Franklin happy Todd won QB job at Auburn


Our phone conversation took place in the early hours of Friday morning, but Tony Franklin could barely contain his happiness for Chris Todd, who was named the starting quarterback at Auburn on Thursday.

“There are very few people who really know how much that kid went through last year,” said Franklin, the former offensive coordinator at Auburn who now holds the same job at Middle Tennessee State. “We talked last night and I told him I was more proud of him than any other football player I’ve coached. A lot of people in his situation would have quit and moved on.”

It was one of the most difficult periods in Auburn football history. Head coach Tommy Tuberville, trying to juice up his offense and jump start recruiting, hired Franklin, a free-spirited guy who believed in the throwing version of the spread offense.

 Franklin had known Todd as a high school player and felt he was perfect to run the new offense. Todd started at Texas Tech, went to junior college, and eventually followed Franklin to Auburn.

But there were a couple of problems.

No. 1:  Nobody admitted how bad it was, but Todd had a dead arm. He tried to fix it with rest but it didn’t work. So Todd could never get the velocity on his throws that were necessary to run Franklin’s offense the way it is intended.

No. 2: Franklin’s personality and that of the rest of the offensive staff at Auburn, who had been with Tuberville a long time, simply did not mix. It was too much of a culture change. After nothing less than a staff revolt, head coach Tommy Tuberville resolved the conflict by letting Franklin go at midseason. At the end of the 2008 season Tuberville was gone as well.

Todd had won the quarterback job but when the offense struggled, the fans turned on him and Franklin. And when Franklin was gone, Todd immediately lost the job and Kodi Burns became the starter. It looked like Todd’s career at Auburn was over.

Todd decided to stay at Auburn when it hired a new head coach in Gene Chizik, who brought in Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator. Todd also got surgery in December to fix his weakened arm. He didn’t throw in the spring but is throwing well enough now to be named the starter.  And this is telling: When Todd was named the starter yesterday his main competitor, Burns, was moved to receiver, where there is a need for more athleticism.

“I’m excited about the opportunity here,” Todd told the Birmingham News yesterday. “I have the utmost respect for the other quarterbacks. They made me better every single day.”

“Chris has already gotten his undergraduate degree so he could have gone on with his life,” said Franklin. “But he decided he wanted to stay and compete. And when you look at Gus’s offense, Chris looks like the perfect fit.”

Franklin’s offense is a pass-first, run-second spread that focuses on getting fast athletes in space against slower athletes. Malzahn also spreads the field but does it to first create running lanes.  Tulsa, where Malzahn has resided the past two seasons, led the nation in total offense in 2008 with 569.81 yards per game. If that total 268.0 was rushing and 301.86 was passing.

“I like the offensive staff that Auburn has put together and they are going to have a good year if they stay patient with Chris,” said Franklin.

Ah, patience. Franklin learned the hard way that the commodity is in very short supply in the SEC. But, like Todd, Franklin said he is a better coach having gone through the tough experience.

“What  Chris went through at Auburn prepared him to face the rest of his life,” said Franklin. “It ain’t fun when you’re going through it. But it does make you stronger.”

 Please follow me on Twitter:

70 comments Add your comment

Technically speaking

August 14th, 2009
8:58 am

I bet he is going to be a doozie.

Technically speaking

August 14th, 2009
8:59 am

Who was the worst Off. Coordinator last year, Clawson at Tenn. or Franklin at Auburn?Both cost their head coach their job.

Mr. Papagiorgio

August 14th, 2009
9:08 am

It’ll be interesting to see how strong his arm is after surgery….didn’t know surgery could strengthen your arm….can I get some of that surgery please?

UGA is # 171...

August 14th, 2009
9:20 am

on Forbes list of best colleges in America – GT is # 501 – hahahahahahaha

saint simons

August 14th, 2009
9:24 am

i need to get a life

Got 12?

August 14th, 2009
9:25 am

I’m not sure what’s so tragic (or interesting) about Todd being benched then having surgery.

Similar to yesterday’s piece, a better story would have been Ok St QB Zac Robinson. He has missed several practices due to a hamstring pull. Will he be healthy for the opener against UGA?

