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Six games and 1,855 yards into the 2008 season (that's 309 ypg for you mathematically-challenged Alabama fans), Tony Franklin has been fired as offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, marking the end of an early season soap opera that saw Franklin's much-talked about system struggle early and never get on track. Tuberville has not stated publicly who will call plays this weekend vs. Arkansas, or what type of offense will be run.
Many fans will criticize Tommy Tuberville for insisting on running a hybrid version of Franklin's system. Others might criticize him for going through yet another coordinator. But, Franklin knew the situation coming in, so while some blame may be rightfully bestowed upon Tuberville, the majority of it is on Franklin. It's his responsibility to call the plays, and the play-calling has been atrocious this season, regardless of what system is being run. SEC offensive coordinators should be able to make the adjustment, whether it's adjusting to the opposing defense or his boss's wishes. Franklin could not.
Immediately following the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last weekend that saw the offense put up just 208 yards of total offense against a Commodore team that was last in the SEC in total defense at the time, Tuberville probably made the decision that Franklin was going to be fired. Whether that was immediately, after the season, or after the Arkansas game was up-in-the-air. After mulling it over for a few days, Tuberville probably decided that if he was going to do it, that there's no reason not to get it over with and do it now. Just like ripping off a band-aid.
It's highly unlikely that Auburn was going to make it to the SEC Championship Game with two conference losses, including one to SEC West front-runner LSU. And, even though LSU won the National Championship with two losses last season, Auburn wasn't going to follow suit with one of those losses being to Vandy, even if Vandy is having a dream season. With an extended break coming up to prepare for West Virginia, and Bobby Petrino – who tried to stab Tuberville in the back in 2003 – coming in to town on Saturday, the time was right to make the change.
Tuberville has said that the primary reason that he brought Franklin in to begin with was recruiting, which probably will be affected by this decision. However, going under the assumption that Tuberville had made the decision to cut bait with Franklin, recruiting won't take a significant hit. Some players may de-commit and others might transfer, and rightfully so. But, it's better for the future of the Auburn football program that those players de-commit or transfer now, which would give the coaching staff more time to recruit players that might not have been available on the recruiting trail in a few months.
It is uncommon to see a coordinator get fired mid-season. Tuberville took a chance hiring Franklin, and wound up rolling snake eyes. It was a progressive idea that he thought could keep Auburn ahead of the curve, and now he's back to square one. With a very personal game with Petrino this week – which both coaches downplayed to the media – Tuberville will most definitely be looking to fix it, and fix it quick. It's highly unlikely that Auburn could run the score up on Petrino's Arkansas Razorbacks even if they tried. But, if that were to happen, it just gives Tuberville another reason to do so.
Franklin's Firing Isn't All Bad – October 8, 2008
SEC West September Synopsis – September 28, 2008
Fixing Auburn's Offense – September 15, 2008
Wells or Not, USC's Defense Will Dominate – September 10, 2008
No Need To Panic, Auburn Fans – September 2, 2008
SEC and ESPN Reach Mega Deal – August 25, 2008
What Will Happen In The SEC – August 18, 2008
Bama Is Not Back – August 5, 2008
SEC Under-The-Radar Games – July 26, 2008
Enough With The Buckeyes – July 16, 2008
SEC Coaches: How Many Is Too Many? - July 8, 2008
New Coordinators No Problem For Auburn - July 1, 2008
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