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News of the day, 1/5

Hey everyone. Judging by the tone of several e-mails I have received during the past 24 hours, it's safe to say a significant sector of the Auburn population is quite unhappy.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the most popular assistant I've covered, has left for the same job at Texas. He'll make less money at Texas. He can't have more coaching autonomy than he had at Auburn. So what happened?

It's something Auburn people will wonder for a while ... until a new defensive coordinator comes along with swell credentials and a commitment to keep the Tigers' defense highly aggressive. Auburn's defense was excellent before Muschamp arrived, was excellent with him here and has a chance to be excellent after his abrupt departure.

I've read a lot of theories. Here are a few:

**Salary. No way. Period. He was going to make $425,000 next season, which is a massive payday for an assistant coach ... particularly one with no head-coaching experience. He knew that. He was totally fine with the financial package Auburn offered.

**Upset with Tony Franklin's spread offense: No way. Period. Muschamp felt strongly that Franklin's ideas were not detrimental to his defense from an overall perspective. Franklin's system, if anything, keeps the offense on the field longer than before. Troy averaged 82 plays per game last season. Auburn ran 90 in the bowl game.

**Upset with Tuberville: I don't think so. Muschamp valued the autonomy Tuberville afforded Muschamp. He was free to run basically anything he wanted and his recruiting opinions carried a lot of weight. Muschamp was happy with that.

**Upset with other elements of the athletic department: That's the most reasonable conclusion. Muschamp is big on being accountable to the people below him in the organizational chain. When kids came to Muschamp for guidance or to make suggestions about their roles on the team, he took each case seriously. He met with players regularly and was surprisingly candid with them about their weaknesses. They appreciated that honesty. Muschamp viewed that as accountability.

Auburn athletics doesn't always operate that way. Suggestions fall on deaf ears at times, though it's impossible to get a true read on how often that happens. Some coaches can brush that stuff aside without a second thought. Some coaches can't. For some coaches, true disgust only comes after serial administrative failures. Others have a much lower threshold.

Muschamp is in the latter group.

Was he mistreated at Auburn? Absolutely not. He liked Auburn. The feeling was mutual. The UT athletics department is a place noted for its massive budget and the sense that everyone is working toward the same goal.

My guess is he found that engaging, novel and worthwhile.

Here is my story from today's editions of the Advertiser:
Auburn coach Muschamp goes to Texas

News of the day, 1/4

MUSCHAMP OUT (@5:02 p.m.) He has accepted the job at Texas, ending a two-year run as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. Here's my mini story:

AU's Muschamp leaves for Texas


Hey everyone.

I have to start by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my mom, who turns 39 again today. She reads the HABOTN and mixes up every fact I report because she's a Big 12 gal. She's great anyway.

Thanks for taking an average of 1 minute, 2 seconds to peep the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net.

Today's story from the Advertiser:
Muschamp interviews at Texas

Well, that's a wrap. Will Muschamp has elected to accept the same job at Texas. I don't know all the reasons behind a decision. I'm not one of these people who believe it's a "lateral" move -- Texas, like it or not, has a higher national profile in many eyes -- and he clearly saw move career value being with the Longhorns. It wasn't about money because he was on the verge of making a $425,000-per-year salary at Auburn. That's a ton of cash. He also had as much autonomy as he wanted at Auburn.

There won't be a search for his replacement. I'm certain Tommy Tuberville already has someone ready to go. I have no idea at this stage who that man might be, but I'm certain that person heard from Tuberville not long after he gave permission for Muschamp to talk with Texas. That's how he rolls.

**Here are the quotes from Muschamp's official Auburn release:
"First, I want to thank (Tuberville) for giving me the opportunity to coach at a special place like Auburn. He was a great coach to work for and the I had a chance to work with an outstanding staff. I want to thank the players for the effort they gave over the last two seasons. Auburn has a great fan base and great support for its football program. It’s been a tough day and a tough decision. However, I feel that this is a decision that’s best for my family.”