Sugar Hill Dawg

August 14th, 2009
9:36 am

I was at every Auburn home game last fall (my son’s in the Auburn University Marching Band) – I’ve never seen a crowd turn against someone like they turned against Chris Todd last year. (I graduated from UGA in 1975, so I’ve seen many a QB turn into Public Enemy # 1 ‘tween the Hedghes!) I hope for his sake he shakes that off and displays the promise a Texas Tech QB has to have. (He must have something if Mike Leach brought him to Lubbock.) I’m pulling for him and the Tigers (except, of course, for their game in Athens) to get it done this year. 11-1 sounds pretty good to me!


August 14th, 2009
9:43 am

uga is #171?….obsess much about GT? nobody had even mentioned Tech until your stupid ass post….this blog is/was about AU

Kid Ray

August 14th, 2009
9:47 am

I do not see this kid as the answer…Sorry Tigers. He is merely an adequate QB, or perhaps even less than that. I root for Aub. but I am not optimistic abour the Gene Chizik Error, oops Era.

Kevin Greene

August 14th, 2009
9:51 am

“Who was the worst Off. Coordinator last year, Clawson at Tenn. or Franklin at Auburn?Both cost their head coach their job.”

In my opinion Franklin didn’t cost Tubs his job, As the head coach, he created the cutural situation. He shouldn’t have brought in a OC/New System if the other coaches on staff didn’t buy into it. Tubs was good for Auburn and a good coach, but his achillies heel was he was too loyal.

War Eagle!

Auburn News – 8/14/09 |

August 14th, 2009
9:53 am

[...] be a divided team.”  Those comments meant a lot to Todd.Former Tiger offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is happy for Todd.  “There are very few people who really know how much that kid went through last [...]

Kiffin's A Bozo

August 14th, 2009
9:56 am

Auburn will exceed Tennessee. I hope they surprise a few people out there who are so eager to criticize. Guess we’ll all see…


August 14th, 2009
10:01 am

Tubs messed up his own job last year by handling his assistants poorly the years before that. That’s why Richt is doing what he is doing and giving WM the chance to redeem himself.


August 14th, 2009
10:03 am

Auburn has always had big, talented lines on both sides…..they will struggle to pass 7 or 8 wins until they correct that. Ask Mark Richt. The lines are everything in the SEC.

Bama Aaron

August 14th, 2009
10:10 am

Just because he seems like a good kid you hope he does well. But I don’t think it boads well if he’s the best they’ve got. And they move their only proven #2 to WR. That coupled with the fact that AU doesn’t have much of a line to block for him.
How patient will the fans be down there because this looks to be a long season for the Tigers?

Tide Rising

August 14th, 2009
10:21 am

Ya kinda want to pull for the kid, especially in light of him getting booed last season. He probably felt pretty alone at Auburn once his coach who brought him there got fired. Good for him that he stuck it out, manned up, and now he’s the starter again. I’ll be pulling for him except against the Tide of course.

If his arm strength is back to normal then it will be interesting to see if Auburn can make some noise this year. I think they’re a little thin in several areas and not as stout and physical in their line play as they normally are. Being down to only 71 scholarship players while everyone else is fielding 83-85 doesn’t help either. In any event good luck to him and Auburn.


August 14th, 2009
10:43 am

Hopefully he got prescribed some HGH too. Seriously!


August 14th, 2009
10:53 am

Todd’s a Texas Tech guy who Franklin felt was perfect for his “Air raid” offense that just beat out Caudle and Rollison to start in Gus Malzahn’s offense. The guy had a bum shoulder last season that’s good to go now. I dont think he’s Heisman bound, but I certainly do think he’ll do just fine. Even if he’s just sufficient, that’s enough in some cases(can u say JPWilson?) Burns couldnt seperate himself in the spring, which was telling enough for me then; he simply doesnt have the goods at qb in the SEC. The O-line is plenty good as well….just aint no depth to it!


August 14th, 2009
10:54 am

it’s going to be a long season on the Plains. Auburn’s never been able to recruit enough good receivers to run a spread offense, and, if the O-line does suck …. look for more 3-2 games, a la last year’s Starkeville barn burner.


August 14th, 2009
10:55 am

EB knows little of AU’s receiver corp….


August 14th, 2009
11:08 am

tubs too loyal? how many OC’s did he go through?
The problem at Auburn in general is the entire environment around the Athletic Department, they have an idiot for and AD, and they let that donor Bobby run that school.


