UK Football

Ex-UK aide star of coordinators

HOOVER, Ala. — Tony Franklin won't throw or catch a pass or score even one measly touchdown.

The new Auburn offensive coordinator still has attracted as much pre-season attention as any of the team's players, even quarterback contenders Kodi Burns and Chris Todd.

That's because Franklin, an assistant and coordinator in a four-year stint under Hal Mumme at Kentucky, brings the spread offense to a team known for churning out NFL-caliber running backs and maintaining a run-first mentality.

”It's totally different for me, for Auburn and even for the SEC,“ Tigers Coach Tommy Tuberville said Friday at Southeastern Conference Media Days.

For that reason, Franklin might have been the most intriguing coordinator hiring at an SEC school. He is hardly alone, though, even at Auburn. Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads is also new.

There will be 11 new guys running offenses and defenses in the SEC this season, providing a different look for a league with only two new head coaches.

Both those coaches, Mississippi's Houston Nutt and Arkansas' Bobby Petrino, hired new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

Other hires were necessitated by assistants landing head coaching jobs. LSU's Doug Mallory and Bradley Peveto took over as co-defensive coordinators after Bo Pelini took the head coaching job at Nebraska.

Dave Clawson replaced new Duke coach David Cutcliffe at Tennessee, the first offensive coordinator hired from outside the program since Walt Harris held the post from 1983-88.

”This is my third offensive coordinator,“ Volunteers running back Arian Foster said. ”I'm excited. It's always fun to play under somebody different.“

Like LSU, South Carolina turned to two defensive coordinators, albeit in vastly different fashion. Steve Spurrier hired Ellis Johnson only hours after recent hire Brian VanGorder told the coach he was off to join new Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith's staff.

It's an important hire for the offensive-minded Spurrier, whose defense was stingy against the pass but ranked last in the league against the run.

Alabama and Mississippi State changed offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.

Auburn wouldn't mind just maintaining the status quo under Rhoads, though Tuberville wants to cut down on big plays. The Tigers ranked sixth in total and scoring defense.

The most notable difference on the team will be the speed with which Franklin's no-huddle offense operates. It's what Franklin said separates his system from the other spread offenses proliferating around college football these days.

”What we do that's uniquely different is the tempo,“ he said. ”We play extremely fast. There's a lot of people that do no-huddle, but most people that do no-huddle are not fast no-huddle.“

Auburn got a test run with the offense in a 23-20 overtime win over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

That was enough to sell center Jason Bosley, who was a little uncertain about the change. ”After the bowl practice and the bowl, I became a believer that we can be successful,“ Bosley said.