Secret Steps Lead to Embarrassment

Auburn Trustee Byron Franklin
Auburn Trustee Byron Franklin
Housel Refuses Comment Last Friday
Housel Refuses Comment Last Friday

Leading up to Wednesday's announcement from Auburn President William F. Walker, there was speculation statewide, maybe even across the country, that Tuberville's days as coach were numbered.

Last Friday during WSFA's Iron Bowl Special Auburn Athletic Director David Housel didn't want to talk about Coach Tommy Tuberville's job status when asked about the situation by WSFA's Jeff Shearer.  "Jeff, you know good and well the position I've taken the whole week.  I'm not going to dignify all that stuff."

Just the night before, Housel , President William Walker and two trustees were in Louisville interviewing Coach BobbyPetrino.

Now new details are coming out about some top secret steps that were taken behind the scenes. Many people feel, including some of the parties involved, that they've left a black eye on the university's reputation.

At the time of the biggest football game in the state, and while Tommy Tuberville was getting Auburn players ready, the school's leaders were flying under the radar to possibly replace him.

And now individuals involved in the subterfuge are apologizing. "First of all, I just want to let everyone know that I made a mistake and met with representatives from Auburn University last week. I want to apologize.," says Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino, a former Auburn offensive coordinator.

Auburn Trustee Byron Franklin, who flew with Walker to meet Petrino says it's an embarrassment. "First of all it was an embarrassment for us as an institution and I personally would like to apologize to coach Tuberville and the athletic department and all of those involved in the Auburn family."

"We all knew each other, have known each other, I think it was a very casual meeting , just 20 minutes or so... and just asking him would he be available to discuss it. No decisions had been made and no definites had been resolved or answered," added Franklin.

Petrino's name was given to the Auburn president by a firm hired to come up with a list of candidates. Apparently Coach Tuberville wasn't aware a list of his possible replacements had been made.

And, the University of Louisville wasn't notified that its coach was on the list. The top secret nature of the meeting is being criticized at the highest level of state government.

In an interview with WSFA, Governor Bob Riley says, "I think Auburn owes the University of Louisville an apology for doing this without notification up there. And I think if you look back over the past two or three weeks, I think it is an embarrassment over the way this whole process has been handled. I think everyone deserves at least a hearing that a job search is going on. It should never happen concurrently."

And what are Auburn fans to think? Wednesday they had plenty to say. At one of the hottest sports grills around WSFA's Bryan Henry found customers serving up a healthy dose of criticism for Auburn university. "The administration needs to resign at this point," said Auburn graduate Joe Sellers. Another football fan said, "I don't think it's a good thing for Auburn to be going around doing that.

The talk over lunch was about the ultimate public relations nightmare, at least that's the way some people were seeing events. Kim Thielke likened the situation to the way the Dallas Cowboys treated late Coach Tom Landry. "They went totally behind his back and I think it was kind of a surprise or shock when they let him go. And as a Cowboy fan... I almost became a non-Cowboy fan for that."

Now the ball's in Tommy Tuberville's court.  After all this, will Tuberville want to remain on the Plains?