Coach Wants Extra Open Date For 2006 Season

<b>Tommy Tuberville</b>

Auburn, Ala.--For fans expecting a new big-name opponent for the 2006 Auburn football schedule because of the change from an 11-game regular season to a 12 games, it's not likely to happen.

That is the word from Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who is not happy with the way the NCAA is making the switch to the 12-game schedule. Because the organization is not going to allow teams to start the season a week earlier, with the Tigers leaving an off week on their schedule at the end of the regular season, the week before the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, that leaves just one open date.

In 2006, Auburn's open date falls on week 10, the Saturday before its annual showdown vs. the Georgia Bulldogs. Playing a strong non-conference team in that slot is not something that Tuberville is interested in doing. The coach says that would hinder his team's chances in its rivalry games vs. the Bulldogs and Alabama and make it more difficult to win the SEC title.

"It's a survival contest, especially when we get in the 12th game (schedule)," Tuberville says. "Everybody thinks it's going to create another big game, but it's not. We're not going to play USC because you can't do it. You can't put these kids in that scenario.

"You've got to find somebody that's obviously going to be a competitive game," he adds. "We're going to find a I-A team, but you can't play Michigan or someone like that. You just can't do it. Not for us in this conference. I was looking at that schedule yesterday. Good luck.

"Why in the world we're not starting earlier, that's what I asked them (the NCAA)," the coach adds. "That way you can keep your same open date. That gives you a date that everybody can fill that date. Right now everybody is trying to find a date to coincide with the open date you have. Talk about impossible. They should start a week earlier if they want to play 12 games and not jam them all together.

"We've got a lot of people we're talking to, but I'm not going to put our guys in the situation where they have to play a very tough conference game and then go out and play a tough road non-conference game," Tuberville says. "I'm not going to do it. It's not fair to them.

"Our conference is hard enough," Tuberville contends. "We might end up having to go play Michigan because it might be the only team we can get to play, but everybody's druthers isn't going to be that.

"Now if they gave us that extra week it would give you an opportunity to do that, which we were able to do when we played USC. I can remember when it was our ninth game two years ago and we went and played Georgia. We played like it was our ninth game--the same way with Georgia this year. You can tell when you're about to hit that wall."

Tuberville and his Tigers will begin making on-the-field preparations for their 11-game regular season schedule on Tuesday March 1st as they begin spring drills. The Tigers will open the season Sept. 3rd vs. Georgia Tech.

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