On Friday the university announced that Whitt is taking a position as a fundraiser with Tigers Unlimited, the part of the athletic department that raises funds for all of the university’s intercollegiate sports programs.
The last seven seasons Whitt coached linebackers for Tommy Tuberville and has also coached defensive ends at AU.
“Yesterday, Joe Whitt came and we visited as we did last year,” Tuberville says. “He has decided to take an opportunity in Tigers Unlimited after 25 years of on the field coaching.
“I don’t say he has been looking for, but feeling for maybe an opportunity to go in a direction where he can be still connected with the football program, the athletic program here at Auburn and the Auburn family, but have maybe a little bit more freedom doing some things he hasn’t done in the last 30 years. Joe is going to step down as linebackers coach.
“This was his decision,” the head coach adds. “We wish Joe the best, but again he is going to be around. We are going to get his input on maybe somebody who is going to fill his position.”
Whitt released a statement on Friday saying, “I have enjoyed coaching at Auburn during the last 25 years, but I saw an opportunity to step away from coaching and take on a new challenge in Tigers Unlimited. I love people, especially Auburn people. I have established numerous relationships while at Auburn and I look forward to spending more time with the Auburn people.”
As Whitt was leaving the coaching staff on Friday, former Auburn graduate assistant coach Will Muschamp was joining in the role of defensive coordinator, making a move from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins where he coached one season.
Muschamp coached linebackers for the Dolphins and was assistant head coach in charge of defense for Nick Saban. Muschamp coached the secondary for Saban at LSU.
Coach Joe Whitt worked for Pat Dye, Terry Bowden as well as Tommy Tuberville.
Tuberville says Muschamp will have input on what position he coaches for the Tigers. With David Gibbs accepting a job as defensive coordinator and secondary coach on Thursday with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, the Tigers still have one vacancy on the staff after hiring Muschamp.
“You want to use the best of everybody’s experiences.,” Tuberville says. “I am going to sit down with Will, Don Dunn (defensive line coach) and Terry Price (defensive ends coach) and we are going to figure out what the best scenario is for that three and whatever area we need to plug in we will go in that direction.”
“I am looking right now at linebacker coaches for the next few days--I would say until Sunday. Will will be here on Sunday and he and I will sit down Terry Price and Don Dunn. If Will feels like he would like to be at linebacker, we will go the secondary route (for a new assistant). If he feels like his best use would in the secondary, we will just go the other way.”
Tuberville notes that Whitt did a good job as a recruiter for Auburn and says he wants an assistant coach who is strong in that area to replace him. “He has to be as good a recruiter as a position coach,” Tuberville says. “I am looking for somebody who has got some energy who might bring some new ideas to us who is familiar, maybe, with Auburn, the SEC and familiar with recruiting in the South.”
Tuberville says he expects to have the vacancy filled in about a week. Spring training starts on Feb. 18th.
Whitt, who has been a fixture in recruiting prospects in south and central Alabama for the Tigers, is being asked to bring whoever takes over his recruiting territory up to speed. “We are going to call on his help training somebody who is going into that area to get them familiar with coaches, high school principals and counselors,” Tuberville says. I think that is a great scenario where he can be very valuable.”
Tuberville adds, “The big thing is that he has been a part of the family. He has been here through three head coaches, a lot of football players. He has graduated a lot of players. He has coached a lot of excellent players, guys who have gone to do great things in the NFL. He is an excellent recruiter.”
Whitt joined Pat Dye’s original staff in 1981, moving to AU from Lee High in Montgomery. He has a bachelor’s and a masters degree from Alabama State, where he was a defensive end from 1970-73.
“Joe has been extremely valuable to Auburn, both as a coach and an individual,” Athletic Director Jay Jacobs says. “He has been successful in each of his endeavors and this will be no different. Joe will be a tremendous asset and resource to the athletic department in his new role.”
Jacobs moved into his role as athletic director in December 2004 after being director of Tigers Unlimited.
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