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Auburn tight end Cole Bennett (87) tries to break free from Georgia defender Thomas Flowers (29) after making a catch in the third quarter.
AP photo by John Bazemore
Auburn tight end Cole Bennett (87) tries to break free from Georgia defender Thomas Flowers (29) after making a catch in the third quarter.

No distractions

AU coach says talk of Texas A&M didn’t cause team to lose focus

By Ross Dellenger · 340-2460

AUBURN — Coach Tommy Tuberville said widespread reports linking him to the probable coaching vacancy at Texas A&M had no affect on Auburn’s poor performance in a 45-20 loss at Georgia on Saturday.

“It wasn’t a distraction last week,” Tuberville said Sunday on his weekly teleconference, “and it won’t be this week.”

In nine years at Auburn, a Tuberville team has never allowed more points. But a day after the embarrassing loss, the coach insisted last week’s reports were just “media talk.”

“Our players don’t talk about it; our coaches haven’t talked about it,” he said. “Our players and coaches could care less about what the media thinks about. It’s their own agenda. It’s not ours.”

Tuberville has been linked Texas A&M, a place where he served as defensive coordinator for one season in 1994. Early last week, The Daily reported that Tuberville is Texas A&M’s No. 1 choice should the university fire embattled coach Dennis Franchione.

According to ESPN and Texas media outlets, the Aggies already are negotiating a buyout with Franchione, who was admonished by school officials in October for publishing a secret news letter. Franchione has also failed to meet expectations on the field, compiling a 19-21 mark in the Big 12 in his five season in College Station, Texas.

But Tuberville has continued to ignore the issue during the last two weeks. He insists on waiting until the end of the season to meet with athletics director Jay Jacobs and president Jay Gouge to discuss his contract.

The Daily reported Wednesday that Tuberville has a contract “package” awaiting him after the season.

According to a source close to the Board of Trustees and Auburn athletic officials, Tuberville and his assistants will get a raise at the season’s end.

“That’s all media talk, something for people to talk about during the week,” Tuberville said.

Auburn’s loss to Georgia gives the Tigers (7-4, 4-3 SEC) four losses for the time since 2003, when Tuberville was nearly fired following an incident involving athletic department officials.

Auburn officials flew to Louisville just days before the 2003 Iron Bowl with hopes of persuading then-Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino to replace Tuberville.

Four years later, Auburn may need to boost Tuberville’s contract to get him to remain in Auburn. The Tigers carried a 6-5 record into that 2003 Iron Bowl. They were fresh off an embarrassing loss at Georgia a week before.

Unranked Auburn enters this season’s Iron Bowl with just a slightly better record at 7-4 and the same 4-3 conference mark as it had in 2003. And they also are coming off a humiliating loss to the Bulldogs.

Auburn doesn’t play again until facing Alabama on Nov. 24. Tuberville gave the team off Sunday and will begin preparation for the Tide on Monday.

“We talk to them all year long about Alabama and the importance of it,” Tuberville said. “(Georgia) was just another ball game. The one coming up is not just another ball game. This is the one that counts for Auburn, and we know that.”

Auburn Monday playback

Three points Auburn should remember after a 45-20 loss to Georgia.

Bye week is finally here: After playing 11 straight weeks, Auburn has limped into the bye week. The Tigers have two weeks to prepare for the most important game of the year: the Nov. 24 matchup with Alabama.

Alabama lost, too: The Crimson Tide’s loss at Mississippi State makes the Iron Bowl even bigger. Both teams likely will enter the game with identical 7-4 records with bowl positioning on the line.

Don’t blame it on the blackout: The Tigers can’t say they lost to Georgia because of the Sandford Stadium blackout. Georgia fans wore all black to Saturday’s game, and the team even wore black tops for the first time in the “modern era.” But Auburn was beaten physically by talented Georgia receivers and Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford. The pitch-black atmosphere had nothing to do with this embarrassing loss.

Ross Dellenger

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