Focus Is On The Field, Coaches Say

Auburn coaches Tommy Tuberville, Greg Knox and Don Dunn talk about the Tigers' disappointing season.

Auburn, Ala.--With all of the rumors and speculation swirling around the world of college football, Auburn was bound to be one of the targets considering a disappointing 4-5 season and the distinct possibility of not making a bowl game this year.

That has made the Tigers and coaching staff a target on radio talk shows and for opposing coaching staffs on the recruiting trail this year, but Tuberville and assistants Greg Knox and Don Dunn say it's something they're not concerned with as the Tigers prepare for Saturday's homecoming game.

"You're going to have ups and downs in this business," Tuberville said. "I think a lot of people understand that. I'm partly to blame for it. We've had some unfortunate injury problems. I do appreciate everybody's support and we've had a tremendous amount. You never worry about anything but getting better, but my phone has rang and my e-mail has been lit up and I appreciate it."

Much of that has come from Auburn fans and alumni showing support for Tuberville and the job he's done in his time as the coach of the Tigers. He noted that it's helped not only with the team and coaching staff, but also on the recruiting trail.

"The negative stuff is just hard to fight," Tuberville said. "If we had not had as many recruits commit it would be different. Obviously, it would have hurt us on the ones we were still recruiting. It has been good. We've had a lot of good things said about us on radio and talk shows. We've had some negative things said about us. That's going to happen when you haven't won as many games.

"I think the program has earned that support over a nine-year period," he added. "You don't just judge something over a few weeks. Obviously, that will happen at the end of the year. Right now for recruiting the positive stuff has been very supportive."

While Tuberville's name has been brought up for criticism this fall, the assistant coaches, particularly on offense, have become a point of emphasis with the Tigers struggling to score points. With the Tigers getting a new offensive coordinator for the 2009 season many have wondered if the current offensive staff will be around once again. Knox said for him it's something he can't be concerned with at the moment and he has no doubts he'll be back coaching at Auburn next season.

"You can't worry about what is said on the outside because there is nothing we can do about that," Knox said. "We have to worry about what we can control. We can't control the outside rumors. You can't let that bother you or distract you.

"It's not about me," he added. "It's about the players. I tell them the same thing. You can't worry about what other people say because everybody has an opinion about everything in life. Everybody has their opinion about everyone in life. You live off the reputation you build. You can't worry about what other people say.

"If you're going to worry about what everybody says about you then you're going to have a miserable life. We can't worry about what people say on the outside, we just control what we do on the inside."

While the offensive staff has taken the brunt of the heat in 2008 the defense hasn't been immune. When talk of change comes about it affects everyone from top to bottom on a staff. Auburn's defensive line coach, Dunn said it's a matter of doing your job and not being concerned with what you can't control.

Don Dunn has coached Auburn defensive linemen since the 1999 season.

"I don't have time to worry about that stuff," the veteran coach said. "You can't worry about that. First of all if you're in my business you've got a job to do and that job is to get your players to play the best they can play every rep. Every rep is important. That's all we're focusing on.

"We're here from five in the morning until midnight," Dunn added. "We don't have time to listen to all that. What's the use of it. It's out of our hands. We've just go to try to get our players to play the best they can play. I don't worry about that stuff. Life is too short for me to worry about all that junk. I'm worried about our players and getting Auburn football is back in the win column. We need a win."

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