Dec. 4, 2008
Quotes from Auburn press conference on Thursday, Dec. 4.
Athletics Director Jay Jacobs
"Good morning. Thank all of you for being here. As you all know from the press release last night, Coach Tuberville has resigned as the head football coach here at Auburn. I want to thank Tommy for what he has done for Auburn Athletics the past ten years. He's built a solid foundation which we will continue to build upon. I wish nothing but the best for Tommy, his wife, Suzanne, his two sons, Tucker and Troy and certainly his sweet mom, Mrs. Olive.
"Before I answer your questions, I would like to go over a brief timeline of what has gone on the last couple of days. As many of you know, Dr. Gouge, Tommy and myself met on Monday morning. Prior to that meeting Tommy and I had several discussions and in those discussions I asked Tommy to lay out a comprehensive plan for the direction of this football team. Three particular areas that he and I were interested in were, one how to elevate this football team to not only compete for SEC championships but also to compete for national championships. Another area that we wanted to talk about was to make sure that we could continue to recruit nationally at the highest level to bring quality students and student-athletes to this football team. Then thirdly, the comprehensive area that I asked him to address was the stability of our coaching staff. Again as you all know Dr. Gouge, Tommy and myself met on Monday. Tommy and I had several meetings after that and yesterday in our meeting Tommy told me that he wanted to resign.
"The other point that I would like to make before taking your questions is that we will honor Tommy's contract. (Because of) Tommy's willingness and assurances that he wants to continue to be a member of the Auburn family, and also for what he has done the last ten years, Dr. Gouge and I thought that was the right thing to do."
Can you talk about the search and how that will be set up?
"Sure. Briefly last night I had a two- or five-minute conversation with Bill Carr from Carr Sports and Associates, and as I talk of a couple of priorities today, one meeting with the team, we will begin to visit with Bill and move through that process. I will tell you this also, that we are looking for the person that is the right fit for Auburn, for this team, this university and the right fit for the Auburn family."
Will you go after anyone who has a buyout clause?
"We will not limit ourselves to anyone."
Is it accurate that Bill Carr contacted Mike Leach?
"Not to my knowledge."
How did Tommy go from Saturday and Sunday being fully prepared to turning the program around and then to the point of resigning?
"You would have to talk to Tommy about that."
If Tommy had not resigned yesterday, would he have been the football coach next year?
Is there a sense of urgency to hire someone who is committed to the spread offense since losing several commits in the last 24 hours?
"Let me answer that a couple different ways. One is that we will hire the type of coach I just mentioned. One, that is best for this team, best for the university and best for the Auburn family. Unlike any other time you go through a coaching change, there is a wavering and what not with perspective student-athletes. Fortunately for us here at Auburn, the way that Tommy and his staff have always recruited, they have recruited to Auburn. We are going to hire the best fit regardless."
Do you have any specific criteria for a coach and what about a timeline?
"The specific criteria are that which I just mentioned. We are going to be as efficient as we possibly can. We are going to be thorough. We are going to be strategic and we are going to have the best person at Auburn regardless of a timeline."
Have there been any contact with an Auburn representative and any coach?
"To my knowledge there has not been."
Will you solely be handling the search?
"There will be a couple people involved. Quite frankly, we are going to get on that starting last night. I will tell you this, as we go through the search, we are going to keep this as confidential as we can and we'll update you as we see fit."
Who are the other people?
"I am not going to name those right now. Thank you though."
What the assistant coach's responsibilities right now?
"We are going to honor their contracts. As Tommy has mentioned, he would stay and continue to help call these commitments that we have. We will ask these coaches that would like to to stay and continue recruiting for Auburn. We would love for them to do that."
Do you have any idea how many might do that?
"I have not. There was a meeting earlier this morning. Tommy met with them and then one of my associates met with them. This has obviously all happened very quick from the perspective as of yesterday when all this went on."
Where were you getting the money to buy him out?
"Fortunately the last few years, because number one, the success of our football program and the other is because of our stewardship in the Athletics Department managing our physical affairs, we have been able to put some money aside so we actually have this money. It's not going to be any university money. It will be Athletics Department money. Another thing, too, is it's the right thing to do."
Can you go over the final moment before Tommy`s departure as he resigned and what was the atmosphere like?
"To say the least, I was a little shocked. After three times of asking him would he change his mind, he convinced me that the best thing for him and his family and for this football program was for him to possibly take a year off and take a step back."
Just to clarify, he was not forced to resign and this was his decision?
