The whole issue was kind of a sideshow until Monday, when ESPN analyst Andre Ware said on the air that Dennis Franchione was out at Texas A&M and that Tuberville was the No. 1 candidate to replace him.
I'll repeat what I've said over and over. I don't believe Tuberville will leave Auburn for Texas A&M or anywhere else. Over the course of the day, I contemplated reasons why he would stay and why he would go.
Reasons to stay:
1. Tuberville is comfortable and secure at Auburn. His sons have grown up in Auburn and don't want to leave. He just moved into a 9,000-square foot house that could only be termed a mansion.
2. Over the next 2-3 years, the Tigers could be stronger than at any time since he arrived, with the possible exception of 2004. There is talent aplenty among the younger players.
3. Tuberville has built a mature and solid program at Auburn. He and his staff have established strong relationships with high school coaches in their recruiting area. They might be ranked high or low by recruiting services, but they aren't going to have a bad recruiting class any year.
4. With one more year, Tuberville and the five remaining assistants who came with him will be fully vested in the Alabama retirement system. That's bigger deal than you might think, especially for the assistants.
5. Does he really want to tackle rebuilding another dispirited program, which is what Texas A&M is? I don't think so.
6. Even as currently written, Tuberville has a very lucrative contract with a large buyout that makes it all but impossible for him to be fired.
7. Recruiting in the same state with Alabama is hard, but it's not as hard as going head-to-head with Texas and Oklahoma.
8. Legions of Auburn fans showed their loyalty to Tuberville when they stood up for him in the biggest crisis of his career in 2003.
9. Partly because of what happened in 2003, Tuberville gets virtually no interference from anyone. The Board of Trustees is not part of his daily life. Believe it or not, that's quite unusual for a college football coach in a big-time program.
10. I don't believe Tuberville wants to coach more than about five years after this season. He would be expected to make more of a commitment than that if he took the job at Texas A&M.
Reasons to leave:
1. There is speculation that Texas A&M could be prepared to make him the highest-paid coach in college football.
2. Texas A&M is awash in oil money. It would probably be easier to get what he wants in terms of facilities, etc.
3. The state of Texas is loaded with talented high school players.
That's about all I can come up with in reasons he would consider leaving. Would a godfather financial offer turn his head? I'm sure it would, but in the end, I don't believe it's about the money with Tuberville. Far more than many in his profession, he's a family man before he's a football coach.
He's at a place where he can win and has won. He might not win a national championship at Auburn, but he knows it's possible. He's built his program steadily and built it the right way. Would he walk away for an extra million or so a year when the immediate future is so promising?
I don't believe he would.
It would be good for the players and good for a nervous fan base if Tuberville, athletics director Jay Jacobs and president Jay Gogue would sit down next week, hammer this thing out and get it over with. After all, there is an open date before the finale against Alabama. There is no indication that's going to happen, which is unfortunate.
But in the end, I still say Tuberville will be Auburn's coach and Texas A&M will look elsewhere for a replacement for Franchione. I really don't believe there's a lot of question about it. If I'm wrong, it won't be the first time and I'll readily admit it.
For now, the two biggest games of the season are at hand. If the Tigers win them both, it will have been one heck of a season. If they lose one or even lose both, the future will still be promising.
Looking for the perfect Christmas present? Phillip's book, "The Auburn Experience," an oversized coffee table book published in December 2004, features more than 300 slick pages of stories and photographs of many of Auburn's greatest traditions, teams, players and coaches in every sport. The book is available for $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. For orders of multiple books, there will be just one $5 charge for shipping and handling. Send check or money order made payable to Phillip Marshall to The Auburn Experience, P.O. Box 968, Auburn, AL 36831.