Tommy Tuberville was hired Saturday as Cincinnati's next head football coach, leaving Texas Tech after three years in a development that caught Tech officials by surprise.
Tuberville replaces Butch Jones, who accepted the head coaching position at Tennessee on Friday.
The move is one Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt was not made aware of until approximately 9:15 a.m. Saturday, when he received a call from Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock.
"I did not return the phone call," Hocutt said during an afternoon news conference. "And then at 10:30 this morning received a call from coach Tuberville, had the chance to visit with him, and he notified me at that time of his resignation and his intention
to accept the job at Cincinnati."
A 6-1 start to the 2012 season helped generate rumors involving Tuberville and a number of possible SEC openings, particularly Arkansas.
Tuberville's phone call was the first notice Hocutt had received of Tuberville engaging any openings, let alone Cincinnati.
"The first indication I got was at 10:32 this morning when he called me," Hocutt said. "Tommy and I have talked a number of times since the conclusion of the Baylor game this year, and as recently as yesterday he looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment
and dedication to Texas Tech football and leading this football program forward."
Tuberville compiled a 20-17 record in his three seasons in Lubbock, leading the Red Raiders to two bowl games. The 58-year-old coach put together a 9-17 mark in Big 12 Conference play, and last year's 5-7 record resulted in the program's first losing
season since 1992. Tuberville had previously coached at Mississippi and Auburn.
Tuberville's buyout is reportedly worth $900,000 with three years left on his contract. Tuberville was officially introduced as Cincinnati's next coach at 5:30 p.m. CDT in Fifth Third Arena on the university's campus.
Hocutt did not confirm any potential candidates to replace Tuberville, but did not lack confidence in finding the right hire.
"It's important that our next head football coach embraces the Texas Tech values that are so important to each and every one of us," Hocutt said. "And I want to assure our fans that there's no shortage of candidates."
Collectively, the team was informed ofthe news at 3 p.m., although several Tech players wasted no time taking to Twitter to voice their thoughts about their coach's departure earlier in the day.
"Never felt more anger in my life," sophomore tight end Jace Amaro tweeted. "I vow, I swear, I will do anything I can next year, and Texas Tech will win the Big (12) championship."
As for the immediate future, the Red Raiders now are without a head coach as they prepare for their meeting with Minnesota at the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Dec. 28 in Houston.
As of Saturday, an interim head coach had not been identified by Hocutt.
"Regardless of the situation, we still have a bowl game to win," Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege tweeted. "We have great leadership to push this team forward.
“It's about us right now and once we WIN this bowl game everything else will take care of itself."
By Jose Rodriguez — Special to the Star-Telegram