CFB Historian Chimes In On Tuberville

USC has now been stripped of another trophy — the Grantland Rice Trophy, awarded by the Football Writers Association of America each year. The 2004 trophy will be vacated and not given to runner-up Auburn. RP.com caught up with college football historian Keith Dunnavant to get his take on coach Tommy Tuberville's move from the SEC to the Big 12 and the missing awards of some other coaches.

Keith Dunnavant is the editor-in-chief of www.crimsonreplay.com; and author of five books. His latest is. The Missing Ring:  How Bear Bryant and the 1966 Alabama Crimson Tide Were Denied College Football's Most Elusive Prize

RP:  We enjoyed your book about the 1966 Alabama football team being denied the National Championship. Coach Tuberville can also tell a story about being shafted by the voters.

Dunnavant:  Yes he can. All Auburn fans were justifiably unhappy as a victim of the flawed BCS system.

RP:  Do you think coach Tuberville at Texas Tech is a good fit?

Dunnavant:  I think he'll be a great fit at Texas Tech.  He is a very good football coach who successfully rebuilt two programs in the toughest football conference in America.  I'm sure he believes Texas Tech is the right situation for him or he wouldn't have pursued the job.

RP:  He had great success at Auburn.  What caused his problems there?

Dunnavant:  Auburn people lost faith in him because his teams underperformed after the brilliant 2004 season.  He just couldn't keep up with the high expectations.  Under pressure from the fan base, he brought in Coach Tony Franklin from Troy University to install a spread offense, but it didn't pan out in the short time he was at Auburn. 

RP:  What are the keys to Coach Tuberville's success?

Dunnavant:  Coach Tuberville is a great defensive mind, an excellent recruiter and knows how to run a quality program.  There were plenty of schools in the SEC going through disciplinary and compliance problems the past decade, but you saw almost none of that in either of Tuberville's programs. 

RP:  How do you think Tubs will do in the Big 12?

Dunnavant:  My only question is how much fight he has left in him.  He believes he has enough, or he wouldn't have gotten back into the game after a year off.  I'm sure he was very frustrated about the Auburn situation and doesn't want that to be the last chapter in his coaching resume.   He's a fearless competitor, and he's rested & hungry.  It's going to be hard to keep him down.   

RP:  Tuberville is having some early recruiting success since his arrival in January.  What kind of reputation did he have as an SEC recruiter?

Dunnavant: He was an excellent recruiter at both Ole Miss and Auburn.  A number of his players have gone to the NFL.

RP:  Do you believe coach Tuberville will be able to adapt to the wide open offenses in the Big 12?

Dunnavant:  That's the big question, isn't it?  His attempt to change from a running offense to the spread at Auburn didn't work out, but it also wasn't given enough time to succeed. 

But in Tech's case, the players and system are already there.  He brought in coach Neal Brown, also from Troy University, who has successfully run the spread.  So ideally all he'll need to do is keep finding the players to keep it working.  And build a great defense, which he knows how to do. 

RP:  Were you aware of the talk about Mike Leach replacing coach Tuberville when he left Auburn? 

Dunnavant:  It's funny how things work out.  When he was at Ole Miss, coach Tuberville was being talked about in Alabama circles about the guy who might replace Mike DuBose when the Crimson Tide was struggling. 

Instead, he went to Auburn, their bitter rival, and had great success. 

Instead of Mike Leach following Coach Tuberville at Auburn, he's the one who replaced Mike Leach.


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