Auburn Extends Hand to Tuberville

From Wire Reports

Auburn officials were left in an embarrassing position Wednesday after the disclosure of a meeting involving the school president and Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino to discuss the possibility of succeeding Tommy Tuberville as Tiger coach.

The meeting involving President William Walker, Athletic Director David Housel and two trustees took place Thursday night outside Louisville, less than 48 hours before the Tigers played rival Alabama.

The Tigers (7-5) defeated the Crimson Tide, 28-23, but Tuberville's fate was undetermined until Wednesday, after Petrino said he was staying put and Walker issued an apology.

"If Coach Tuberville elects to do so, he will continue as Auburn's head football coach next year," Walker said in a statement. "I sincerely hope he chooses to remain at Auburn."

In a breach of protocol, Auburn officials never asked for permission from Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich to meet with Petrino. The move enraged Jurich, who lost coach John L. Smith to Michigan State in December under similar circumstances. Michigan State never asked for permission to talk with Smith and word of his hiring started to spread among the players during the first half of the Cardinals' 38-15 loss to Marshall in the GMAC Bowl.

Although Walker also apologized to Jurich, the athletic director let his anger be known to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"I can deal with Bobby Petrino on my own campus," Jurich said. "But the national perception of how a university leader would come into my own backyard, behind my back, is highly disturbing. Auburn University is lucky to have a coach like Tommy Tuberville, and they're lucky if he would even think about coaching that program again."

Petrino is in his first season at Louisville. He had been Auburn's offensive coordinator under Tuberville until taking over for Smith.


Wisconsin accepted an invitation to play in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 in Nashville, Tenn. The Badgers (7-5) will play a Southeastern Conference team.... Navy Coach Paul Johnson was given a contract extension through 2009.... Talks to extend the contract of Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden were put on hold because Bowden was leaving for a family gathering in Florida. Bowden, who has four years left on his current deal, was under fire until the Tigers (8-4) won their last three games.... Jackie Sherrill's 13-year run as coach of Mississippi State comes to an end today when the Bulldogs (2-9, 1-6 Southeastern) play host to Mississippi (8-3, 6-1).

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