Tuberville proves critics wrong

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 7, 2004

What a difference a year makes.

This time last year, most people in the media were either criticizing then-Auburn University president William Walker and athletic director David Housel for the &uot;jetgate&uot; scandal or Tuberville for underachieving with a preseason top 10 team.

I was one of those people.

I heavily criticized Tuberville and his staff for failing to meet expectations and I felt the criticism was just.

My expectations then were not for the Tigers to win a national championship but for Auburn to win at least 10 games for the first time in Tuberville’s career as a head coach and to make a SEC championship game appearance.

Had the Tigers finished No. 6 in 2003, where they started the season ranked, that would have put them with around a 10-3 record. Not too shabby.

The Tigers, however, were outscored 97-17 in four of their five losses and the future looked bleak.

Tuberville once again received a plethora of criticism from the media when he demoted offensive coordinator Hugh Nall back to offensive line coach, moved quarterbacks coach Steve Ensminger to tight ends coach and hired the director of the 114th offense in the nation in Indiana’s offensive coordinator, Al Borges.

Once again, I was one of those people. How proud I am to be wrong.

Borges not only did the most impressive job as offensive coordinator I have ever seen, he also had defensive coordinators shaking at the explosiveness of the Auburn offense. Borges got the most out of his assistants while turning diamond-in-the-rough quarterback Jason Campbell into a legitimate Heisman trophy contender.

Borges should receive most of the praise, as he has, but so should his assistants.

Wide receiver coach Greg Knox showed he is not just a great recruiter but also a great coach. Courtney Taylor, Devin Aromashadu and Ben Obomanu have turned into big-time players and third down conquerors.

Running backs coach Eddie Gran did a phenomenal job substituting Carnell &uot;Cadillac&uot; Williams and Ronnie Brown, while also turning an inept Auburn special teams into an immediate threat with Williams returning punts and kickoffs.

Nall, now with his full attention on the offensive line, has transformed Jeremy Ingle and crew from a sporadic line into the &uot;Great Wall of Campbell.&uot; The holes paved for Williams and Brown were sometimes almost too big that it was uncanny.

While all these offensive coaches deserve every bit of praise they will receive, it all goes back to Tuberville.

When a bad call is made or a team falters, it is the head coach who takes the fall. The same precedent should follow when good things happen.

As Gran pointed out in a recent interview, &uot;It all starts with Tommy Tuberville.&uot; Gran also pointed out how Tuberville handled the whole &uot;jetgate&uot; situation with such class.

It’s funny how Tuberville added a &uot;cl&uot; to what Walker and Housel tried to make him look like and now he’ll be the National Coach of the Year.

Yes, Tuberville is truly the epitome of class.

Austin Phillips is a sports writer for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at