CFN Analysis - Tuberville
The Auburn man to take over Texas Tech
Tommy Tuberville to Texas Tech? Um, uh, alright.
He’s not completely the anti-Mike Leach, but he’s close. He’ll make the folks around Lubbock happy with his demeanor and his style, at least compared to the smarmy Leach, but this is a program known for high-octane, high-flying offenses and the notoriety that came with them. And if there’s one thing Tuberville struggled with, it was finding the right fit at offensive coordinator.
Troy certainly was entertaining this year and the offense put up huge numbers, but Tuberville’s fate will be tied into young Neal Brown, a 29-year-old wunderkind who either 1) won’t be at Texas Tech long and will become THE hot name for several head coaching gigs, or 2) will be average and the Tuberville era won’t take off. But the offense won’t be Tuberville’s only issue.
The biggest problem for Tuberville won’t be the comparisons to Leach, it’ll be the comparisons to Ruffin McNeill. Not only is McNeill not the head coach, he’s not going to be kept around as the defensive coordinator. Considering the great job he did in the Alamo Bowl win over Michigan State, and considering how wildly popular he was with the team, there will be a lot of what iffing going on if Tech doesn’t rock out of the gate.
Tuberville was a safe choice and a not that bad choice. Will he scare Oklahoma and Texas and make the Red Raiders a powerhouse with a chance to win the South? Not unless everything breaks right, but with him at the helm, there’s a floor. Texas Tech will go to bowls and will be fine. It’s just not going to be as fun.
Very nice recovery, Red Raiders.
All things considered, Texas Tech has done a fantastic and swift job of moving past the messy divorce with former head coach Mike Leach. Now, the legal wranglings between the two parties might go on for some time, but it won’t have an impact on the current team’s fortunes. The program has landed a proven head coach, who’s capable of keeping the momentum going in Lubbock.
In terms of college coaches, Tuberville was the best free agent on the market. That Texas Tech was able to lure him to West Texas is a credit to the University and to Leach for making the program so attractive over the past decade. Sure, the folks in Lubbock will miss their old coach, but they’ll grow to like Tubby just the same. And quickly. He’s great with the media and the local community, and loved by his players. If there was stress in that locker room toward the end of the Leach era, there won’t be next fall. Oh, and he wins. He did that often in the toughest conference in the country, winning 110 games over 14 seasons with Ole Miss and Auburn.
Texas Tech exceeded expectations with this hire, forging a relationship with a true professional and a respected leader, who’s going to benefit from the year off he had from the game. At some point, he’ll be asked to narrow the divide that the Red Raiders are facing with Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12 South. That’s no small request, but Tuberville is good enough to deliver once he gets enough time to install his far more conservative system and get his type of players on scholarship.
1) The Jim Leavitt and Pete Carroll stories – in their own ways – were fascinating. Leavitt’s downfall represented a train wreck of particularly ugly proportions, while Carroll’s desire to win in the NFL represented a sad but familiar tale in which competitive lust trumped the ability to keep sports fun and purposeful.
By comparison, Tommy Tuberville’s return to the coaching ranks – a welcome development in a narrow context – is a story that simply falls flat.
Tuberville ran an honest and generally clean program at Auburn, and was pushed out of the Plains because good enough just wasn’t good enough. Tuberville certainly deserved to find his way back into the coaching world, so in that sense, it’s good that Tubs will be strolling along a Saturday sideline once again. Unfortunately, one wishes that he could have climbed back into the college football world through a different portal.
Tech’s decision to bring Tuberville to Lubbock, Tex., is disappointing on a whole host of levels. First of all, Ruffin McNeill – a man who commanded the love and respect of his players – was denied a chance to become the (non-interim) coach for the Red Raiders. If the happiness and holistic well-being of student-athletes was truly the first priority for the administration at Texas Tech University, McNeill would have been given a chance to pilot the program, at least for two years as a calming custodian after the tumultuous denouement of the Mike Leach era.
The second reason why this move doesn’t excite or stir the senses is that it means the death-knell for Tech’s signature offensive system. Tuberville didn’t get along with passing game guru Tony Franklin when the one-time whiz at Troy University was asked to coordinate Auburn’s offense in 2008. Franklin’s spread passing principles lasted for only half a season in SEC country, and since Tuberville’s calling card is defense, it’s hard to imagine that Texas Tech will sling the ball around the stadium with Leach-like flair and panache.
Jim Leavitt merited a ticket out of South Florida after his reprehensible behavior, and was accordingly shown the door yesterday. Perhaps Tommy Tuberville – a former defensive coordinator at Miami (FL) and a man with a feel for Sunshine State recruiting – picked the wrong place to re-emerge in the Football Bowl Subdivision. One can certainly say this: South Florida – and not Texas Tech – represents a much more promising gateway to a BCS bowl.
2) Burning questions: A) Who will be Tuberville’s first offensive coordinator? B) What’s the over-under for offensive coordinators Tubs will bring to Lubbock in his first four years on the job? Three and a half?