"Completely his decision. I asked him three times and so did the president. Now this happened yesterday afternoon. I asked Tommy to give me a few minutes so I could go talk to the president because the president nor I were expecting anything like this. I ran over to the president's office and the president said to tell him that he wants him to stay. I said that I had already done that three times. I came back over here. The president also said that he wanted him to be part of the Auburn family. If he would like to stay and that is what it is, and he's just tired and needs to take a break, I would love for him to stay as part of the Auburn family because he is such a great ambassador. I told him that I would be sure to do that. I came back over here and got the president on speaker phone and Tommy said that he would really like to sit down and talk with him. We went back over and the president reiterated those things, `you know Tommy if you really don't want to coach anymore, I would love for you to be a part of what I'm doing here.' Tommy said that he would think about that. I think that even as of this morning Tommy said that is something he wants to do. He's a great ambassador for Auburn so it will be a good thing."
Was he given a mandate to fire the staff?
"No not at all. He wasn't given any mandates at all."
With the gravity of the situation as he resigned, was it emotional for you?
"You know, it was. We prayed and it's just a tough business. Tommy and I have a great relationship. When I was at Tigers Unlimited, he would come down and drink coffee and sit in my office. Because I was a former player and coach and what not, we would sit and visit and talk about things. He was even involved in the interview process when Dr. Richardson hired me as the AD. Without me asking him to, I understand he supported me for the Athletics Director. It surprised me when he said that we needed to do something different here."
When you asked Coach Tuberville his plan and the questions you had asked him why not come out and say, "He is our coach?"
"He never got to it. When I talked to Tommy and he told me this yesterday, I said, `Tommy, we've been visiting for two weeks and you haven't said anything about this.' He said, `I have been thinking about it a long time.' He never moved forward with that plan with me."
On Tuberville being worn out...
"This is a tough business. I respect his decision and we are just going to move forward."
On events happening after the 36-point loss to Alabama in the Iron Bowl...
"That is the first time that I have thought about that score since Saturday night. It's the first time I've heard it actually because I have been tied up in this. The Iron Bowl had nothing to do with decision Tommy Tuberville made."
On the players hearing the news...
"I was not at the meeting last night. I am going to meet with them as soon as possible today. I wanted Tommy Tuberville to have his time and talk to those guys and give him that opportunity."
On talking to the players today...
"I'm going to tell them basically the same thing I have said in this press conference. Tommy Tuberville develops student-athletes mentally, physically, and spiritually. As the president told Tommy Tuberville on Tuesday morning he said, `The things you do, Tommy, are that you graduate your student-athletes and you put great people in the community. Those things are the most important ones to me versus winning and losing and the Auburn University President.' We will find a replacement like that and we will continue to build on what he has established."
On coaching candidates...
"We have a list of coaches. We are going to hire the best person for Auburn regardless of what their current title may be."
On the importance of finding a head coach quickly...
"We want to be as efficient and as quick as we possibly can, but we are not going to rush to judgment."
On stability of the coaching staff...
"Because of what has gone on this season of having to hire a new offensive coordinator, I just wanted to make sure that as we move forward that we know what everybody is doing and where everybody is going."
On the Board of Trustees having a say in this...
"The Board of Trustees had no word whatsoever."
On honoring Tommy Tuberville's contract...
"There are a lot of technical things, but the president and I decided that was the best thing. What Tommy Tuberville has done here the past ten years and him wanting to stay here in Auburn and help the president, we decided to honor his contract. We have two absolute values - one is to tell the truth and the second is to treat everyone the way you would like to be treated, and we thought that was the best way to treat him."
On what makes the head coach job a desirable one...
"Because of the success Tommy Tuberville has built - competing in the SEC, competing for SEC and National Championships, and being able to mold young men."
On the elevated status of SEC coaches and their salaries...
"Financially, we will not have any constraints. This league has stepped it up. The tree has gotten a lot taller and has gotten a lot more competitive. We are going to hire someone that is equally competitive."
On the potential of Tommy Tuberville falling short to the high standards of the SEC and BCS...
"There has only been, I believe, six teams in the SEC to win a Southeastern Conference Championship in the past thirty years and we are one of those teams. Certainly, we would have liked to have gone to the SEC Championship game more, but Tommy Tuberville's winning percentage is like 68 percent in the last ten years. We were very pleased of where we were competitively."
On finding a good recruiting coach...
"That would be one of the tangible things we would talk to the coaches about, but we wouldn't let our balance get skewed because one was strong in an area and weak in another. We are looking for a perfect fit."
On paying the full buyout...
"We will pay the full buy out of 6 million."
On the assistants' jobs...
"It is all contractual. Some of the assistants have a six-month contract and the coordinator has a 12-month contract."
On paying the full buyout...
