Tuberville out after 10 seasons as Auburn coach

AUBURN, Ala. -- For most of Tommy Tuberville's 10 seasons as Auburn coach, the Tigers were the best college football team in a state where that title is almost as important as the national championship.

In 2008, Nick Saban and Alabama took the state back as Tuberville's Tigers faltered, and that was enough to make Auburn want a change in leadership.

Tuberville stepped down Wednesday, ending a tenure that included a perfect season and a string of teams that contended for Southeastern Conference championships.

He was 85-40 in his decade with Auburn, including a 13-0 season in 2004 when the Tigers finished No. 2 in the nation and won the SEC title for the first time in 15 years. But Auburn went 5-7 this year and was routed 36-0 at the end by rival Alabama, currently ranked No. 1.

Tuberville met with university president Jay Gogue on Monday. The decision was made after Tuberville met with Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs for the second time in as many days on Wednesday.

"The last 10 years have been a great time in my life, both professionally and personally," Tuberville said in a statement. "It's been a great place to coach and live, and we've had a lot of success along the way. I'm going to remain in Auburn and help the Auburn family however I can. I'm very appreciative of the coaches, players, staff and Auburn fans over the last decade."

Tuberville informed the players in a team meeting at the football complex after three days of meetings with Auburn officials. The players were not allowed to speak to the media as they walked out or lingered in the parking lot afterward.

"Tommy and I have had the opportunity to discuss the direction of the program," Jacobs said in a statement. "Through those discussions, Tommy felt it would be in his and the program's best interest to step aside as Auburn's head football coach."

The decision was first reported by the Birmingham (Ala.) News.

The Tigers lost six of their last seven games after a failed move to the spread offense that was abandoned -- along with first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin -- at midseason. Their first five SEC losses came by a combined 23 points, falling just short of the end zone on final drives against Arkansas and Georgia and twice losing by one point after missed PATs.

The season also included an ugly 3-2 win over Mississippi State.

Auburn's offense sputtered badly the past two seasons. Tuberville gambled with the hire of Franklin and a departure from the team's more traditional, run-oriented attack, going to the no-huddle, spread at a school noted for turning out NFL-caliber tailbacks.

The Tigers finished 11th in the Southeastern Conference and 110th of 119 teams in scoring offense, and a midstream switch back to the smashmouth style didn't help.

The biggest problems all were evident in the season finale against Alabama. The Tigers had three turnovers and never got clicking behind sophomore quarterback Kodi Burns while a talented defense that kept getting put back out on the field sputtered. It was the first time Auburn had been shut out in 75 games, dating back to a 23-0 loss to Southern California to open the 2003 season. It was also the Tigers' worst loss to the Crimson Tide since a 38-0 defeat in 1962, and ended Auburn's six-game winning streak against its rival.

In the four seasons prior to 2008, Tuberville guided the Tigers to 42 victories and an 82.4 percent winning percentage. His 2004 team finished 13-0 and won the SEC championship, but was left out of the BCS Championship Game.

The Tigers had won five of their previous six bowl games, including an overtime victory over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.

Tuberville's contract was extended through 2013 after the previous season and was worth $3.3 million annually. It also included a $6 million buyout if he was fired after this season.

Auburn's statement said the $5.1 million prorated buyout will be paid but no state or university funds will be used. Jacobs is scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the coaching change.

A representative of Auburn reached out to Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, through intermediaries, to gauge his interest in the opening, on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the conversation told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Tuberville joins Mississippi State's Sylvester Croom and Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer as SEC coaches stepping down this season after both teams also failed to live up to expectations.

Information from ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.