AUBURN, ALABAMA - Auburn University President William Walker said Tuesday night he has visited with Louisville coach Bobby Petrino regarding the Tigers' coaching job. He said he has made no decision on whether to retain or fire Tommy Tuberville.
Auburn completed a disappointing 7-5 regular season with last Saturday's 28-23 victory over Alabama. Speculation about Tuberville's job began after back-to-back losses to Mississippi and Georgia.
``Coach Petrino has been mentioned as a candidate for the job should it become available,'' Walker said in a statement Tuesday night. ``I have made no decision and am considering my options. This visit was a part of that process.''
Petrino, who initially said he hadn't been contacted by Auburn officials, said late Tuesday night that he will stay at Louisville. He apologized to Tuberville for ``meeting with those people,'' the Montgomery Advertiser reported in a story Wednesday.
``I'm a young coach,'' the Advertiser quoted Petrino as saying. ``I made a mistake.''
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said he was ``very disappointed'' that Auburn officials arranged the meeting with Petrino without requesting Louisville's permission.
``I can deal with Bobby Petrino on my own campus. But the national perception of how a university leader would come into my own backyard, behind my back, is highly disturbing,'' Jurich said in the Advertiser story.
``Auburn University is damn lucky to have a coach like Tommy Tuberville, and they're damn lucky if he would even think about coaching that program again.''
Petrino was Auburn's offensive coordinator last season, leaving to take the Louisville job.
Walker said he and athletics director David Housel flew to Louisville last Thursday night for a meeting with Petrino. They were accompanied by Earlon McWhorter, president pro tem of the board of trustees, and trustee Byron Franklin, a former Auburn and NFL receiver.
Walker said the meeting was arranged by a search firm assisting in his decision-making process. The Advertiser reported the trip was made on a 22-seat luxury jet registered to Colonial Bank, where Auburn trustee Bobby Lowder is chairman.
``I am continuing to evaluate the football program, my goals for that program and options that may be available to me and Auburn University,'' Walker said.
He and Housel have indicated they plan to meet with Tuberville early next week. The university would have to pay the coach $4 million under a five-year contract he signed in February.
Petrino signed a five-year deal with a base salary of $450,000, plus up to $250,000 in incentives. He has led the Cardinals to an 8-3 record entering their regular-season finale Friday at Cincinnati.
Petrino came to Auburn from the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he was the quarterbacks coach from 1999-2001.
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