Auburn’s Lost Class: Why Tuberville Should Shoulder Some Blame For Auburn’s Defensive Woes

For most of the past thirty years, Auburn has been a major player in the SEC. One has to wonder with the great recruiting classes Gene Chizik and staff have brought to Auburn, how have they fallen so hard and so fast.

Looking at the previous three years of recruiting under former coach Tommy Tuberville helps to answer the question.

Each of these three classes were full of signed players that never qualified, were dismissed from the team, never met academic standards or essentially never contributed much on the field. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the defensive side of the ball.

Make no mistake, there was enough talent for the current staff to assemble a national champion, with help from some key recruits from the Gene Chizik era, but there was little depth behind that Auburn starting lineup in 2010.

Perhaps the worst recruiting class of the bunch was the 2008 class. As bad as Tuberville’s 2008 team played on the field, his 2008 recruiting class was equally as bad. This class should be providing upperclassmen leadership during the 2011 season, but for reasons cited above, the holes are large. Making matters more difficult is the fact that Gene Chizik had less than a month to assemble his 2009 class.

Here’s an in-depth look at that 2008 class, and why Auburn is such a young team this year. Star ratings are provided from

Darvin Adams - Photo from Icon SMI

Darvin Adams (3-Star WR) – One of the best receivers in the conference last year, and is now with the Carolina Panthers.

Harry Adams (3-Star WR) – Played some as a reserve CB, and on special teams, before being dismissed from the team in 2009 for “unspecified rules violations”.

Ken Adams (2-Star TE/DE) – Failed to qualify and Coach Chizik and staff didn’t offer him a scholarship when he finally gained his eligibility.

Da’Shaun Barnes (2-Star LB) – never played a snap for Auburn, and was given a medical hardship .

T’Sharvin Bell (4-Star ATH) – Has developed into a leader in the Auburn secondary .

Drew Cole (3-Star DB) – Has seen very limited action for Auburn. As a senior this year, he is listed at third team on the depth chart.

Dax Dellenbach (2-Star Deep Snapper) – Never played a down for Auburn. He left the team in the Summer of 2008, before the start of football.

DeRon Furr (4-Star ATH) – He was recruited as a QB, but was given the opportunity to try DB when he was deep on the depth chart at QB. Although the details are sketchy, there seems to have been a brawl on the practice field, and he was the target because of his lack of intensity during practice. He left school shortly after this incident and transferred to Memphis. This incident also cost Auburn several other players from his high school, Carver High in Columbus, Georgia. Once a hotbed of talent for the Tigers, Auburn had been pretty much shut out of this area recently until the signing of Gabe Wright this year.

Raven Gray (5-Star DE) – Struggled with injuries and never played a down for Auburn. He transferred to Division II Delta State, with the hopes of getting more playing time.

Cameron Henderson (4-Star DE) – Was suspended for the entire 2009 season, and left the team before the 2010 season.

D’Antoine Hood (3-Star DB) – D’Antoine saw very little playing time in his backup role at CB, and transferred to Alabama State just weeks before the 2010 season.

Reggie Hunt (3-Star RB) – Failed to qualify academically, and began his career at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. He was not offered by Auburn after JUCO, and signed with Southern Miss.

Marcus Jemison (3-Star ATH) – Was being worked as possible DB or LB before being dismissed from the team in June of 2009.

Jermaine Johnson (5-Star OL) – Jermaine was supposed to be a building block for future Auburn offensive lines. He never qualified and ended up at Miami.

Philip Pierre-Louis (3-Star ATH) – Often injured during his time at Auburn, he never caught a pass in three seasons. He left the team this Spring.

Spencer Pybus (2-Star LB) – Spencer made Feshman All-American in his first season at Auburn, but a recurring issue with concussions caused him to give up football.

Derrick Lykes (2-Star DE) – Redshirted in 2008, and played sparingly in 2009 and 2010. He was dismissed from the team in August for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Onterio McCalebb (4-Star RB) – Onterio is an integral part of the Auburn offense. He has breakaway speed to the outside, but has not shown the ability to run inside.

Jamorcus Savage (3-Star DT) – Was redshirted in 2008 and dismissed from the team June, 2009 for classroom disruptions, and missing some workouts.

Brandon Smith (2-Star ATH) – Brandon was a sign and place player for Auburn. He was never offered another scholarship from Auburn after JUCO.

