Tuberville voices ardent support for Croom

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, September 13, 2007

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville might be one of the most ardent supporters of Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom, even though they’re division rivals.

In Tuberville’s view, Croom’s job security shouldn’t be in question whatever his win-loss record at the Southeastern Conference school.

“If Sylvester Croom is on the hot seat then we need to look around and check ourselves,” Tuberville said Tuesday. “Here’s a guy that came in and took over a program that was dismantled, out of control, that needed some leadership in their football program, and to bring some dignity and character back to it. He has definitely done that.”

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Croom inherited a program that was in the midst of an NCAA investigation for recruiting violations under coach Jackie Sherrill, Tuberville’s rival when he was coaching at Mississippi.

The Bulldogs, who visit Auburn on Saturday, were placed on four years of probation, banned from the postseason and stripped of eight scholarships. Tuberville also inherited a program burdened by NCAA sanctions when he went to Ole Miss.

Croom is 10-26 in his fourth season, but Tuberville said he took over a major rebuilding job and deserves far more patience than fans and administrations typically are willing to give.

“It’s going to take him a while longer than three or four years,” said Tuberville, who is friends with Croom. “When you take over a program that was in the shape that one was in when he took it over, I’m sure he’s got a 10-year plan in.

“A lot of people, sometimes, don’t wait for 10 years. That’s their fault. When you take over a program like that you need opportunities to get that thing intact. He’s done a great job.”

Tuberville also praised Croom for how he is going about trying to turn around the Mississippi State program.

“He didn’t come in the first year and skirt the rules and try to throw a team together to win,” he said. “He’s looking out for those young guys. He’s doing it the right way.”