By Mike Tankersley
Join the club, Alabama and Georgia. And Virginia Tech is welcome, too.
That was the message Monday from Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, who spoke at the Montgomery Quarterback Club's noon luncheon two days after watching his team's 13-game SEC winning streak come to an end at Baton Rouge.
Tuberville, whose team was shut out of the BCS national title game last season, was asked if he thought the same thing might happen to an SEC school again this year. That got him started on the Bowl Championship Series system and the national media, particularly ESPN.
"It's done," Tuberville said. "The national media, led by ESPN, wants to see Vince Young vs. Matt Leinart in the championship game. It's going to be those two teams unless Texas or USC get upset.
"Last year, they wanted to see the two Heisman Trophy quarterbacks, Jason White and Leinart. After six or seven games, we were out of it.
"If four teams are undefeated at the end of the season, there should be a playoff. There should've been one last year. But it's decided already. I don't like it."
Tuberville spoke out sharply against ESPN and the influence it wields on the college game. He said the opinions ESPN hosts and analysts put out on the airwaves each week tend to shape the opinions of fans and media people around the country.
And he's not at all happy about that.
"ESPN has gotten so much power lately, it's kinda scary," Tuberville said. "And most of their analysts are coaches who haven't won any games. That's why they're there. I think you know who I'm talking about.
"And Lou Holtz gets on there and talks about what a team has to do win that game, and the guy couldn't beat anybody in our conference. These guys will come talk to you and look you straight in the eye and tell you something, then they'll get on the air and say something else.
"ESPN, I'll tell you, I don't have much to do with them anymore."
Tuberville told the audience that when he got to his office Sunday after attending church, he heard a noise from the practice field. He checked it out and saw that it was John Vaughn, who was kicking by himself off a tee.
"I guess he was kicking out his frustrations," Tuberville said, referring to Vaughn's five missed field-goal attempts Saturday night. "He's sick about it. He's a good kicker. He just had one of those nights. We all have them. And you'll never hear or read about this, but the wind on that field was swirling. It was a guessing game as to where to kick the ball. But he'll recover."
Tuberville said he paid close attention to the Auburn players after the game. He hated losing the game, but what he saw from his players afterward inspired him.
"You find out a lot about people in a situation like that," he said. "I sat back in the locker room and watched John (Vaughn), and every player on that team came by and said something to him. You travel with 70 players, and every one of them went by and talked to him.
"I don't mean they just patted him on the back. They all went up to him and sat down and talked to him. I was very proud of that. That kid was upset."
Tuberville thinks his team grew up a little while battling LSU on the road.
"When you do lose, you want it to affect your players," Tuberville said. "There weren't five words said on the entire plane ride home, and that was a long trip. It affected our guys."