**Here are the quotes from Muschamp's official Texas release:
"I’m really excited about the opportunity to work for Mack Brown and The University of Texas. Having followed the Longhorns as a player, coach and fan of college football, I always had a lot of respect for the program, but after visiting the campus, I’m even more impressed. When you think about Texas, you see all of the championships, the great coaches like Darrell Royal and great players like Earl Campbell and Tommy Nobis. Having an opportunity to work at a place like that with such a proud tradition and history excites a young coach like me.”

For the record, I love the Tommy Nobis reference.

LATE UPDATE (@9:15 p.m.): I just spoke with Tuberville for a few minutes. He said he has "four or five" guys in mind to fill the vacancy. He'll meet with several at the AFCA convention this weekend and early next week in Anaheim. "I'll talk to a lot of people," Tuberville said. ``There are a lot of good coaches, defensive coaches, out there who want to coach here. I've already had people calling wanting me to know about this guy or that guy. It's about finding the guy who is the right fit for all of us."

Here are some early updates for the HOTTIES just in from work or whatever ...

UPDATE (@ 11:55 a.m.):
Muschamp will return from Texas around 2:45 p.m. today. The fact that he's coming back without already proclaiming love for Texas could mean he's staying. Can he come back and leave again?

SECOND UPDATE: (@2:15 p.m.): Muschamp's arrival has been delayed slightly. Also, the Houston Chronicle, a reputable newspaper, has reported that Muschamp flew out of Austin without making a decision.

THIRD UPDATE (@3:25 p.m.): Muschamp arrived in a U. Texas plane at 3:05. He traveled with his wife. Muschamp said he hadn't made a decision and was planning to make one after talking with coach Tommy Tuberville later today.

I'm surprised that the peeps at, a Rivals site, had this story up for such a long time. If I wasn't a professional reporter, I'd laugh. I'm 100% sure there wasn't a decision made last night when that "story" first "broke."

I'll be working the phones all day and will provide updates as necessary.

News of the day, 1/3

Hey everyone. I don't have time right now to get up a full blog, but I'm working on the alleged "Muschamp-to-Texas" story. While I don't doubt that Muschamp could be talking with Texas (in earnest), and may even be there at this hour, I'd be floored, shocked, stunned, amazed if Muschamp left Auburn for the same job at Texas.

I've been all those things before -- like when the basketball team beat Wake Forest in the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

Muschamp has a new contract offer on the table from Auburn that is lengthy and lucrative. His next step is a head-coach job, which he can get just as easily from Auburn as he would from Texas. Remember, too, that Muschamp now is represented by agent Jimmy Sexton.

We'll see what develops.

UPDATE: Quote from Muschamp two days before the Chick-fil-A Bowl ... "Whatever's on the Internet or in a newspaper doesn't mean it's true. I think in our society nowadays, if it's in print, it's true. But there's a lot of fiction out there, I can tell you that."

Thanks to Press-Register ace Evan Woodbery for that stroll down memory lane.

SECOND UPDATE (@9:15 p.m.): I just spoke with the Auburn head coach. On Tuesday, he granted Texas coach Mack Brown permission to speak with Muschamp. Tuberville maintained his position that it's good for assistant coaches to be wanted.

THIRD UPDATE (@10:30 p.m.): I just spoke with Tuberville again and he said: "I haven't heard a word." He might not be the FIRST guy to hear something, but I have to believe he'd be near the top.

Questions? Comments? You can email me at or post a comment directly to the blog.

GAME DAY, Auburn vs. Clemson

Hey everyone. I'm here at the Georgia Dome. I love covering games here because I know exactly how to get in and out without much trouble. The secret, in my opinion, is to get here via the Vine St. MARTA station -- not the official Ga. Dome stop. You walk right in.

Let's get to business.

Thanks as always for making this the HOTTEST Auburn blog on the 'net. The National Institute for Hypertext Hotness recently designated us such.