"It is the right thing to do. Tommy Tuberville's willingness to stay here and move forward in transition."
On the question about Tommy Tuberville considering another job...
"During this yesterday when he decided to resign, at one point I was asking him to carefully reconsider. I told Tommy Tuberville yesterday that if he has another job that he would want to go to, the buyout on your end is zero. If you don't want to be here, you have another opportunity and you wouldn't have to pay Auburn. That probably would not have made a whole lot of people happy, but that's what we did. He did say that there was not another job available to him and he wants to be in Auburn for another year."
On Tommy Tuberville's and Jay Jacobs' conversation after the Iron Bowl...
"Up until Tuesday nothing was different. Tommy Tuberville was still wanting to be the head football coach at Auburn and nothing was mentioned."
On the state of Auburn athletics...
"When you look at the matrix of SEC championships, we are fourth in the SEC over the last five years. The schools that are ahead of us are all state institutions. So for a school like Auburn that doesn't have a state recognition name like some others do, it's quite amazing how successful we've been. It all goes back to the people and to our student-athletes who are the best in the world, and to the leadership of our coaches and support staff."
On the first time mentioning the buyout...
"Yesterday was the first time that had been mentioned because up until then it had never been a topic of discussion about him not wanting to be here."
On staying in Auburn...
"During our course of conversation, I needed to step out for me to go talk to the president and gather my thoughts. When the president and I visited, Dr. Gogue said `Ask Tommy Tuberville if he would like to stay here and work for me, and if he will we will honor the terms of his contract and go from there.'"
On ever thinking that Tommy Tuberville wasn't the right coach for Auburn...
"There was never a time that I thought that. In our prior conversations I asked Tommy `How much longer do you want to do this' And, he said `Five year. I want to get one of my sons through high school.' So, Monday morning with our conversation with the president, I told Dr. Gouge that Tommy Tuberville wants to be here five years and my goal is to get him through five years."
What was your reaction when you found out?
"I was pretty upset about it. I love Coach Tuberville. He gave me the chance to come play here at Auburn and start here for two and a half years, and really just accomplish my dream as a football player. Obviously, I was upset when I found out."
Were you at the meeting yesterday with him? What was that like?
"It was very emotional. Coach Tuberville loves his players and he made sure we knew that. He told us how he was always going to be pulling for us. He wanted everyone to make sure they got their degree and were successful. He said he wasn't going to disappear and that we'd still see him and he told us he loved us. It was tough, though."
Did he tell you that it was his decision to step down?
"No, he didn't talk about that."
What type of coach was Tuberville like to play for?
"I loved playing for him. He stood up for his players when times got tough and he had our backs. He was a great leader and really did a good job of keeping the program going in the right direction and making sure people did it the right way, and did things the way they were supposed to be doing them."
Did he tell you guys that he was tired or needed a break and needed to step away from coaching?
"No, that never came up."
After the Iron Bowl, Saturday, you said you'd run through a wall for him. What did he mean to you in your life?
"He gave me a chance when no one else would. I wasn't a big-time recruit when I was in high school, and he took a chance on me so I feel like I owe it to him. I respect him and I love him. Right now, I'd run through a wall for him still. You have to have that kind of respect for somebody who gives you a chance to come and get your school paid for and to play in this conference when not a lot of other schools did. So I just had a lot of respect for him from the very beginning."
Coming off the game Saturday, were you guys prepared at all for anything like this?
"I don't know. You hear all kinds of rumors and things like that, but I just think that's the way college football is today. One day they love you and the next day it's cut throat. It happens all over the country and I think that's just the harsh reality that hit everybody when we found out the news. It's just tough."
Did it make it easier when he said that he was still going to be around for a little while?
"Yes because he's your coach, and you're going to listen to what he says. He's not going to lie to his players."
What's the mood with the guys who are coming back and with those that are leaving and their feelings about the situation?
"I think everybody right now is kind of just realizing what happened. I haven't really talked to a lot of the guys at once, but from the few guys I have talked to, everybody was just kind of mad. That was a tough meeting last night though, and it was emotional for everybody. I think everybody's just trying to figure out what's going on."
Can it be interpreted that he's giving up on the team after being told that he resigned?
"No. I don't think that's a fair interpretation. I think he loves his players and being here and coaching. I don't think that was his mindset whatsoever."
Why do you think he resigned?
"I don't know. I don't know all those details. I haven't talked to him about it. I just know what I'm told and what he says and what he hears. I don't know why."
Was it tough to see him emotional like he was last night?
"It was probably one of the toughest things I've had to do in a long time, to see a man who's been your leader like that for five years struggle. It just shows how much he really cared about us and this program and just the kind of man he is. He's a great man."
