Instead, it should serve as a cautionary tale. After all, the pressures and rigors involved with big-time college football aren't for anyone. As offensive coordinator Tony Franklin learned last year at Auburn, it certainly isn't for him.
Franklin, you may remember, didn't even spend a full season as Auburn's offensive coordinator. After a terrible start to the season for his spread offense, head coach Tommy Tuberville fired Franklin after six games. Of course, Tuberville famously followed Franklin out the door upon season's end.
Now the offensive coordinator for Middle Tennessee, Franklin pulled no punches in an interview with the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. It's clear that Auburn wasn't a good place for him, and he admits that.
"It was the most unusual place I've ever been," Franklin said of the Auburn program. "No one liked anybody else. There was this deep distrust of everybody. The coaches didn't trust the administration, the administration didn't trust each other or the coaches. It was very strange and very unnerving. You would walk down the halls and there would be tension you could just feel.From the sound of it, one would think there was never really a chance for Franklin to be successful. For that matter, Franklin saw the writing on the wall when Tuberville let him go at midseason.
"No one would speak to you or even look at you. The coaches were all paranoid and didn't trust anyone in the administration. They all felt like the administration was out to get them and they stressed out over everything that happened. "
During his final meeting with Tuberville, Franklin said Tuberville told him that "it just wasn't working," but never gave a reason for changing his mind.Franklin made it clear in the interview that he's happy with his career path, even though it took him back to a "lesser" conference (the Sun Belt).
Also, during that meeting, Franklin said he told Tuberville that the Auburn administration was going to fire Tuberville at the end of the year.
Part of the reason for that prediction -- in addition to the rift within the athletic department -- was a general feeling among the staff and others around the AU program that football within the state was changing with the hiring of Nick Saban at Alabama.
"I've been here a few months now and I don't think I've been recognized once," said Franklin, who was hired as the Blue Raiders' offensive coordinator in February. "I can go out and have a beer somewhere and not worry about winding up on the Internet the next day.This should absolutely be a story young coaches around the country read. Just because someone has big-time coaching aspirations doesn't mean they have to work in an environment like the SEC. There are knives flying at people's backs all over the place, and nobody knows that better than Tuberville himself after the legendary attempt by Auburn's administration to hire Bobby Petrino in 2003.
"I don't have to worry about all the crap you face in the SEC with its ridiculous, nit-picky rules and regulations on everything you do. I'm a guy who likes to walk down the street and not have to worry all the time about people watching me, waiting on me to screw up. I have that here."
Some coaches can thrive in this high-pressure workplace. Others flame out and are never the same again.
For Tony Franklin, his firing may have been the best thing that could have happened. He got off the ship before it took on too much water. You might not think he's better off, but it's obvious he does.