Eric Smith (3-Star RB) – Was a contrinutor on the 2010 national championship squad, but was dismissed this Spring for an unspecified violation of team rules. Whether it was part of the reason he was dismissed or not, he settled an assault lawsuit out of court in May of this year.

Vance Smith (3-Star TE) – Moved to tackle but eventually quit football because of injuries.

Freddie Smooth (3-Star OL) – Never qualified. He was charged with 1st degree murder in December, 2010.

Christian Thompson (3-Star S) – Played sparingly as a freshman, and received a lot of playing time during the Spring practice of 2009. Thompson had a good deal of potential, but was off the team by June of 2009.

Nieko Thorpe (3-Star CB) – Currently a starting safety for Auburn.

Chris Todd (3-Star QB) – After joining the team as a JUCO transfer, his junior year was a disaster. However, he excelled under the tutelage of Gus malzahn in 2009, breaking several Auburn records.

Barrett Trotter (3-Star QB) – Auburn’s current starting QB, he’s battled back from a torn ACL, which has limited his experience before taking the reins this season.

Andre Wadley (3-Star DE) – Moved to OL, but never played before ending his career in July, 2009 for health problems.

Derrick Winter (2-Star WR) – A success story off the field, though he didn’t contribute much on the field. he got his degree early and left the team in Spring, 2011 to pursue a career in accounting.

This class was mediocre at best, with very few star players, but the attrition from the players that were signed made this essentially a lost class. Though Chizik signed a better class in 2009, it was nowhere near good enough to replace the players lost from Tuberville’s last few recruiting classes.

If you look at the defense for Auburn in 2011, you’ll see very few upperclassmen, rather many freshmen and sophomores. This was not by design, but out of necessity. There is very little senior leadership, and this causes Auburn to miss a lot of assignments or get caught in the wrong coverage.

Clemson is probably not the last of the embarrassing losses for Auburn in 2011, but they have to overcome a class that should be there, but isn’t. This problem should work itself out as these young players mature, and could actually make Auburn a much stronger team in 2012 and beyond.

As Auburn fans, we can only hope for the best each week, and accept what happens on the field. It’s like a virus, and we’re suffering through the final stages of the poor decisions and recruiting that plagued the last few years of the Tuberville era.



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  • One other loss Auburn is most likely going to have to deal with at the end of this year or the end of 2012 is the loss of Gus Malzahn. Someone will come calling, and Gus will jump at the chance to be a head coach. It will be interesting to see how effective Chiziks offense is without Guss next to him on the sidelines, and how many recruits decide to go elsewhere because they will not have the chance to play under Malzahn.

    • Gus Malzahn will not “jump at the chance to be a head coach”. He was offered 3 million annually to be the head coach at Vanderbilt this past season and turned it down. He has stated that he’d like to be a head coach someday, but will wait for the right opportunity. I wouldn’t categorize that as “jumping at the chance…”. But yes, Gus Malzahn will eventually leave Auburn, but he’s not the only reason kids come to Auburn.

      Many of the assistants that Coach Chizik hired were renowned for being great recruiters when they were hired on as Auburn assistants. If Coach Malzahn should leave, there are a lot of young coaches out there who know and understand this same offense, as was witnessed by Clemson’s new offensive coordinator on Saturday. Their playbook was eerily similar to Auburn’s, and their execution was even better.

      • How do you blame Tubberville for those players? The fact is Chizik, Trooper and company only want thugs that they recruit. Notice how many of those players were dismissed for unspecified reasons. It was a cleaning of house by the current regime. Auburn is going to find out how good Tubberville was. I agree that he lost interest toward the end, but the main reason for that was his refusal to go along with the Board of Trustee’s and Athletic Director’s cheating ways any longer. He finally got smart and got the hell out. Auburn may say they fired him, but he was more than ready to go. He was fed up, and I guarantee you he’s smiling every day thinking about the money that Auburn had to pay him. It’s articles like yours and Scab’s on today that are going to end up doing more damage to AU than anything or anyone else possibly could. You are going to finally piss him off once and for all, and he’s going to let all of Auburn’s dirty little secrets out of the bag.

