SEC Notebook: Vandy coach glad to open door to Eastern

July 28, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

HOOVER, Ala. - Because he coached at Furman, Bobby Johnson has a soft spot in his heart for successful college football programs at the Division I-AA level that want to schedule a major conference opponent.

That's partially why Johnson, who is starting his third season as Vanderbilt's head coach, was not adverse to adding Eastern Kentucky University to his schedule this season. The Colonels, the preseason favorite to win the Ohio Valley Conference, will visit Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 23.

"I know it's important to those programs to have this kind of opportunity," Johnson said Tuesday during the Southeastern Conference media days. "Certainly they have an outstanding program with great tradition. I also know they expect to have a good team this year.

"But it's still a good game. We feel like they will bring some fans to the game because it's not that far from Nashville. There is some semi-local interest in the game. But I have nothing but respect for Eastern Kentucky football and expect it will be a good game."


Johnson says he does not know Eastern head coach Danny Hope, a former Louisville assistant. However, he knows how Hope will inspire his team for this opportunity to beat a SEC team.

"I'm sure they are going to feel like they have a great chance to beat us," Johnson said. "That will fire their guys up. I've been in that situation before, so I am going to make sure our guys know all about what the game will mean to Eastern Kentucky."

Johnson said it will probably be difficult to schedule Eastern again in the near future because SEC schedules are set years in advance.

"There is still talk about adding a 12th game each year. That might open something up. If not, we are pretty set on our schedule. But whenever I have the chance, I want to give a team like Eastern the chance to play us because I still remember what it was like to be at that level and wanting that opportunity," Johnson said.

No clue: Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville admitted Tuesday he had "no clue" that Auburn officials were meeting with Louisville coach Bobby Petrino late last season about taking Tuberville's job.

"I had a lot of mixed feelings," Tuberville said. "I was disappointed with how it was handled. I had no clue this was even going on. There was not a lot we could have done to stop it."

Petrino, Tuberville's offensive coordinator at Auburn in 2002, admitted he made a mistake listening to Auburn's offer after the offer became public knowledge. Tuberville just hopes everyone learned valuable lessons from the ordeal.

"We learned that's not what Auburn university is about. We got a lot of bad media attention nationwide, but it made me understand more about my job and hopefully everyone involved learn the right way to do things," said Tuberville, who refused to criticize Petrino.

Auburn now has a new president, one Tuberville obviously likes.

"We've got a leader now who will make the best decisions for Auburn," Tuberville said.

Quotable: Two of the best quotes from Tuesday's opening Media Days sessions:

Bobby Johnson, Vanderbilt coach, on being the only coach from Tennessee to attend after Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer backed out Monday because of possible litigation: "The border was open between Tennessee and Alabama. Nobody stopped me. It's great to be here. So far I've not been served with any subpoenas."

Junior Rosegreen, Auburn safety, on hopes for a better 2004 season after losing five games in 2003 when Auburn went into the season ranked No. 1: "It doesn't matter how many great players you have, it matters if you have a great team. I would rather have a great team than just a lot of great players. It was good we had a lot of great players last year, but now it's time to have a great year."

Central Kentucky News Articles