Posted: Friday July 28, 2006 9:14PM; Updated: Wednesday August 9, 2006 11:27AM
So how can Tuberville avoid another slip-up like the '03 debacle? Ride this whole thing for what it's worth, baby. This is a team that's dangerous when it's angry; it feeds off being slighted. No one's worn the underdog label this well since Peter La Fleur and the team from Average Joe's Gym.
So fuel the fire, Tommy.
That's not to say for a moment that these allegations aren't extremely serious. They could cost the university and the program if they're proven to be true. But whether or not Tuberville believes his team is at fault, he can still make it a rallying point. Let's face it, it's hard for the public to believe that a student-athlete doesn't receive preferential treatment over your run-of-the-mill college kid. The perception in these cases is guilty until proven innocent; it's a sad truth that turned Maurice Clarett into a punchline. So what would it hurt, at least internally, to make the controversy an issue the team can use as motivation? They rallied when their coach was nearly canned, they rallied when everyone counted them out, and they'll get behind the fact that they're being scrutinized when they feel they did absolutely nothing wrong.
Tuberville said Friday he hopes this whole thing is over before the season, but the Tigers have proven they have a penchant for drama, and this could be national-title, Susan Lucci-worthy material.
Irons alone is good enough for the Tigers to march through the SEC and win a national championship, but for a team that has a nasty habit of tumbling when they're headlining the show, there's nothing wrong with a little controversy to get the blood boiling -- just ask Steve Spurrier.
So have at it, Tommy Tuberville, and here's a log for the fire: Auburn didn't deserve a crack at the 2004 title game.