News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Tommy Tuberville has won 77 games in nine seasons at Auburn.
Daily file photo by GaryCosby Jr.
Tommy Tuberville has won 77 games in nine seasons at Auburn.

A&M nears coaching change
More reports say Aggies negotiating to dump Dennis Franchione, targeting AU's Tuberville

By Ross Dellenger · 340-2460

AUBURN — More reports surfaced Monday linking Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville to the probable head coaching vacancy at Texas A&M.

The Daily reported in Monday's editions that Tuberville was A&M's No. 1 choice should the Aggies fire embattled coach Dennis Franchione.

Monday afternoon, ESPN and media outlets in Texas reported Texas A&M is in negotiations with Franchione to buy out the remaining five years of the coach's contract.

The Houston Chronicle, citing a person familiar with the situation, reported on its Web site these discussions have been ongoing for "several days," and Franchione is expected to announce he is stepping down during the Aggies' open week following Saturday's game with Missouri.

ESPN and The Houston Chronicle also claim Tuberville is on the top of Texas A&M's list of coaching candidates. ESPN's Andre Ware reported the school "wants to talk" to Tuberville and said on the network that Texas A&M "will pursue (Tuberville) awfully hard."

Tuberville, in his ninth year at Auburn, served as Texas A&M's defensive coordinator in 1994 before leaving to become head coach of Ole Miss. He has refused to discuss the situation.

When asked Sunday by The Daily if he would at least listen to an offer from Texas A&M, Tuberville interrupted and said, "We're not going to get into that the next two weeks. That'll be a headache if we start doing all those ifs and ands."

During the last two weeks, Tuberville has not denied interest in the job.

An Auburn spokesman told The Daily on Monday that despite the reports, "nothing has changed" concerning Tuberville's comments about the situation.

Tuberville's current contract, which runs through 2011, will pay him $2.6 million this year with incentives.

The contract has a buyout clause of $6 million should Auburn fire Tuberville. If he leaves Auburn, Tuberville or the school that hires him would have to pay the $6 million.

It is not clear if Auburn would increase the length of Tuberville's contract or give him a boost in salary if Texas A&M should make an offer.

Attempts to contact Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs were unsuccessful Monday.

ESPN and The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that Texas A&M has hired a consulting firm, Neinas Sports Services, to assist in the coaching search.

A woman fielding calls at Neinas Sports Services in Boulder, Colo., said the reports are “speculation.” The agency’s owner, Chuck Neinas, “does not reveal any of his clients,” the woman said.

Neinas Sports Services works for institutions to find athletics directors and coaches. The woman said Neinas normally is given a list of candidates by an institution. Neinas, through various connections with agents, then narrows the list down, she said.

A statement from Texas A&M on Monday called the reports “false rumors” and said A&M athletics director Bill Byrne “has repeatedly said he evaluates his programs at the end of the season.”

“Dennis Franchione is the head football coach at Texas A&M and is currently working on a game plan to face a Top 10 football team in the Missouri Tigers,” the statement said.

Franchione’s contract pays him $2 million a year and runs through 2012. He has a buyout of about $8 million or $141,667 for each month remaining on the contract.

The Houston Chronicle reported Franchione would receive a $1.9 million buyout under this new agreement because the coach violated his contract by accepting income from a secret newsletter he sent to boosters. In September, the coach was caught selling a secret newsletter to boosters who paid him $1,200 for team information that Franchione refused to release to the public. School officials admonished Franchione on Oct. 11.

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