[Ed: Hat tip to Brian Bennett for the template. Hat tip to Babaoreally for suggesting this FanPost.]
On Saturday afternoon, Tommy Tuberville, former coach of Auburn, an SEC team that perennially challenges for the SEC and national championships, left his job at Texas Tech to become the head football coach at Cincinnati, a team in the Big East.. This is obviously bad for for Texas Tech. But it is also a black eye for the SEC.
Tuberville's roots are deep in SEC Country. [blah blah blah biography filler from Wikipedia.]
Tuberville recruited many of the players that were crucial to Auburn's national championship team just two seasons ago. [blah blah blah stats and personnel filler.]
Tuberville spent his best coaching years in the SEC and many thought that Tuberville would eventually end up back to the SEC at the first opportunity.
Now, despite his deep roots in the SEC, Tuberville has abandoned any hope of coaching in the SEC again and has taken the job at Cincinnati, a Big East School with no real football tradition.
And that's a bitter pill to swallow for the entire SEC.
Tuberville is a deep South guy, through and through, a coach who seemed sent straight out of central casting to lead a SEC program. [more filler filler filler]
By contrast, Cincinnati is a basketball school with a tiny football stadium, with substandard ancillary facilities and no football tradition. And Cincinnati isn't even the best or second best team in its own state. Ohio State obviously takes the blue ribbon. But Cincinnati has to complete with the likes of Kent State, Ohio and Toledo for second place.
That's why Saturday afternoon's news was so stunning. Everybody expected Tuberville to end up coaching in the SEC again. Every coach in the country wants to coach in the SEC. Six, going on seven, national championships in a row. [SEC RULZ filler filler filler gotta get the word count].
So this raises two obvious questions: Why would Tuberville go to a basketball school in the Big East? And if the Big East can lure away a someday-soon coach of the SEC -- who is also a former coach of the SEC -- in this situation, does the SEC have any prayer of actually remaining at the top of the CFB world?
Admittedly, none of the SEC schools with vacancies asked Tuberville to become their head coach. Tennessee didn't call, Auburn didn't call (for obvious reasons) and neither did Kentucky or Arkansas. But then again none of these teams are Alabama or Florida right now. They are all a step behind the top SEC powers.
Now, some unnamed, unknown, I-made-them-up people are speculating that maybe Tuberville was waiting for a top tier SEC school to call. But even if true, this is more than troubling for the SEC. Even the least of the SEC teams have wildly passionate fans, top-tier facilities and decades of tradition. Cincinnati, meanwhile, is in the Big East -- let that sink in for a moment. Recent events in realignment have brought into question the long-term existence of the Big East. Why would Tuberville spurn a potential job soon-to-be-offered from an SEC school for a job in the soon-to-be-defunct Big East? Further, all of the SEC jobs are destination jobs that, with the right coaching and recruits, could challenge for the SEC championship. But Cincinnati? Cincinnati won't ever be able to compete for the SEC Championship. Cincinnati will only ever be a middling team not even number one in its own state. Despite these undeniable facts, Tuberville took the Cincinnati job. Maybe this is a sign that almost any job in the Big East is better than a job in the SEC?
At any SEC job, Tuberville would have had much more access to blue-chip talent (although also far more competition for it). At Cincinnati, Tuberville will have to scrape and scratch for every 3* player. And, yet, Tuberville took the Big East job. This cannot be good for the SEC.
One would have thought that the biggest advantage the SEC offered was money. It has been reported that some jobs in the SEC (e.g., Tennessee) are offering upwards of $4 million per year. However, early reports indicate Tuberville is taking much less than $4 million a year.
The money angle is the most concerning for the SEC. Even though the conference ranks as the richest conference thanks to its TV contacts with ESPN and CBS, a Big East school was still about to lure a not-now-but-might-be SEC coach from the BigXII at much less than $4 million per year. Tuberville could have had a $4 million a year job -- if he had ever been offered -- and yet, he took a job in the Big East for substantially less than $4 million a year. One has to ask whether the luster has worn off the SEC when the riches of the SEC can't keep a Big XII coach from going to the Big East when a potential SEC head coaching job is possible? Moreover, is the SEC now a third-tier conference since, for Tuberville anyway, a might-be SEC job is less than an existing BXII which is less than the new Big East?
Along with this year's on-field results, score this as another loss for the SEC, a disappointing upset. The SEC went a disastrous 0-3 against the Big East in 2012. With Tuberville going to Cincinnati, make that 0-4. Earlier this week, Charlie Strong spurned Tennessee and remained the head football coach at Big East Louisville. Tuberville and Strong make the SEC 0-5 versus the Big East.
If Tommy Tuberville's decision to take the Cincinnati job means anything, it seems the SEC's allure is fading, a conference in decline.