Franklin Hopes to Add Punch to AU Offense

Tony Franklin talks about how he came to be Auburn's new offensive coordinator.

Auburn, Ala.--After watching Coach Tommy Tuberville's Auburn teams play since 1999, former Troy offensive coordinator Tony Franklin admits he was not expecting a chance to be the offensive coordinator for the Auburn Tigers.

However, on Wednesday he officially accepted the assignment of adding spark to a group that struggled for much of the 2007 regular season. The Tigers go into their bowl game ranked 101st nationally in total offense.

The architect of a version of the spread offense that features a no-huddle attack and throwing the football all over the field at times, it's quite different than the pound it out style incorporated by Auburn much of the last nine years.

However, a phone call from an old coaching friend, Auburn runing backs coach Eddie Gran, got the ball moving on his relocation across the state from Troy to Auburn.

"Sunday I was coming back from Kentucky and Eddie called me," Franklin says. "I have known Eddie for about nine years since I was at Kentucky. We have stayed friends and in contact with each other. That was the first time.

"I was on my way back from Kentucky that day," he adds. "I had been up to watch a quarterback. I came down that day and sat down and talked with the guys that day."

Getting to know Coach Gran while both were running back coaches in the SEC, Franklin had watched plenty of Auburn football over the years with Tuberville at the helm and like most he thought it would remain much like it had been. After speaking with Auburn's coaches on Sunday, he says he knew that Auburn was the place for him because they were looking to score more points, but also to still be a physical football team.

"I was basically a little taken aback when Eddie called me," Franklin says. "It was not something I ever thought would happen. They had won a lot of ball games and championships doing what they do and I think it's a sign that there are some good things out there besides lining up in power things. We'll still do that stuff. I did it at Troy the first year I was there. We didn't do it as much this year because we couldn't. Everybody has a different way of doing things.

"I still believe this, and I say it everywhere, in order to win a championship you have to be able to, number one, play great defense and, number two, you have to be able to run the football. If you look at our stats this year we finished number 35 in the nation in rushing. That was with the idea of always throwing the ball first and running second. We averaged 180-something yards a game rushing."

The last two seasons at Troy, Franklin has served as the quarterback coach and he notes he feels like that is important if you're calling the plays. He'll continue to do that at Auburn and says he doesn't have any staff changes planned at the moment.

"I don't foresee that at all," Franklin says of making changes on the offensive staff. "He's got a great coaching staff, guys that have been with him for a long time. They have been loyal to him and are well respected throughout the nation. I look forward to learning from them just like I did from my last staff."

Beginning his new job immediately, Franklin says he's not certain of his immediate duties other than watching and helping to evaluate the practices leading up to the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Clemson on New Year's Eve. He adds that he'll spend much of his time getting a feel for the players, but will make some suggestions when necessary. The Tigers are scheduled to return to practice on Friday.

"Basically, I just want to be there and kind of watch and get a head start on evaluating the talent for this spring," Franklin says. "If I've got a suggestion that maybe we can do, a little wrinkle or something, that would be good. Mainly I'll just try to see what the players are like and get around them and let them know me. I might even give them some advice that would help. That would be good.

"I want to thank Coach Tuberville for having confidence in what we've done over the last few years to bring me to Auburn to take this style of offense into the Southeastern Conference," he adds. "I'm looking forward to it. I would like to take the time to make sure every body understands how much I appreciate Coach (Larry) Blakeney and the Troy family did for me."

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