August 14th, 2009
11:11 am

I always thought Tubberville was over rated as a coach. He was a good coah, but by no means a “great” coach. Sure he beat a few (very few) highly ranked teams. But he lost far more games to teams that he shouldn’t have lost to.


August 14th, 2009
11:19 am

Kodi Burns has the speed…

Gen Neyland

August 14th, 2009
11:25 am

Kevin Greene : By virture of the fact Auburn beat Tennessee in 2008, we had the worst OC…

Kiffin’s A Bozo : Love your outlook. Many could take your post with a tag reading Chizik’s A Bozo and say, ‘Tennessee will exceed Auburn..’

Voice of Reason

August 14th, 2009
11:42 am

JB- i’m confused. You say that AU has always had “big, talented lines on both sides” and then say that they will not win a lot of games until they correct that? Are you saying that big talented lines are a bad thing?? What??!


August 14th, 2009
11:57 am

Richt kept Martinez on this year for one reason- a built in fall guy and focus for the fans hostility if the season takes a crap


August 14th, 2009
12:00 pm

It’s pretty obvious that Tubb’s had a core of coaches that really were the defacto coordinators. An Offensive Coordinator at Auburn begins his career there as “dead man walking” under Tubberville. It finally caught with them last year and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put………….back together again.

The shelf is not bare at Auburn, if the QB works out and they can find a few recievers maybe……………………who knows

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

August 14th, 2009
12:01 pm

Aub and Tn will surprise people this year. Both will be defensively good which will keep them in most games. And neither is going to be as bad on offense as they were last year. The SEC is going to be very tough……as usual

Atlanta Gator

August 14th, 2009
12:10 pm

What’s the word on this kid? Does he have the potential or not?

Island Dawg

August 14th, 2009
12:22 pm

Lowder and company are going to rue the day they fired Tubs as much as the Vol Nation will regret firing Fulmer. I am still scratching my head over those move, simply asinine. Always wish Auburn the best until mid-November. Then root for them again 2 weekends later.

Forrest Gump

August 14th, 2009
12:35 pm

Fortunately for Auburn, Bob Lowder’s bank went broke, and he no longer runs the university. It will take a few years for the school to recover from Lowder’s tyranny. Unfortunately, Georgia still has Michael Adams and Sonny the Stooge.

Auburn John

August 14th, 2009
12:47 pm

He was too loyal to his lower assistants. Once he fired Noel Mazzone and John Lovett, he never was committed to a coordinator; but the majority of his assistants came over with him from Ole Miss. (I think only Joe Whitt was a AU-holdover).

He probably should have shaken up his position coaches at some point, notably the receivers coach.


August 14th, 2009
12:53 pm

Good Luck TODD. Beat BAMA.

Got 12?

August 14th, 2009
1:01 pm

Tubbs appeared to be tired of coaching. Franklin said he was hired by Tubbs without an interview. Per Franklin, an assistant called him out of the blue and talked to him about the job. A few days later, Tubbs called and offered him the position.

Add to that the fact that Tubbs was vacationing while other coaches were out recruiting and it’s easy to see that he tired of coaching at Auburn. But, if he quit, he would not have gotten paid.


August 14th, 2009
1:04 pm

I’ll admit I was one of the first to throw Chris Todd under the bus last year. Coming in he was highly regarded and supposedly had the physical tools to be an SEC caliber QB. He just didn’t have the arm strength last year and I left him for dead. However, I never knew the full extent of his injury. I personally went through a similar sitation and my shoulder is light years better after surgery. I’m surprised he has recovered so quickly because that operation is really tough to recover from. If he has fully recovered and goes on to play well this season, it will be a great story.


August 14th, 2009
1:10 pm

I think the bammers are scared to death that Auburn might have a good season. War Eagle!!

Got 12?

August 14th, 2009
1:28 pm


You are correct. We, Bammers, are quite scared. Probably just as scared as you guys were back when Shula was coaching during our probation years. The shoes (poor coaching and fewer than 85 scholarship players) appear to be on other feet. Yes, war eagle in deed.


August 14th, 2009
1:33 pm

Whatever happened to Roswell Ed?

