A year makes huge difference
Saturday, December 4, 2004
ATLANTA -- Who could have imagined Tommy Tuberville in this position? Yet there he was Friday, standing alongside the Southeastern Conference championship trophy, posing for pictures and undoubtedly chuckling a bit on the inside.
"You could make a movie script out of this," Tuberville said, trying to suppress a grin, "and no one would believe it."
Indeed, it was a little more than a year ago that Auburn was preparing Tuberville's pink slip. Top school officials even conducted a clandestine interview with Louisville's Bobby Petrino, gauging his interest in becoming the Tigers' next coach.
But the way the whole situation was handled -- Petrino was interviewed just days before Auburn played its biggest rival, Alabama -- led to a backlash against the school's president (who quit) and athletic director (who announced his retirement).
Tuberville stayed. Now, just one year removed from that ugly ordeal, he's probably more secure than any employee on the Auburn campus.
The third-ranked Tigers (11-0) have put together one of the greatest years in school history, claiming a spot in today's SEC title game against No. 15 Tennessee (9-2).
"It's been an emotional year," Tuberville said. "But that week we spent in November 2003 -- where it was up or down whether I would be back, with all the trauma the players went through trying to get ready for the Iron Bowl -- I think that enhanced this group. They grew up. They learned to overcome adversity."