Rumors about Tuberville future swirling

Collin Mickle / Staff Writer

Opelika-Auburn News

Thursday, November 29, 2007


ooAs rumors swirled Thursday about the future of Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, AU athletic director Jay Jacobs stayed calm, at least in his comments to the media.

Several Arkansas media sources, including news station KNWA-TV, reported Thursday evening that Tuberville was close to a deal to become the next head coach at Arkansas.

But Jacobs told the Opelika-Auburn News he believes Tuberville will remain at Auburn.

Jacobs also Arkansas officials hadn’t contacted him for permission to speak with Tuberville. Tuberville’s contract requires any school interested in Tuberville to receive permission from Jacobs before negotiating with the coach.

“I don’t see anything changing,” Jacobs told the Opelika-Auburn News Thursday night. “I’m looking forward to Tommy being the coach at Auburn for a long, long time.”

Another source close to the negotiations said the reports are “just rumors” and that Tuberville has not accepted an offer from Arkansas. Tuberville’s Auburn contract currently runs through 2011. He is slated to make an average of $3.1 million over the next four years.

The deal also includes a $6 million buyout; Arkansas would have to pay the total to Auburn or negotiate a reduction. Jacobs has previously indicated such negotiations were unlikely to occur.

Tuberville and Jacobs met for several hours Tuesday to negotiate an extension to the coach’s contact. They also discussed several other issues, including raises for Tuberville’s assistant coaches and improvements to the football team’s facilities.

“The meetings went great,” Jacobs said Thursday night.

But the two men were unable to reach an agreement on the issues at hand. Jacobs and Tuberville didn’t meet Wednesday or Thursday. Tuberville left Thursday for a brief duck-hunting trip to Arkansas. He is scheduled to return to Auburn this afternoon.

Jacobs said he expected conversations to continue into next week. In an unexpectedly dramatic twist, the Arkansas-based reports of Tuberville’s supposedly imminent departure came as a taped interview with the coach was being broadcast on Auburn’s radio network. In the segment, taped Thursday morning as part of his weekly radio show, Tuberville addressed the negotiations and rumors of his departure. “I am not looking to go anywhere,” he said.

“I am looking to make sure people understand what we need to do to get better. This program needs to take some steps in some areas to improve.” Tuberville also cautioned fans to be patient with the negotiations. “Contracts take forever,” he said.

In the radio interview, Tuberville indicated he would continue negotiating with AU officials into next week “What we’ve done – and what we’ll probably do for another week – is sit down and look at the best circumstances for this team and program,” he said. “There are a lot of variables you need to look at.”

cmickle@oanow.com | 737-2561

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