Gen Neyland

August 14th, 2009
1:39 pm

Spike : Roswell Ed will probably make an appearance at some point unless the ajc blocked him because he kept plugging his own blog…THE real question is whatever happened to good ol’ #39, BuLLdawg..?


August 14th, 2009
1:52 pm

No doubt, Clawson was worse.


August 14th, 2009
1:55 pm

Good questions, General. Maybe they are both one in the same person. Ole Roswell always wanted to know if Auburn was still in the league. He has been missing for a while, just after UGA beat AU again and Tubbs got run off. Coincidence?

Red Clay Hound

August 14th, 2009
2:04 pm

I have a lot of respect for Auburn. I have seen them beat Georgia and other SEC schools when they were “not suppose to be any good”. This year on paper, I agree they should have a down year. That is what concerns me. Everyone in the conference doesn’t give them a chance. I’m just saying….


August 14th, 2009
2:58 pm

Auburn doesn’t have the talent and I expect them to 5-7 or 6-6 at best this year and slightly better next year. They will have to recruit better against Saban if they want to have a realistic chance of being at the of level of Fl, UGA, Bama and LSU.

Geaux Tigers


August 14th, 2009
3:01 pm

It is sad that fans make it personal by ridiculing and booing some players. We are no better as I experienced it first hand last year with Jarrett Lee.

These are just kids and I am sure these guys want to play well too.

Geaux Tigers


August 14th, 2009
3:15 pm

Kodi will play the Race Card as soon as possible. The back stabbing will start in earnest.

Got 12?

August 14th, 2009
4:24 pm


You are dead on about the importance of recruiting against Saban for Auburn. Unfortunately for Chizik, it’s not going very well right now. The top running back prospect in the state just committed to Bama. He, Corey Grant, is from Opelika which is just outside of Auburn.

It will take a couple of years for Chizik to right the ship and become competitive.

Tide Rising

August 14th, 2009
4:33 pm

Got 12,

I think you’re right about Tubbs. I kind of noticed the same thing. The year Saban got to Bama it seemed like Tubbs just kind of started to slack off. He just wasn’t working as hard as Saban and allowed Saban to just massacre him on the all important recruiting trail. Even though I consider Tubbs to be either as good or better a coach as Saban it just seemed like Tubbs gave up and decided to live on his laurels until he either got fired or was offered the job at another big time program. He just seemed tired of it.


I’ld have to agree with you again on the recruiting and the booing. On the recruiting front Tubbs all but gave up his last 2 years and while there is still talent at Auburn they don’t have the premier younger recruits and certainly not the depth that UGA, UF, LSU, Bama all now have. The cupboard behind the top 22 got bare in a hurry.

I suspect that Auburn people can’t be happy that right now the team only has 71 scholarship players while everyone else is fielding 83-85 scholarship players in their fall camps. No excuse for that and it goes directly back to Tubbs.

Tide Rising

August 14th, 2009
4:39 pm


I looked at Auburn’s recruiting a few weeks ago. Their caliber of recruits is considerably lacking when compared to the other big boys. LSU, UF, UGA, and Bama all have top 7 classes and Auburn is somewhere around 30. Chizik is not bringing in the horses. As much as people have been making fun of Kiffin I’ll say this. At least Kiffin is getting some really big names here and there, especially in the wr recruiting.

Gen Neyland

August 14th, 2009
4:50 pm

Rumor out of Knoxville is TB will be doing studio work with Phil Fulmer…Rumor or not..? Also, pretty much it’s a sure bet that Coach Fulmer is now on the CBS payroll. They say his first TV time will be 19SEP. Coincidence..?


August 14th, 2009
4:55 pm

Todd will do well. My concern is how his arm will hold up over the course of the season. The OL will surprise people and it should not. The jrs on the line were highly recruited and excellent as freshman. They have bulked back up from last year and will do very well. Depth is a concern. As far as recruiting goes, the jury is still out. Many highly rated recruits, including the top 3 running backs have AU high on their list. Chizik must close! The comments that Tubs won few against top teams is just bull. His record against top 10 teams over the past 8 years is as good as anyones except Carroll at USC. Tubs just lost the drive and it showed in recruiting the past two years. War Eagle and Go Dawgs!! Thats right, I like em both………….