CATEGORY: FOC College Football

AUTHOR: TODD

HED:Tuberville leaving Ole Miss for Auburn

By Todd Vinyard

Daily Journal

All the speculation and rumors will end today.

Ole Miss coach Tommy Tuberville, 44, will accept the Auburn coaching job today a source close to the Rebel football program said late Friday night. Tuberville could not be reached for comment.

"We don't know anything (about Tuberville's decision)," said Ole Miss receiver Jamie Armstrong, who was attending the Amory-Shannon high school game Friday night.

Tuberville's expected departure comes at a time when Ole Miss (6-5) is on the bubble for a bowl appearance. The Rebels would be without their coach and probably starting quarterback Romaro Miller.

Ole Miss players said Tuberville, who has not beaten Auburn or Alabama in eight tries at Ole Miss, told them after the game everything would be decided Saturday. Thursday night after a 28-6 loss to Mississippi State, Tuberville wouldn't say if he was leaving.

"As far as I know right now I'm going to be coaching (at Ole Miss)," Tuberville said. "There's nothing to say. I'm not looking for a job. I told everybody that. ...Now we have to wait and see what happens."

Auburn's head coaching position opened on Oct. 23 when Terry Bowden resigned after a 1-5 start, which included a 17-0 win at Ole Miss. Bowden resigned in the midst of Auburn's worst season since 1952.

Tuberville, a Camden, Ark., native, was 25-20 in four years at Ole Miss, and was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1997. Ole Miss had winning seasons three of Tuberville's four years, despite losing 26 scholarships to NCAA probation in his first two years.

Besides Tuberville, Ole Miss has kept nine assistant coaches together the past four years. Most of the staff is expected to follow Tuberville depending on who is named the next coach.

Offensive cordinator Noel Mazzone, line coach Hugh Nall and defensive cordinator Art Kaufman are thought to be potential Ole Miss coaching candidates if they don't go with Tuberville.

Outside candidates for the job appear to be Tulane head coach Tommy Bowden, Southern Methodist University head coach Mike Cavan and Tennessee assistant coach David Cutcliffe.

Bowden, the brother of former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, was a finalist for the Ole Miss job four years ago when Tuberville was hired. The Columbia State newspaper in South Carolina reported Bowden interviewed with Clemson Friday and was going to interview with South Carolina today in New Orleans. Bowden did not return a phone call from the Daily Journal.

Cutcliffe was in Nashville Friday where No. 1 Tennessee will meet Vanderbilt today. He did not return a call left at the team's hotel.

Cavan has been at SMU two years and led the Mustangs to a 6-5 record in 1997. Cavan said from his home in Dallas Friday night he had not been contacted by Ole Miss, but said he would be interested.

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