Just hours after firing offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tony Franklin around midday on Wednesday, Tuberville and his staff were making plans late into the night preparing the Auburn Tigers for a home game vs. Arkansas this Saturday.
“We are not changing offenses,” said Tuberville, who hired Tony Franklin from Troy last December after making the decision to switch from the West Coast Offense to the spread. “This is a good offense,” Tuberville said. “We just need to try to get better at it.”
Auburn produced just 208 yards in a loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday using a combination of spread plays, “I” formation and double tight end sets.
“It is not going to change our philosophy,” Tuberville said of his commitment to the spread. “It is a good offense. Our guys like it and understand it and are getting better at it.
“When I went to this we were looking forward to going to it and have learned a lot about it, but again it is about getting the job done,” he said. “Again, I thought over the last few weeks we hadn’t improved like we should have--bottom line.”
Tuberville's Press Conference Video
Tuberville and his staff have recruited offensive prospects that fit a spread system. He said that he doesn’t anticipate having a problem holding onto Auburn’s 2009 commitments. The Tigers are currently rated fourth nationally by Scout.com with 25 early verbal commitments to sign in February.
“Of course, we will have to go out and talk with all of the players and visit with them,” Tuberville said. “I see no problem with it.”
Franklin was Tuberville’s fourth offensive coordinator in 10 seasons at Auburn following Noel Mazzone, Bobby Petrino and Al Borges, who was fired last December prior to Auburn’s bowl win over Clemson.
Petrino will be in Auburn as a head coach on Saturday as his Arkansas team looks to end a three-game losing streak as the SEC West teams meet at 4 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Petrino left Auburn to take the job as head coach of Louisville. He is currently in his first season with the Razorbacks after leaving the NFL's Atlanta Falcons last season.
Following Wednesday evening’s practice, Tuberville told an unusually large media gathering, “I decided to make a change with Tony Franklin. It hurts. It hurts bad. That is a difficult situation, a difficult thing to do in the middle of the season. My responsibility is this football team and it will always be.
“Tony is a good person, a good guy,” he said. “He has got a great family. He’s a good family man, but basically what it all comes down to is production and I didn’t think the last few weeks we were making any progress. I came to the decision this morning we would make that change. We are going to go forward, we are going to be positive about it and we will go from here.
“Practice was good today,” Tuberville added. “I thought the guys bounced around well. Obviously, it is a difficult situation. A lot of people ask, ‘why would you do it to the team in the middle of the season or even the middle of the week?’ There is never a good time. I thought that this was a time we needed to do it. You have got to make these decisions for the players.”
Many of the players didn’t know what happened when they arrived at the football complex for practice and meetings on Wednesday. “I had to explain it to them,” Tuberville said. “They understood, they went to work and we are getting ready for Arkansas.”
Commenting on why he made the change, Tuberville said, “You keeping looking at things. You look at production. There is no really unknown reason. You just have to go with your gut feeling.
“There were no personal conflicts,” he added. “Tony and I have always gotten along well together. Basically, it came down to production. We played four conference games and just hadn’t done that well. I had to look at it. It had nothing to do with X’s and O’s. He’s a heck of a football coach. It was about getting it done on the practice field into the game field. We are all responsible for that.”
Tuberville said the decision didn’t involve differences on who to play or what formations to run.
“It’s never been personnel, it’s never been formations, it’s never been plays, it’s never been play-calling,” he said. “The bottom line, when you go out there, you have got to be productive. That is my responsibility to make sure our offense works, our defense works and we give them the best opportunity. This first six games we were 4-2 and we lost two games by five or six points. We just hadn’t made any steps forward.”
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