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Shane’s Column: Who’s In Charge?


Let me take you back to last fall. It was a typical Monday on the Paul Finebaum Radio Network, with most of the discussion focused on the preceding week’s football games. Five o’clock rolled around, and former Auburn head coach Pat Dye made his usual appearance, for his normal mindless chat session with the host.
On this day, however, Dye seemed especially hyped. He proceeded to give a clinic to Paul and the audience about the virtues of the “spread” offense. He seemed convinced this offense was the key to Auburn’s future success. Lo and behold, at the end of the season, the Tiger’s offensive coordinator, Al Borges was sent packing, and along comes Tony Franklin – “King of the Spread.”

Regardless of the truth, you have to admit that coach Dye got his wish. If you want to question my thought process here, go ahead, but I’ll mention several good indicators in the following paragraphs. I’ll let you determine if I could be on to something here.

I don’t buy the sudden wholesale philosophical change by Tommy Tuberville. He is a coach cut from the mold of Stallings; defensive-minded and moderately conservative on offense. “Big Al” was considered a radical move when Tuberville hired him to run the wide-open “West Coast” offense. After watching Tubby choke Al down for the last two years, I can’t believe Tommy is now ready to toss the rock sixty times a game.

That said, maybe that embarrassing duck hunting trip last year, coupled with constant rumors of his blatant flirtations with other jobs while he was getting his tail kicked in recruiting by Nick Saban, put him on the bottom of the totem pole down on the Plains.

Anyway, Patrick Fain Dye and Troy University head coach Larry “keep it down home cuz” Blakeney, have known each other longer than most people have been alive. By the way, Tony Franklin was the offensive guru for the Trojans last season.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where the new Auburn “Spread” comes from – does it? Do you think Dye and Blakeney would actually discuss football philosophy? I should also mention that Larry was a former offensive coach for Pat at Auburn. He appeared to take the fall for the Family when the NCAA cleaned Auburn’s clock and in essence ended the Dye era.

I’ve read commentary and listened to Tuberville’s assistants on the airwaves for years. They are personable, but basically stick to the party line, never veering far off center. This new guy Franklin speaks with the authority of a head coach. When you listen to him you almost get the impression he alone makes all the offensive decisions. He doesn’t sound like he answers to Tuberville. That said, maybe Tommy is letting Tony tie his own rope?

When it comes to hiring assistant coaches, Tommy Tuberville has typically reached across great distances to find very good coaches. Who led him a few miles across the state to the Troy Trojans? Besides, we could all name several top-notch young “Spread” coordinators across the country that can call plays and run an offense better than Franklin.

I think Tommy Tuberville knows he can get a better coach. I hate to sound harsh, but the man was coaching at Troy. Franklin apparently couldn’t get a better job, either due to his failure to impress coaches of the major schools, or the sour NCAA deal at Kentucky. Tuberville has said nothing to convince me this is his man or the type of individual he would select as a coach. I wonder if Tony duck hunts?

Judging by the speed of Auburn’s conversion to the “Spread,” and the fact it followed the exact philosophy of Pat Dye’s lecture on that late evening chat session with Paul Finebaum, I think it is reasonable to assume that Dye’s fingerprints are all over this move and his saddle is mounted squarely upon Tuberville’s back. At least there is one happy coach at Auburn. I don’t know about Tommy, but coach Dye is probably happier than a pig rolling in the mud.