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The good, the bad and the unemployed

It’s a terrible time to be a college football coach. The economy is in a downturn, you have a war to run and Republicans still can’t bear to acknowledge the death grip Democrats are taking on the Senate. Oh wait, that’s another high-profile, high stress job.

However, it is my theory (and granted, this is coming from a guy that dropped his college economics class) that the hard times in America make the jobs of coaches that much tougher.

Think about it. If John Q. Citizen is losing his retirement from an already low-paying job, the only thing he wants to do is get some brews and watch his team. Well, he can only afford the cheapo suds, and his team hasn’t won a game in three weeks. The solution? Time for the coach to go.

Today on “The List,” we’ll explore the plight of coaches walking toward the guillotine and those whose blood is fresh on the blade.

Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee — He was the third-winningest active coach behind Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden — both of which have also fallen on hard times in recent years. But of the three, only Fulmer is unemployed. The difference? Nobody wants to fire an old guy. There, I said it. Somebody had to.

Tyrone Willingham, Washington — It could be worse. He could be the coach at Notre Dame … Waiting for laughter from understated humor implied in joke … No laughter … Back to the drawing board.

Tommy Bowden, Clemson — It could be worse. He could be the coach at … Nevermind.

Sylvester Croom, Miss. State — He had to work a miracle to turn that program around, and everyone on one half of the state let him know it. At 3-6, Coach Sly may not be around next year. With Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss remaining on the schedule, the exit could be ugly.

Tommy Tuberville — Per an observation from another reporter in our newsroom (who happens to be an Alabama fan), Tuberville wouldn’t be catching all this heat if the Tide wasn’t lighting the world on fire. Wow, the timing of that Nick Saban guy, huh?

I can’t blame Tuberville for losing as many coaches as he has. How you gonna fault a guy for developing assistants so good that other schools want to pay them more to do the same thing? Can’t do it. If anything, blame the coach for firing Tony Franklin before he had a chance to recruit athletes suited for the spread offense. Blame him for letting his players’ morale go down the toilet.

Tuberville will probably be back in Auburn for the 2009 season. And it better be a good season.