        What about the players from the 2009 class that have already left campus of their own accord or due to their legal problems. Tell me what happened to Dontae Aycock 4*, Terrance Coleman 3*, Robert Cooper 2*, Anthony Gulley 3*, Andre Harris 3*, Josh Jackson 2*, Brandon Jacobs 3*, LaVoyd James 3*, Izauea Lanier 3*, Talkwon Paige 4*, Tyrik Rollison 4* and Reggie Taylor 4*. Now, find a way to blame Tubberville for all their disappearances. Can’t do it. Half of the 2009 signing class is no longer at Auburn. Think about that for a minute.

        Now, let’s look at the 2010 class. You know, those kids who are redshirt freshmen or sophomores, Troop and Lupes thuglets. What happened to Shon Coleman 5*, Jessel Curry 3*, Roszell Gayden 4*, Antonio Goodwin 4*, Shaun Kitchens 3* and Dakota Mosley 3*. Wow that’s already six out of the 2010 class who either left or are headed to jail. Look at the quality kids Luper and Trooper are recruiting. It may be cute to talk the slang, flash the gang signs and be cool with them. It may look good on paper when they sign their names on the dotted line. What good is it doing Auburn when they never get to play because they’re drug crazed thugs?

        I have to wonder how many out of the 2011 class will be left by this time next year. I can only imagine what the attrition rate for the 2010 class will be by August 2012. The responsibility for the lack of leadership falls on one coaching staff. That is the current coaching staff supposedly run by Chizik, whom we all know is nothing more than a mouthpiece for a corrupt program. Lack of leadership may be a problem, but the main lack of leadership is coming from coaches who want to be the players friends, do chest bumps with them and wave ridiculous towels. There is no DISCIPLINE on this team. How else do you explain three unsportsmanlike conduct calls in the first three or four minutes of a ballgame? Auburn fans need to face the truth. The only way you won a National Championship last year was luck, Cam Newton and Nick Fairley (who, by the way, was recruited by Tubberville). It’s plain and simple. Chizik won a National Championship with Tubberville’s players. Now we’re seeing what this current regime is capable of. Sad, huh?

        • About that 2009 recruiting class. Coach Chizik was hired less than a month before signing day. During this short span, Coach Chizik not only had to be a one man recruiting staff, but also had to find assistants and get them on the ground running. The vast majority of the top players had already committed elsewhere, leaving Chizik the option of not signing a full class, even though Auburn was already going to be short on numbers, or taking what he could get. A large portion of his 2009 signees were actually Coach Tuberville’s recruits.

          As for Auburn’s buyout of Tuberville, every coach at every school has a buyout clause in their contract. The only way Auburn could legally change coaches, and it was obvious that a change was needed, was to pay Tuberville his buyout clause.

          As for your allegations of cheating, I shouldn’t even honor it with a response, but I will anyway. The NCAA has been investigating the recruitment of Cam Newton since last Summer because of improper recruiting efforts by Mississippi State and his father. As yet the NCAA has not sent Auburn a preliminary letter of investigation, which is the first step in a formal investigation of a school’s football program. In other words, after a year of sifting through Auburn’s records and interviews, the NCAA hasn’t found enough to pique their interest enough to begin a formal investigation.

        • Shon Coleman got Cancer. He attends every game, and cheers his team on from the sidelines, douchebag,.

      • several replies to the idiot Bama or UGA poster “Pamela”– Shon Coleman had CANCER you ass… are surely a disgruntled parent or a green- with- jealousy Bama or UGA weirdo.Could be another SEC team who cannot deal with our National CHampionship– but Im betting on UGA or Bama.The NCAA has not found anything that warrants any LOI or NOA- just because you believe chatroom rumors, does not make it true.
        AS for the other opinions here:
        You could take any team in the SEC and list players that had discipline or academic problems and call the coaches corrupt– Im not positive Tuberville deserves the blame or not here. Tuberville did some good things and had some great teams at AU. IF and when NCAA ever finds AU guilty of the wrongdoing they deserve no mercy but I do not think this will ever happen. If it does, I will not defend them, but the sick bile this “woman” spews– so pathetic, really.

