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Party's over for Auburn, Tuberville
Saturday, February 09, 2008

Over the last few years, particularly when things have gone sour, Tommy Tuberville has reached deep into his bag of magic tricks and played the Jetgate card. In other words, the Auburn administration and trustees cost me a great recruiting class during the turmoil and we are paying for their sins now.

You heard this again in September when Auburn started the 2007 season like a drunken frat boy on the last night of Mardi Gras, stumbling to a disastrous 1-2 start.

Now the results from the 2008 recruiting class are in and Alabama's Nick Saban has soundly beaten Tuberville to a bloody pulp. What's interesting is even Tuberville could see this historic beatdown coming. It's been in the making since Saban arrived on the tarmac and was given the Elvis treatment.

What did Tubby do at the apex of recruiting? He went duck (or job) hunting in Arkansas.

Auburn fans can shrug this off. Tuberville can say it's no big deal -- repeating early and often as he did this week that it doesn't matter what the Internet recruiting rankings proclaim. Auburn evaluates players and bases its scholarship offers on what its coaches think, not some guy who sells recruiting subscriptions out of the trunk of his car. Try again, Tommy.

Alabama's second-year head coach didn't impress many folks this year on the field. However, Saban has given Tide fans fervent hope for the future with an out-of-this-world recruiting class.

Can Tuberville deal with that? Has Tuberville's act finally spun out of control? Can one hear the fat lady warming up in the not-too-distant future?

Sometimes, the thin line between perception and reality can easily get skewed. However, this week, there was no confusion on how well Alabama did and how bad Auburn looked.

Auburn was an afterthought for most of the top players. Julio Jones toiled between Alabama and Oklahoma. Jerrell Harris, the state's top linebacker, picked Alabama over Southern Cal. Harris said Wednesday that Auburn was tied for fourth with Tennessee -- behind Clemson. How embarrassing.

Simultaneously, Auburn was losing players to South Florida and Ole Miss. What does that say about the current state of the program?

It would appear that Tuberville can do little or nothing to stop the Saban Express, or even slow it down. Unless Saban burns out or self-destructs, what we saw Wednesday will probably be repeated again next year.

In spite of winning six in a row over Alabama, Auburn just doesn't seem to be the "it" school anymore. Tuberville's sales pitch has seemingly grown tired and stale.

However, before Tuberville is completely counted out -- a dangerous mistake many have often made -- remember that some of the cards still reside in his hands.

If Auburn can go to its favorite SEC stadium in November and beat Alabama again, the numbers for Tubs vs. Saban will move to 5-2; that is important and compelling. But the question remains: Will it really change the recruiting landscape next February?

Tuberville has made some moves that could help him down the road, namely going to Tony Franklin for a more recruit-friendly offense. However, it will take more than that to stop Saban.

What has propelled Auburn mostly over the past eight years has been confusion and turmoil on the Alabama side.

When you factor in the Shakespearean tragedy of Mike DuBose followed by stiff NCAA sanctions, the two years and done for Dennis Franchione, the five-month flameout of Mike Price and the four tumultuous years of Mike Shula, is there any wonder why Auburn has won seven of the past eight?

But that game is over now. Alabama has a new CEO, and while Saban has looked shaky at times, he proved this week he will be a titanic force in the state and around this part of the country.

So what's Tuberville to do? Or at $3 million a year (and a $6 million buyout), perhaps the better question is: Does he even care?

For Auburn fans, that might the biggest concern of all.

Contact Paul Finebaum at:


His column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in the

Thanks Argo

I guess we're the flavor of the week for Slimbomb.
There is some truth to that article though.
Tubs has set himself up nicely. When the time comes and Auburn wants him gone they will pay dearly.
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