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Tommy Tuberville has won 76 games in nine seasons as Auburn’s coach.
AP photo by Dave Martin
Tommy Tuberville has won 76 games in nine seasons as Auburn’s coach.

rumors heat up

Auburn coach calls speculation of him heading to A&M ‘part of the business’

By Ross Dellenger · 340-2460

AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville on Sunday called rumors of him leaving for Texas A&M “just part of the business” and alluded to possible upcoming contract talks with Auburn.

“I’m sure there’ll be some discussion over the next few weeks,” said Tuberville, who received a seven-year contract extension in February 2005 following Auburn’s undefeated 2004 season.

The ninth-year Auburn coach has been rumored as the successor to Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione, who coached Alabama for two seasons before leaving for College Station, Texas. Franchione’s job with the Aggies is unstable following a scandal involving a secret newsletter he published and his team’s struggle to meet expectations on the field.

“This time of year, speculation starts, with people moving and getting fired and changing jobs,” Tuberville said, a day after his team won its sixth game of the season, beating Ole Miss 17-3.

“It’s part of the business. I’m used to dealing with it over the last 12 or 13 years, but I don’t get involved with it,” he added.

Although Franchione’s team is 6-3 this season, the Aggies are 18-19 in the Big 12 Conference since he took over in 2003.

In September, news broke that he was selling a secret newsletter to boosters, who paid him $1,200 for team information that Franchione didn’t release to the public. Embarrassed school officials admonished Franchione earlier this month.

Tom Dienhart, a columnist for The Sporting News, published a story Friday saying A&M wants Tuberville as its next coach.

Dienhart cited “someone very close to the Texas A&M situation.”

“The talk of Tubs to A&M has percolated for weeks. And, I’m telling you, people: It’s legit,” Dienhart wrote in his column, which is posted on the Web site

“Yeah, it’s time to panic, Auburn Nation,” he continued. “Yeah, if Tubs leaves the Plains, there will be a huge buyout ($6 million). But, a wad of cash never has stood between a major program and something it wanted.”

Tuberville said he does not know Dienhart.

When asked specifically about the column, Tuberville said, smiling, “It makes good talk, doesn’t it? I guess there’s not anything else to talk about. Of course, I don’t read too much this time of year.”

Tuberville’s current contract, which runs through 2011, pays him $2.6 million a year with incentives, including $50,000 for 10 victories or more, $100,000 for an undefeated regular season, $100,000 for playing in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game, $150,000 for winning the SEC championship and $300,000 for winning a national championship.

The contract has a buyout clause of $6 million, which Auburn would have to pay if it canceled the contract or Tuberville would have to pay if he left the school.

Franchione’s contract pays him $2 million a year and runs through 2012.

When asked if his agent, Jimmy Sexton, was talking with Auburn officials about his contract, he said, “Everything goes through me.”

Auburn Sunday Playback

Three points Auburn should remember after a 17-3 win over Ole Miss.

Your offensive woes won’t matter this Saturday: After scoring 17 points on the worst defense in the SEC, Auburn faces a Tennessee Tech team that has given up 59, 38, 45 and 30 points in its last four games.

You still dominant at the half: Although Auburn led Ole Miss just 7-3 at the half, it’s still a lead. The Tigers are the only team in Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) to lead at the half of every game it has played. That’s always a good thing, no matter how small the lead.

Smith soars: Receiver Rod Smith continues to be a threat to defenses. Smith had eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown against Ole Miss. He now has 41 catches, 564 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

Ross Dellenger

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