Perhaps the most dramatic moment of Auburn University's football season played out Monday, not on the football field but at Auburn's athletic complex in front of reporters instead of opposing players.
It's been two weeks of uncertainty for Auburn fans, players and even the coach himself. Monday, Tommy Tuberville made it very clear that he will remain in Auburn. Not only did Tuberville say he's staying, he also made it clear what has happened for the past few weeks is behind him.
"I never considered leaving Auburn, no I didn't...I came here for a reason and I'd never walk out on these kids and the people in this university," said Tuberville.
"If it took this to happen for us to become closer together...more than we have over the last century...Then, so be it," added Tuberville.
During an emotional news conference, Tuberville said he never knew about the secret trip by the school's president, athletic director and others until well after the fact.
Tuberville's not looking back or pointing fingers. Tuberville says his eyes are focused on the job ahead. "I know we've all been through a tough ride. But now, I'm looking forward to getting on the recruiting trail and talking to recruits...I know people are going to try and use this against us in recruiting, but they had better recruit awful hard because they are going to have to beat me...I'm going to be selling Auburn University and we've got the best university that I've ever worked for...This is the place I want to be and we're going to get it done and we are going to win the national championship and you can write that."
Auburn's coach took the high road on Monday refusing to take any of the multiple opportunities to criticize Auburn President William F. Walker.
"We talked about a lot of things today...Dr. Walker said he made a major mistake and we talked about it and basically it came down to communication between him and myself and that's usually what happens...I have no ill feelings toward anybody...we're all in this together," Tuberville remarked. Tuberville says Walker apologized for what happened, and he accepted.
In the end, Tuberville says it's all about the fans. "I want to thank them for all the thousands of e-mails, faxes, and phone calls...and all the love that they've shown me... and it's not about a coach, a football team, it's about a university."
Auburn President William Walker still insists he never flew to Louisville to look for a new coach.
"There's no question that I was motivated by the fact that we had 7-5 season and was that the best we could do. But, I did not set about doing this with the idea that we were going to replace the football coach," said Walker on Monday in an interview with WSFA.
Walker said the mistake on his part was the failure to communicate, not being up front with Coach Tommy Tuberville. "I think I made some serious mistakes in communication and this whole process has revealed that."
Athletic Director David Housel said it's time to move on. "The important thing you learn in a situation like this, when mistakes are made, obviously you think about what passed, should've been done, could've been done differently. But, the most important thing, since we all make mistakes, is what we learn going forward. I think we're all yet to learn the most important things."