Rumors swirl like a late spring cyclone in College Station, Texas about the future of Dennis Franchione. The Aggie Nation, 6-4 on the season, are pretty fed up with the nasal voice and less than reputable character of their head football coach.
Franchione was hired-on to put A&M back to the national spotlight, and has been unable to do so since leaving Bama with a candy-gram in 2002. But who will succeed Coach Fran when the inevitable buy out does come? Enter Auburn's Tommy "Ears" Tuberville.
The "Auburn Riverboat Gambler" struck out from the defensive coordinator spot at A&M in 1994 for his first head coaching job, and has posted a 103-52 record as the top man in the 14 seasons that followed; 78 of those wins coming in his 9 years on The Plains. His most impressive accomplishment may be his SEC-best overall record the past five seasons, including 5 SEC West Titles or shares, 1 SEC Championship, and now 8 straight bowl appearances with the Tigers.
Currently, "Tubbs" has The Plainsmen recovered from an early season tailspin and ranked 18th in the nation coming into the "Deep South's Oldest Rivalry" against 10th ranked Georgia this weekend. The undeniable success Coach Tuberville has had at Auburn begs the question as to why he would potentially leave the SEC for what must be pitched as "greener pastures" on the dry and cracked earth of East Texas?
Other than the old ties to College Station and the certain offer of more money, Tuberville might have some animus against the Loveliest Village on The Plains after the administration tried to run him out of town on a rail in favor of then Louisville coach, Bobby Patrino back in 2003. But the events that followed make this Auburn Tiger believe he'll simply use the coming offer as leverage to get "Saban money" from the former East Alabama Male College.
Coach Tuberville survived the "Jet-Gate scandal" and emerged in 2004 with an SEC Championship and huge contract extension which pays $2.6 million per annum, not including bonuses and incentives. If that weren't enough compensation, Auburn's President and A.D., who were responsible for the Petrino debacle, were fired. Rumor has it that Tubbs had a say in the hirings of their replacements and has taken over scheduling duties for the football program. This is what is called a "blank check" that Tuberville would be foolish to throw away in favor of A&M.
We likely won't have any definite resolution until after the regular season ends for both schools. My prediction: Fran will be looking in the Sun Belt or Conference USA for new work, while Tuberville gets his paycheck that will go head-to-head with that coach on the other side of the state as he stays on The Plains.