  • You shouldnt blame anyone but the current coaches for Auburns problem. I always said last year they was more lucky than good. Auburn is a good team but they relay on the offense to score more hoping the defense holds them under 30 pts. Last season it was like a hollywood script.2 stars Cam and Nick, lots of Supporting castmates. Won games in dramatic fashion. Truth is Auburn used Cam and Nick too much. In other words they didnt plan for Life after Cam and Nick.
    As for Tuberville getting some of the blame, I dont think so. He maybe not the best at recruiting, but he did have good defense. That is the downside to Chizik. he doesnt have the best defenses and its showing now. Auburn never had great defenses. Think about it. All of Auburn’s great players were on the offense. There was a few named players on defense but you remember the running backs and QBs. So Truth is until Auburn finds a defensive version of Coach Malzahn, the defense will keep on being in the bottom.

    • Until the past few seasons, Auburn was more known for defense than offense. The 2004 Auburn defense was one of the stingiest in the nation. The defensive coordinator on that team was Gene Chizik, so you can’t really say that the current coaching staff doesn’t know how to coach defense. It’s a lot easier to coach a unit when the players you’re coaching are SEC caliber, aren’t fresh from high school and have able backups to give them rests.

  • Did you ever stop and think that maybe they haven’t gotten a formal letter because every rock they turn over yields two more snakes to follow up on. You people are incredibly naive (or ostriches) if you still believe MSU is the only school they’re investigating in the Cam Newton case. How do you totally ignore everything the NCAA themselves has said about the investigation?

  • Pamela, the NCAA doesn’t build a case and then send a Preliminary Letter of Inquiry. If they find anything that sends up a red flag… ANYTHING… they immediately send a preliminary letter of investigation. This notifies the school that they are being investigated. I’m not saying Auburn isn’t being investigated for the recruitment of Cam Newton. Anytime charges are brought by someone, the NCAA investigates it. However, in three separate statements, the NCAA has stated that they have found no connection between the dealings of Mississippi State and Cecil Newton that involves either Cam Newton or Auburn University. That’s a pretty bold statement by the body that’s doing the investigation. How can you completely ignore that? Auburn declared Newton ineligible before the SEC Championship game, and the NCAA reinstated his eligibility the following day. If they thought he was involved in the MSU-Cecil Newton pay for play, do you think they would have reinstated his eligibility?

    This is what Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA himself said, “…The NCAA looks at each student-athlete eligibility decision based on its merits, because no two are identical. In the Cam Newton reinstatement case, there was not sufficient evidence available to establish he had any knowledge of his father’s actions and there was no indication he actually received any impermissible benefit. If a student-athlete does not receive tangible benefits, that is a different situation from a student-athlete or family member who receives cash, housing or other benefits or knowingly competes and is compensated as a professional athlete….”

    Alabama Alumni Danny Sheridan was supposed to reveal a “money bags” man a couple of months ago, but crawfished when given the opportunity to tell the NCAA what he knew. The NCAA didn’t take his backpedaling lightly, saying, “Danny Sheridan continues to make vague, unsubstantiated claims without backing them up with proof. Contrary to his claims of having an inside source with details on the Auburn investigation, the NCAA has not provided information to Sheridan or anyone else. As a matter of due diligence, the NCAA spoke with Sheridan this week to determine if he had any facts pertaining to the investigation. Sheridan, however, did not provide any information to the enforcement staff and certainly did not provide a name. Instead, he unsuccessfully attempted to gather information for his own use.”

    There are forces out there that still want to find something sinister in the fact that the NCAA has not ended the investigation. The fact is that the NCAA is a lot like the government when it comes to expediency, but the fact remains that by their own admissions have found no wrongdoing on Auburn or Cam Newton’s part in the investigation, and have not send a preliminary Letter of Inquiry indicating they have some serious questions to be answered.

  • Stop blaming Tommy Tubberville.

    Chizik has had top classes every year he has been there, including the class before his first full year. Malzhan and Chizik have spent the first couple of years and most of their energy recruiting offensive players and lost a few of them. This is Chizik’s 3rd year, if he is playing young guys, it is because he didn’t recruit or he didn’t prepare them.

  • Blame Tubberville! Y’all sound like Nobama blaming everything on Bush! Is not the Aubie coaching staff the highest paid staff in the country? Chiz has1 good year because of Scam and everyone makes a lot of money when thay couldn’t coach themselves out of a wet rag. They should be required to pay back money if they lose a predetermined number of games. Show some accountability!

    • The Investigation was closed FIVE days BEFORE you wrote this ignorant statement, clearing Cam Newton and Auburn University clear of any rules violations. Furthermore, please tell me what your political beliefs have to do with SEC coaching.

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