Gap between Auburn and Alabama growing larger

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Auburn's 17-14 Cotton Bowl victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers Monday afternoon wasn't pretty.

In fact, it was ugly in almost every way.

But it was a win.

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The three-point victory came on two scores resulting from bad Nebraska decisions and one field goal that looked as it were making an exit from the stadium and then decided to duck-hook through the uprights.

The Huskers owned the stat sheet from passing to rushing, but the Tigers owned the only thing that mattered: the scoreboard.

The win gave the Tigers 11 on the season, making head coach Tommy Tuberville the only coach in Auburn history to record two 11-win seasons.

The win gave the Tigers their fourth bowl win in the last five years and Auburn now has averaged 11 wins over the last three years.

It doesn't appear that will change anytime soon.

Although the Tigers have tough road Trips to LSU, Florida, Arkansas and Georgia next season, Auburn, under Tuberville, has become the team you expect to win and the team you can't count out. The Tigers have even had trouble finding an opponent to fill next year's schedule.

The Tigers return many impact players on both offense and defense and should end this season ranked in the Top 5.

The most important figure about next season's Tigers is the return of one single individual: Tommy Tuberville.

In his 100th game at the helm of the Tigers Monday, Tuberville proved to the football world why Auburn has become the hunter instead of the hunted.

The same can't be said about the Crimson Tide.

Following a heart-breaking three-point loss to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl, the Crimson Tide has turned its attention to just finding a head coach.

With the close of the NFL regular season, it appears the Tide &#8220powers that be” will push to make a huge offer to Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban to make him the next head coach at the university.

Early reports state the university is planning to make a 10-year deal worth $40-50 million plus a huge, multi-million dollar signing bonus.

Even though the former LSU coach has vehemently and repeatedly denied interest in the ‘Bama job, he has agreed to meet with school officials.

The possibility of Saban returning to the college ranks has ‘Bama fans chomping at the bit, but the likelihood that it will happen appears to be slim-to-none.

Just ask Rich RodriguezŠ and Steve Spurrier.

If Saban does decide Tuscaloosa is where he wants to be, the ever-growing gap between the Tide and Tigers will immediately begin to shrink.

Saban to Tuscaloosa would make the Tide immediate SEC contenders for the 2007 season.

However, if Saban decides to turn down the offer and remain in Miami, the only team that will benefit will be the Auburn Tigers.

Now that the season is over, the next big game for the Tide and Tigers occurs in just weeks on signing day in February when recruits decide who they want to play for.

Who will recruits choose to play for?

A proven winner like Tuberville or a coach to be named?

It's tough to close the ever-growing gap between the two teams when one coach is signing players and the other school can't even sign a coach.