So, as you may have heard, in last night's latest episode of General hAUspital Tubby got together with the Jays for a meeting that resulted in the following statement from the Auburn athletic department:
Like Jay (uh, Coulter), it's my read that the "under his leadership" implies that the operative plan is for Tubby to return in 2009--if not yet exactly setting it in stone. As I've stated repeatedly before--and as recently as yesterday--this is the course I'd like Auburn to take.
"President Gogue, Jay Jacobs and Coach Tuberville did meet Monday to have their annual end of the season meeting. Further conversations between Jay Jacobs and Coach Tuberville will take place in the following days to discuss Coach Tuberville's plan to make improvements for the program moving forward under his leadership."
But I want to make clear: after watching the Iron Bowl, the reason I want Tubby to return doesn't have a whole lot to do with my assessment of what he'll be able to do with Auburn's football program going forward. Rereading the same Jay post I quoted yesterday afternoon, I find myself in (almost) the exact same ambivalent boat:
I've been outspoken in my support of Tuberville. He's been the perfect ambassador for the university. He's won on the field, his players have stayed out of trouble and they perform in the classroom. It would be hard to ask much more from a coach than what he's given Auburn during the past 10 years.Jay and I differ on the "perhaps"--I am decidedly behind Tubby getting his shot at making amends. But if I believe (as I do) that it truly is "hard to see things getting significantly better next season," that (as I wrote yesterday) "I'm past the point of genuinely expecting Tubby to accomplish much" with that shot, I realize it does beg the question: with Auburn at such a critical juncture, with decisive action needed ASAP to slow Saban's momentum and pull Auburn out of the muck they've slipped into, why wait? Why prolong the inevitable? If a change is coming, why not make it as early as possible, when it can make the most difference?
But the future of this program is not about the past. It's about tomorrow and that's an ugly picture at the moment ...
This is not a one year job. This week's discussion should not be about giving Tuberville another season, but rather do they have faith he can rebuild the program over the next couple of years. With the team in its current state, it's hard to see things getting significantly better next season.
Do Auburn officials, alumni and fans have a strong enough stomach to go through this process with Tuberville? ... Saturday was no aberration. Alabama passed Auburn so quickly that none of us saw it coming. This falls squarely on the shoulders of Tuberville.
Does he deserve another chance? Perhaps. Would it be an outrage if he were fired this week? I'm not so sure anymore.
One very simple reason: it's the right thing to do.
Even in college football, there are bigger things than college football, most of which fall under an umbrella we might call "fairness." Fair play, coaches being fair to the players, administration being fair to the fans, etc. Even in college football, what's fair is fair.
And what's fair is to give Tommy Tuberville his chance to make amends. He's earned that much. Is it the best thing for Auburn football in terms of wins and losses, in terms of the bottom line? I'm going to go ahead and say probably not (though there are few times I've hoped so badly to be wrong). Is it the best thing for Auburn football in terms of what ought to be done, in terms of what's fair and what's right and good? Yes. Certainly, unequivocally, yes.
And hey, who knows? Maybe Tubby will earn himself a second mulligan all over again.