Great Expectations

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2003

BIRMINGHAM &045;&045; Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville will never be mistaken for South Carolina’s Lou Holtz.

Holtz makes a habit of poor-mouthing his own team while talking up the competition, he’s known for it.

While Tuberville spoke highly of his competition in the SEC, he didn’t shy away from the fact that his Tigers are the team to beat this season as he addressed members of the press Thursday in Birmingham on the final day of SEC Media Days.

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Tuberville, who coached championship teams under Jimmy Johnson at Miami, has always been an underdog in his nine years as a head coach at Auburn and Ole Miss.

Now he must adjust to life as a favorite.

Some considered Tuberville to be on the hot seat at the start of last season, but now his team is picked to win the SEC.

It’s a huge jump for a program that has been trying to get back their former glory.

The Tigers destiny is in their hands.

Despite a brutally tough schedule, the Tigers are ranked sixth in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches’ Poll released yesterday.

Auburn will follow the same blueprints as recent national champions, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Tennessee.

With a stable of running backs and a tough defense led by the nation’s top corps of linebackers, the Tigers are going to play some smash-mouth football. More importantly they’ve got the depth to do it.

Some have questioned whether the Tigers are too deep at key positions.

Tuberville was questioned about whether he can keep his stable of running backs happy.

Having coached on a national championship team, Tuberville said he knows the breaks have to fall just right if the Tigers want to win at the Sugar Bowl this year.