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Tuberville blasts rumors about health, job status

AUBURN, Ala. | Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is healthy, is not quitting his job and isn't tired of coaching.

Rumors to the contrary have apparently circulated enough on the Internet to prompt Tuberville to address them in the opening comments of Monday's news conference.

"I just wanted to let you know that I've been here 10 years, I plan on being here 10 more and I'm looking forward to it," Tuberville said. "And all these rumors get started, and I'm 10 years an Auburn man and I'm 10 years more of an Auburn man than most, because I've put my heart and soul in this thing and we ain't gonna stop now.

"We're going to keep working and striving to get better because we do have a good football team. We're not playing well right now and this is a transition year, but we're going to get better."

The preseason Southeastern Conference Western Division favorites have gotten off to a 4-3 start and dropped three of their last four games - by a combined nine points - with a struggling offense. Tuberville also fired first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin three days before last weekend's loss to heavy underdog Arkansas.

Tuberville said he had received calls and e-mails during Auburn's open week inquiring about his health, but said he has not had the rumored stroke and had a full physical three months ago. Tuberville hasn't lost his sense of humor about the situation.

"I appreciate the sympathy cards for my illnesses and all that, but please don't send any flowers," Tuberville said. "Save your money until Christmas because it looks like the way the economy is, we're all going to need it. So that's a paid political announcement by Tommy Tuberville, by the way."

Tuberville said he and Auburn officials did not negotiate a contract settlement during the open date and he isn't quitting.

"I get call after call with people asking, 'Are you going to quit?' I'm not a quitter," he said. "I don't know where stuff like that gets started, but it's just part of it. But I felt after all that that the rumors are getting out of hand. I just wanted to get things straight."

Tuberville said athletic director Jay Jacobs "has been very supportive" and he sits down with President Jay Gogue after the season.

"I'm a football coach and everything else that goes along with it," he said. "I know more about this program than most people combined with what I have put into it in the last 10 years."

Tuberville signed a two-year contract extension last December that will pay him $2.8 million this season and increase $200,000 annually until it reaches $3.8 million in 2013, the final year.

The contract includes a buyout that will be at $6 million in 2008, $5 million in 2009 and $4 million after that if Tuberville leaves for another job or is fired.

Among the other rumors Tuberville wanted to address:

-That he's tired of coaching. "I feel as good right now as I ever have about coaching football, and I still have that drive."

-That he doesn't enjoy recruiting. "Well, I went 2,500 miles last Thursday and Friday. And I covered a lot of high schools and talked to a lot of coaches and I love every minute of it, and our recruiting is going great."

Only Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer has had a longer tenure at his current school than Tuberville, who is in his 10th season at Auburn. He has led the Tigers to a 13-0 season in 2004 and 79 wins since 2000 - 13th best in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"It's going to get better," Tuberville said. "All the detractors from outside that keep throwing stones at us, that's fine. I love it."