucky…………... 6.70

Alabama…………… 7.10

S. Carolina………… 8.90

Miss State…………. 9.00

Vanderbilt…………. 10.50

Over the past ten seasons, Auburn finished with an average ranking of sixth place in offensive scoring, tying the Tigers with Arkansas for fifth place. Auburn's lowest ranking came in 1998, when it finished 11th in the SEC in scoring offense. For the past two seasons, Auburn has been No. 1 in scoring offense under Al Borges. Its no wonder the Florida Gators had the highest ranking with six seasons under Steve Spurrier.

Scoring Defense:

Tennessee………….. 4.00

Georgia……………. 4.10

Florida…………….. 4.40

LSU……………….. 4.60 Auburn……………. 4.80

Alabama…………... 4.80

S. Carolina………… 7.00

Arkansas…………... 7.50

Miss State…………. 7.80

Ole Miss…………… 8.00

Vanderbilt…………. 9.70

Kentucky…………... 11.30

Auburn finished tied with Alabama for fifth place over the past 10 seasons. 1996 was the worst season for Auburn in terms of points allowed, finishing eighth in the SEC. The Tigers were No. 1 in 2004 under Coach Gene Chizik. Florida and LSU were the only two teams to lead the league in scoring defense, two times over the past 10 seasons.

Total Offense (Yards per game):

Florida………………. 2.30

Georgia……………… 3.90

Tennessee …………… 4.70

LSU…………………. 5.20

Auburn………………. 6.10

Ole Miss…………….. 6.60

Kentucky……………. 6.90

Arkansas……………. 7.30

Alabama……………. 7.40

S. Carolina…………. 8.60

Vanderbilt………….. 9.50

Miss State………….. 9.50

Over the past ten seasons, Auburn finished in fifth place in terms of offensive yards per game. In 1998 and 1999, the Tigers finished 11th in the SEC in total offense. They were #No. 2 in 2004 and No. 1 in 2005. Florida finished in first place four times and at least second place in seven of the last ten seasons.

Total Defense (Yards allowed per game):

Tennessee…………… 3.00

Alabama…………….. 4.30

Florida……………… 4.60

Auburn……………... 5.60

Georgia…………….. 6.20

LSU………………… 6.20

Miss State………….. 6.50

S. Carolina…………. 6.60

Arkansas…………… 6.80

Ole Miss…………… 8.00

Vanderbilt…………. 9.10

Kentucky………….. 11.10

Auburn finished in fourth place over the past decade with a season best of No. 1 in 2000 and a season low of 12th in 1996. Tennessee finished no lower than third in eight of the last ten seasons.

Will Muschamp is Auburn's new defensive coordinator for 2006.

As columnist Mark Green has pointed out in the past, Coach John Chavis of the University of Tennessee is one of the most underrated defensive coordinators in the country. With his defensive background, Tuberville appreciates the importance of a good defense. Over the past three seasons, only LSU's defense has been more stingy than Auburn in terms of scoring defense.

Charting the improvement

Just looking at Auburn's win and loss record, most can see how much Auburn has improved under Coach Tuberville. Another aspect to consider is Auburn's improvement in their rankings within the conference during various time periods over the past decade.

1996-1998:

Offensive scoring……….. 6th place

Defensive scoring………. 7th place

Total offense……………. 6th place

Total defense……………. 8th place

1999-2005:
Offensive scoring……… 6th place

Defensive scoring……… 2nd place

Total offense…………… 4th place

Total defense………..…. 3rd place

2002-2005:

Offensive scoring………. 1st place

Defensive scoring………. 2nd place

Total offense…………… 2nd place

Total defense…………… 5th place

2004-2005:

Offensive scoring………… 1st place

Defensive scoring………… 2nd place

Total offense……………… 1st place

Total defense…………….. 4th place

Tommy Tuberville has been labeled a "CEO" head coach and his success has come largely through his ability to assemble a top-notch coaching staff. Certainly he has made some questionable hires, but he has quickly made the right changes when needed. It's no surprise the marked improvement came with the hire of Bobby Petrino and Gene Chizik in 2002 followed up with the subsequent hiring of Al Borges and now, Will Muschamp.

Coach Tuberville is conservative by nature, but he's now allowing more freedom to his coordinators to call their game plans. Auburn now has a veteran offensive coordinator who is innovative in his game planning and wide open in his play calling. With the addition of Coach Muschamp, Auburn has a young and aggressive defensive coordinator giving Auburn the ability to attack on both sides of the ball. It looks like a great time to be an Auburn Tiger.

2006 Inside the Auburn Tigers Auburn Football Guide


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