One more post on l'affaire Muschamp:
First, I am satisfied at this point that "Story Two" as outlined in this post is essentially Muschamp's side of his brief job search, as related by the coach to his own friends. I'm sorry to contradict Phillip Marshall, whose work I hold in the highest regard, but from talking to people inside and outside of the AU athletic department, I now believe the portion of Story Two concerning bowl tickets is essentially accurate. Whether any conflict or misunderstanding or what have you regarding those tickets did or should have contributed to Muschamp's decision is beyond my pay grade (which, considering I don't get paid for this, isn't saying very much).
One thing that is clear to me is that almost nobody has come out of this mess looking good, with the sole and somewhat ironic exception of Tommy Tuberville. If Muschamp really let his emotions get away from him over words he didn't like in his contract and/or a few bowl tickets badly enough to yank up his family and move halfway across the country to take a pay cut, quite frankly he needs to grow up. If, conversely, he simply thought Texas presented a better opportunity and he's using the contract-and-tickets story to semi-privately justify himself, he also needs to grow up. Neither option puts him in a good light, and although I think the guy is a superb young football coach, everybody involved is probably better off with him working somewhere else after all of this.
Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs also moves on with a considerable black eye. At the very least, Jacobs did not shine in displaying managerial skills over the past few days. Even if you accept Jacobs' version of events--namely that Muschamp was upset over language that had been in his contract for over a year--that doesn't excuse Jacobs' failure to defuse the situation when it occurred. If you are the CEO of a multi-million-dollar business who values a key employee enough to make him the highest-paid individual in his job in your market, you damn well ought to do a better job of managing that individual to keep him from leaving for a competitor, albeit a distant one.
Auburn has now lost three very highly-regarded coaches under Jacobs' watch, and while I don't see how he could bear any responsibility for Gene Chizik's departure in early 2005, the same can't be said for either Muschamp or, worse, David Marsh, an alumnus and the most successful college coach in the history of the state of Alabama. Jacobs came into his current job with a widely-held perception that he got it based on who he knew rather than what he had done to earn it. Three years in, he's done little to change that perception.
As noted earlier, about the only person at Auburn who's come out looking better for the experience is Tuberville, who by most accounts put his foot down and told Muschamp to, er, spit or step away from the spittoon after his now-ex-assistant returned to Auburn on Friday, and who appears poised to name a replacement within the next few days. I've heard from a number of observers that Tuberville was not a bit happy to find himself caught in the middle of one of his own agent's infamous coaching shuffles; one can only hope that the head coach will remember how that feels the next time Jimmy Sexton starts floating Tuberville's own name for other jobs--again.