What kind of coach should Auburn be looking for to step in after him?
"I think somebody that can uphold the values that Coach Tuberville set here and the foundation that he set here. He set a foundation of doing it the right way, of family, of taking care of your players and believing in each other, and doing the things the way they're supposed to be done and playing this game the way it's supposed to be played. So I think you have to find somebody who can build on that foundation that he set here the last ten years."
What were the emotions yesterday and what did Coach Tuberville tell you guys?
"It was a sad day, and we obviously didn't expect this to happen. We weren't looking forward to this, but Coach Tuberville came in and he thanked us for everything and thanked us for giving it our best shot. He got emotional and some players got emotional, and it was just a sad day."
What reason did he give for his decision?
"He didn't really go into any specifics with us. He just came in and thanked us for everything we'd done for him. He got emotional and the emotional part of him took over. It was just sad. We weren't expecting this day to happen, and no one was looking forward to this day. When he came in, he tried to talk, but his emotions took over. We all got together and prayed one last time and that was it."
What kind of coach was he to you, personally?
"He was a great coach. He was a guy that had contact with everybody. He goes around and he jokes and keeps the emotion high. He was never a guy to walk around downgrading players. He was a fun guy to be around."
What's the mood of the team? Have you talked to any of the players?
"I talked to my roommates, Aairon Savage and Walter McFadden. The mood was sad because we don't know who our next coach will be. If this had happened with any other program, I'm pretty sure they would feel the same, too. The mood is down right now, but we've just got to go on from here."
What does this program and team have to offer a new coach? What are its selling points?
"We have a lot of players coming back, and we're fairly young as a team. Auburn is a great program and we have a great fan base. We have good tradition, and the history speaks for itself."
What would you like to see in your next head coach? What kind of offense or defensive philosophy?
"I really haven't thought about it. I'm sure that whoever the coach is that comes in next is going to be a great guy with a high profile. If he's an offensive guy or a defensive guy, I don't really think that matters. I think Coach Tuberville was more of a defensive guy than an offensive guy, but I'm sure that whoever comes in is just going to be a great coach."
As a senior next year, what kind of leadership role will you take on to make sure this program gets back going in the right direction?
"I think just keeping everybody together and making sure everybody's on the same page to win ballgames, and to keep everybody together during off-season workouts. This season was tough and going into next year, it's going to be in everybody's mind, and everybody knows how it feels to have a losing season. So going to workouts, we're just going to keep everybody together and remind them of how this year felt to make sure that we don't feel this way again. That is going to be key."
Did you have any sense that this was coming?
"No, not really. We heard a lot of rumors from the fans, but we don't go to the coaches just asking because that's not our job and it's something we can't control. As the players, we can only do so much, and that's just to go to school and play football. We heard a lot of rumors, but we weren't expecting a big boom like this to happen. When it comes to the coaching profession, it's a business and it happens."
Was it a surprise that he resigned as opposed to getting fired?
"I guess you can say that. They say he resigned, so Coach Tuberville did what's in his best interest, just like anybody else would do when it comes to making tough decisions. You're going to do what's best for you and your family, so if he thought that was what was best for him and his family then that's what he had to do."
Did he give any indication of what his situation or status was to the team, either on Saturday or Tuesday?
"No, there was no sense that he was going to resign or anything like that. We just came in like we do after each year and had our regular team meeting about how we're going to change a few things and strive to get better in different situations, but there was no sense that he was going to resign."
What's the hardest thing about going through a coaching change?
"I think the hardest thing is figuring out who the next coach is going to be, and it's sort of like a guessing game now. But again, that's just something we can't control. Right now, we're starting off-season workouts and all we can do is come to workouts and try to get better, and whoever we decide to hire is going to come in and do their job. "
As the season went on, did it appear to you that Coach Tuberville was getting burned out?
"Not at all. Coach Tuberville took a lot of blame for the losses, as any coach would do, but the only thing he could do was coach. We are the players out there playing and Coach Tuberville didn't run one ball, catch one pass, or score one touchdown; the only thing he could do was call plays and coach. So as players, we took the blame for that. We thank Coach Tuberville a lot for taking up for us, and him taking the blame as the coach. But as players, we took a lot of blame for it and felt that it was unfair that the heat was coming on him and not on us."
Do you think that the situation now will affect your's or Sen'Derrick Marks's decision to go to the NFL?
"No, I don't think so at all. Just like Coach Tuberville did what's best for him and his family in his situation, we have to do the same for ourselves. We're not going to let what goes on with something we can't control affect our decision. The only thing we can do is to do what's best for us and our family."