Tuberville Upbeat About AU Football Future

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Back on campus briefly on Wednesday before catching a plane to go recruiting in the state of Florida, Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville said rumors that he was considering a move to Arkansas or any other college were much ado about nothing.

Tuberville and AU athletic director Jay Jacobs agreed to a two-year contract extension for the ninth-year AU head coach on Tuesday in New York City, where both men were attending the National Football Foundation's annual awards ceremony.

"I am glad this is behind us," Tuberville said on Wednesday. "I think there was a lot of misunderstanding in terms of what this was all about. In being a head football coach in major college football, obviously you are always looking to improve and make things better for your coaches, the people around you, for your football team and for your university. That is basically what this has been about.

"As we all know, in the last few years we have changed leadership here on our campus. Jay, taking over as athletic director, and Dr. (Jay) Gogue taking over as president. They offered an extension. There was never any doubt I was coming back. It was in terms of whether I wanted to add two more years on my contract.

"We sat down, we had discussions. They were a little bit drawn out. You can't do them all in one day. Of course, I had some things to do. In the long run, we wanted to do what is best for Auburn and for Auburn's football program and athletic department.

"We came to a conclusion that some things could be worked out. My family and I, and our coaches, decided to add two years on to the contract. I think it is a very generous contract in terms of what we are given, but there are also some things we will obviously earn over the next years--six years.

"I am looking forward to it," Tuberville said. "You get a new energy inside of you when you feel like people are behind you. I want to thank the thousands of people who sent me emails, letters, phone calls and put things on my porch at home. It was mind-boggling, but it makes you feel good to know that people really want you to be around and they feel like you have done a good job...which we have been here nine years. We have worked awfully hard to make it better and we think it is better, but we think it can be a lot better.

"I just wanted to be on the same page with our leaders in terms of what they wanted to accomplish and how I felt we could get better," he said. "That is what we have done. Jay and I talked yesterday (Tuesday) for two or three hours and we were both on the same page as Dr. Gogue was a week earlier. We are looking forward to it, putting that behind us, knowing now that everybody can go back to business, and get on with getting ready for the bowl game coming up."

Last week Tuberville said his talks with Jacobs and Gogue were also about the future of program, particularly facilities, as well as his coaching staff.

The Auburn coach said, "If you are going to make a commitment, you want to know what kind of commitment your leaders have and the commitment is there."

Tuberville noted that for 2008 the players will get new locker rooms and showers and the training room and equipment rooms will be remodeled at the football complex. The players will temporarily move to the indoor facility for their locker rooms.

The coach also noted that work has already started on remodeling the coaching staff's offices. Construction is scheduled to start soon on additional office spaces at the football complex where the Lovelace Museum is located.

Tuberville noted that he is excited that one of his pet projects, improved on-campus housing for football players, is going to be a reality in 2009 with the football team reserving space in a new upscale, on-campus dorm project that is being built next door to where the new basketball arena is going to be located.

Longer range projects that Tuberville said he has talked about with Jacobs and Gogue include a new fieldhouse, most likely at the site of the old Wilbur Hutsell track, along with expansion of Jordan-Hare Stadium. AU has been studying plans to double-deck one of the end zones and add additional scholarship donor seating.

"All I wanted to do was sit down in terms of facilities and give my ideas and get their feedback on what they thought is feasible for us in the next five or six years," Tuberville said. "There is no doubt everybody is on the same page.

"Jay has done a good job since he has been here," the coach said of the athletic director. "We have redone (the football auditorium). He has done a lot of things I didn't even ask him to do. He has been very proactive. We are redoing all of the coaches office as we speak--painting, floors, furniture. It has been, what, 15 or 16 years since we moved into this building and he understands the need for redoing things.

"We are moving the museum and redoing the offices. A lot of things are going on. The only thing I was concerned of was the time span and what we are going to do. We have a master plan. It has been talked about with the trustees. They have looked at it. In future, possibly something over on the old track in terms of the indoor. That is not on the front burner, it would be on the back burner, but it will be something in the future we will have to do in terms of upgrading facilities because we are going to need more room."

Commenting on his assistant coaches, Tuberville said it is a big deal that his original AU coaching staff will be finishing its 10th year at AU, which will vest those assistants in the state retirement system. The head coach noted that is a big deal to those staff members.

He said that he talked with AU officials about the possibility of pay raises and incentives for the assistant coaches. "They are not looking for huge raises," Tuberville said. "What they are looking for is to have incentives like head coaches and athletic directors or whatever. I think once you have paid your dues at one school, and been around for a while and people know you and you have done a good job, you have to look for ways to help them out."

Tuberville, who also participated in a press conference with Chick-fil-A Bowl officials on Wednesday, said he isn't certain when he will sign the contract extension. He noted it took about a month for that to happen after the 2004 season before all of the paperwork details were completed.

The Tigers, who are 8-4, will play 9-3 Clemson in Atlanta on New Year's Eve. If Auburn wins the game, it will be the program's 50th victory in the past five seasons.

Commenting on his football team and the challenge of competing in the SEC, Tuberville said, "It is hard. This conference is very hard. We all noticed this year in college football there is parity--more parity out there every day. We want to continue to win like we have been winning--even more.

"It is going to be very hard to keep up this pace, year in and year out. Everybody is looking for the golden key, so to speak, in terms of finding the right answers to how can you be as successful really as we have been. We won eight games at Auburn this year. That is not what we are looking for at Auburn in any means as the head coach, assistants or the football team.

"We know where we want to get. We know how to get there," Tuberville said. "We just want to make sure everybody is on the same page. This was a great for all of us to get together, look each other in the eye and say, ‘This is what we want to do, this is where want to get to, this is how we are going to do it, everybody give their thoughts.' We all agreed so we said let's go and get it done."

One of the major rumors concerning the talks between Tuberville and Jacobs was that Tuberville wanted to reduce or eliminate his unusually high contract buyout, which is currently at $6 million. Under the new contract it stays the same and will drop to $4 million by the end of the revised contract that will run through 2013 with the two-year extension.

"Jay and I probably spent five minutes in the entire discussion about the buyout--what they expected," Tuberville said. "You want to make sure everybody is fair. When I agreed to this...what was this, five years ago, we felt like it was best for both sides to have the same buyout. I am not in disagreement. I am not going anywhere. I am not looking to go anywhere so it protects me as much as it protects them because you know how things go. Sometimes people lose patience. They have made a big commitment to me--restated that commitment in the last couple of weeks. I feel great about it and I hope they do."

Tuberville, who is 53 years old, said he is looking forward to coaching for years to come. Last week he said he hoped to be head coach of the Tigers for at least nine more years.

"I am going to coach as long as I can get the job done," he said. "I am not going to be one just standing around. As long as I feel good about it, I am going to give it all I have got and I feel like I have got many more good years left."

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