Will Tuberville Vote Auburn Ahead Of Ohio State?
By Dan Harralson
The 2013 Iron Bowl lived up to the hype and the Auburn Tigers now have a chance to play for the national championship in Pasadena.
A win over fourth-ranked Missouri in the SEC championship game, preceded by a victory over then-No. 1 Alabama, may be enough for Auburn to create a debate, sway some voters and jump Ohio State even if the Buckeyes stay undefeated following the Big Ten championship game against a one-loss Michigan State team.
Auburn currently sits 25 points behind Urban Meyer and Ohio State in the coaches poll. Auburn won't make up ground unless the coaches value the Tigers' tougher schedule, early road loss and dominant play of late as somehow more deserving than an undefeated team that has played a weaker schedule.
Former Auburn head coach and current Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville will have a role in if Auburn can catch Ohio State in the poll used by the BCS formula. Tuberville has a vote and he knows first-hand about being left out of the BCS national championship game after playing a tougher schedule than the final second-place team in 2004. His Auburn Tigers finished 13-0 that season, but fell behind an Oklahoma team that went on to be blown out by USC (which the NCAA eventually deemed a cheater).
"I think Ohio State right now probably is leading everyone else in everybody's mind as the No. 2 team, but I'm going to hold back my judgment until late Saturday because they're playing probably the best team they've played all year long in Michigan State," Tuberville told Football.com.
With Florida State and Heisman front-running quarterback Jameis Winston being one felony charge away from sitting out of the national championship game, it seems that Auburn will be left out again. If Florida State and Ohio State win Saturday, the two teams may stay ahead of Auburn even if the third-ranked Tigers defeat Missouri.
Voters need to be aware of Florida State's predicament and Winston's inability to play if he is charged from now until Jan. 6. A voter needs to take into account a Florida State team without Winston in Pasadena, alongside an Auburn team coming off back-to-back Top 5 wins and has also played a tougher schedule than Ohio State.
Think about it from Tuberville's current situation: A vote against Ohio State can go in Tuberville's favor recruiting Ohio players against the Buckeyes and their quest to be atop college football. Tuberville is part of the Auburn family and his son is on the current Auburn team, enough probable cause to imagine Auburn picking up a vote from him.
Tuberville was in attendance Saturday and witnessed the Tigers' upset win over Alabama.
"For that game to end like that. I've never seen anything like it," Tuberville said. "I've been coaching a long long time and seen a lot of football games. It was exciting. My son (Tucker) plays there and obviously involved with that and proud for him to be a small part of a huge football game that will be talked about for a long time."
Auburn still has to go out and take care of business against a Missouri defense that has a plus-15 turnover margin.
"Somebody's going to have a loss no matter what at the end of this one," Tuberville said. "It's the last year we're in this (BCS) situation, but I think it's going to be a close finish here at the end trying to make the championship game."