So, I'm minding my own business, revising a recruiting piece that's been coming for a week now (long computer related sob story omitted) and tinkering with tomorrow's Cocktail Thursday post, when . . .
The slow motion, low point total impact collision that was the Tony Franklin Experience at Auburn has come to an end. Track 'Em Tigers sagely notes that regardless of how Auburn fans may have felt about their now former offensive coordinator, having one of your top assistants/gameplanners get canned midway through the season is most certainly not reason to rejoice.
I thought one quote from Tuberville's announcement of the firing was telling: "I'm not satisfied with where we are and I am personally going to take a larger role with the offense the remainder of the season." Now, Franklin is not some first time coordinator who was in over his head at Auburn. The guy has been well known for his offensive system for years now. His website features testimonials from Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher and Arizona OC Sonny Dykes.
This is the rankest of rank speculation, but it sounds like Franklin was true to his "system" and Tuberville was pushing for changes. As Chris of Smart Football pointed out last week before the Vanderbilt fiasco, what Auburn's been running is not in fact what Franklin's been teaching these last few years, and I doubt that's really his choice. The guy has his system, he's marketed his system, and one has to imagine he'd stay true to the system if given the option. But remember folks: when you argue with your boss, he holds the trump card.
In the end though, it's quite possibly the right move for the Tigers, at least over the short to midterm. Why? Because Franklin is a zebra, Auburn is a hippopotamus. Those who've seen the movie Along Came Polly know precisely what I mean (warning: the link is probably PG-13ish). You can't be something you're not, and the Franklin system just ain't Auburn. It doesn't fit the personnel they have on campus right now. It doesn't fit Tuberville's personal coaching tendencies. And it doesn't jive with a smallish, swarming defense that loses it's advantage when you have to send it back on the field over and over again after short offensive series.
It's hard to tell what type of disruption this causes Auburn this season. It's never good to retool your offense during the heart of your conference schedule. Especially on a Wednesday. But if you're going to go out and wing it against any SEC opponent right now, Bobby Petrino's Arkansas Razorbacks are as good a choice as any, especially when you get them at home. Bottom line, Tommy Tuberville made a mistake. He's trying to correct it. Tony Franklin made a mistake. He'll move on and survive. But this will not go down as the more sterling moment of either man's career.