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Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville is  seen as a possible replacement for Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M. Franchione, a former coach at Alabama, is reportedly on his way out.
AP photo by Dave Martin
Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville is seen as a possible replacement for Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M. Franchione, a former coach at Alabama, is reportedly on his way out.

AU 'package' awaits
Source says Tuberville pay hike on the horizon

By Ross Dellenger
sports@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville has a contract "package" waiting for him when the season ends, a source close to the Auburn Board of Trustees told The Daily on Tuesday.

The source said Tuberville, who has been linked to the probable coaching vacancy at Texas A&M, and his assistant coaches will get a boost in salary by January. The source said members of the Auburn Board of Trustees and others in the athletic department are shocked that talk of Tuberville leaving for Texas A&M have lasted this long.

"Tuberville is not going anywhere," said the source, who wishes to remain anonymous. "Not only will Tuberville get a raise, but he's more interested in getting a raise for his assistants."

Even if Auburn loses its remaining games, the source is confident the deal still will be in place. No. 18 Auburn (7-3, 4-2 SEC) travels to play No. 10 Georgia (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday. The Tigers then host Alabama on Nov. 24.

Earlier last week, Tuberville alluded to possible contract talks with Auburn following the season. He was asked Tuesday during his weekly news conference if he would consider beginning those discussions during Auburn's bye week following Saturday's game at Georgia.

"It's better to wait. We do it every year. That's how it is done," said Tuberville, who did note that he has already talked some to school officials. "There's no urgency about anything."

The ninth-year Auburn coach fielded several questions Tuesday concerning the recent reports by ESPN, The Houston Chronicle and The Daily that he is Texas A&M's No. 1 choice should the university fire embattled coach Dennis Franchione. The Aggies reportedly are negotiating a buyout with Franchione, who was admonished by school officials in October for publishing a secret newsletter. Franchione, in his fifth year with the Aggies, also has failed to meet expectations on the field, compiling a 19-20 mark in the Big 12.

When asked Sunday if he at least would 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."

On Tuesday, he was more open to discussion. Asked why he seems to be a common candidate for coaching jobs, Tuberville seemed baffled.

"Every year, for some reason, my name gets thrown in for a lot of them. That's just part of it," Tuberville said. "We'll sit down as I do with the president and (athletics director) Jay (Jacobs) at the end of the year, and we'll go from there."

Tuberville served as the Texas A&M defensive coordinator in 1994 before becoming head coach of Ole Miss. He said that tie likely has intensified the rumors.

"I've got friends out there, obviously, and coached there," he said.

Tuberville and Auburn agreed on a new contract following the 2004 season. The deal runs through 2011 and pays him $2.6 million a year, increasing $200,000 each year.

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.

During the last month, Jacobs has insisted Tuberville and Auburn's deal is a "lifetime commitment" on both sides.

ESPN's Andre Ware reported Monday that Texas A&M "wants to talk" to Tuberville and said on the network that the school "will pursue (Tuberville) awfully hard."

Meanwhile, Auburn players have ignored the reports.

"I don't think it's a big concern, not to us, not to the team," defensive tackle Josh Thompson said.

Thompson said Tuberville has not addressed the team about the reports. The senior doesn't think its necessary.

"Until he makes his decision, nobody will know it but him," he said. "I think that's how it should stay."

Players say little or nothing has been said in the Auburn locker room about the reports.

"Nobody's really talked about it. Nobody's discussed it," quarterback Brandon Cox said. "All the talk has been about Georgia."

Said linebacker Quentin Groves: "We can't focus on, 'Is he leaving? Is he going? Is he leaving? Is he going?' At the end of the day, if he leaves or if he goes, we're still going to play football here at Auburn."

Groves was asked if he thinks Tuberville may be leveraging Auburn in hopes of possibly getting a larger contract. The senior from Greenville, Miss., said, "He's that kind of guy, the leverage guy."

Thompson said, "Wherever you get the best offer these days is where you'll go."

"It's up to him," Thompson continued. "If he wants to stay, he can stay here. If not, that's his choice."

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