Today's stories from the Advertiser:
Cox approaching the end of a long journey
AU notebook

Recent stories from the Advertiser:
12/30: Auburn being evasive about new offense
12/29: Chris Evans made himself a valuable commodity
12/29: AU notebook
12/28: Auburn giving mixed offensive signals
12/28: AU notebook
12/27: OL working OT on new offense

--------GAME COVERAGE--------

Clemson LB Courtney Vincent, he of the recent DUI arrest, wasn't suspended for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

AUBURN -- 23

AU (1st, 8:54) -- Wes Byrum 36 FG
CU (2nd, 13:14) -- C.J. Spiller 83 run (Mike Buchholz kick)
AU (3rd, 11:33) -- Mario Fannin 22 pass (Byrum kick)
CU (4th, 14:58) -- Buchholz 23 FG
AU (4th, 11:24) -- James Davis 1 run (Buchholz kick)
CU (4th, 8:27) -- Ben Tate 1 run (Byrum kick)
CU (1OT) -- Buchholz 25 FG
AU (1OT) -- Kodi Burns 7 run

First quarter tidbits
They're running the new offense. Four wides is common. There always are three receivers in the game. Plenty of read options. Brandon Cox and Kodi Burns are shuttling in and out. The first drive was a good one, ended with a field goal.

*Mario Fannin is a focal point. He started, has two carries and is on the field often. I haven't seen much of Ben Tate yet. That's interesting because I think he is Auburn's best back.

UPDATE: Tate played more as the quarter progressed.

*Ryan Pugh was called for a chop block on Dorell Scott, who was injured on the play. I won't say it was "dirty," but there was no doubt Pugh was trying to hit Dorell below the waist while he was engaged with Tyronne Green.

*Tight ends are going to be a bigger part of this new offense. Bennett already has two catches. Tommy Trott isn't playing as much, though. It's mostly Bennett and Gabe McKenzie.

Second quarter tidbits
The offense is playing OK now. Not great. I see some awkward stuff. On a recent screen play to Ben Tate, Brad Lester was dropping a cut block. Seemed like a miscommunication to me.

*Auburn's defense totally busted on Clemson's touchdown. Quentin Groves had C.J. Spiller locked down at the line of scrimmage, but he popped out and scored on an 83-yard run. Awful tackling. Can't do that against this team.

*Auburn's defensive line is getting beat right now. Clemson has settled into a power-run paradigm and those offensive linemen are providing a meaningful push up front.

*Clemson's receivers are getting open deep. Cullen Harper is simply overthrowing them right now. We're talking about 2- or 3-yard cushions on deep routes. That will be a problem for Auburn because I'm certain Cullen, an accurate guy, will regain his touch at some point.

Final thoughts
*It's amazing how effective that offense was after only 10 practices. It's clear that Clemson was taken by surprise in terms of the depth of Auburn's attack. This wasn't two plays. This was a system, albeit an abbreviated one, that was pretty dynamic.

*I'm still not sold on Kodi Burns. He played well. He was the difference in the game. Four pass attempts is weird. That's two coordinators now who don't call plays requiring Burns to throw the ball. I'm not sure what's behind those decisions. He was known as a passing guy in high school, so maybe those skills will develop over time.

*Outstanding effort from the defense. Pat Sims was awesome. I think that may have been enough to make him leave early for the NFL. We'll deal with that in the coming weeks. Will Muschamp's system works. He's worth every penny -- and there will be plenty coming his way in 2008.

*It's clear that Mario Fannin is going to be a Franklin fave. He was all over the place tonight.

*Auburn's offensive line has a chance to be really gross during the next few years. The best guy is a guy you never hear anything about: Guard Tyronne Green.

*Walt McFadden really showed out tonight. He made several shrewd plays in pass defense that caught my eye. Maybe he can handle an expanded role in 2008.

Questions? Comments? You can email me at or post a comment directly to the blog.

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