LUBBOCK, Texas — Tommy Tuberville said Saturday he's bringing "new vigor" from his year away from coaching as he prepares to take the reins of the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The university announced in a release earlier in the day that it had hired the 55-year-old former Mississippi and Auburn coach.
"After 25 years of coaching you need to recharge your batteries," he said inside the lobby of his Lubbock hotel. "Last year being out was great for me. I'm fired up, looking forward to it."
Tuberville was set to be introduced on Sunday.
He replaces Mike Leach, who was fired last month amid allegations he mistreated a player who suffered a concussion.
Tuberville stepped down at Auburn in December 2008, ending a 10-year tenure that included a perfect season and a string of teams that contended for Southeastern Conference championships.
He will inherit a proven spread offense two years after abandoning his attempt at implementing one midseason in his final year at Auburn in 2008. In 2000 Leach brought a pass-happy offense to Texas Tech that put up gaudy numbers in his spread offense. All but two of his quarterbacks led the nation in passing in his 10 seasons.
Texas Tech's offense routinely sends numerous receivers downfield and consistently put up gaudy numbers in the past 10 seasons.
The time away from coaching last year led him to many schools, where he tried to stay tuned to how the game was evolving.
"I want to make sure I was in the days, times of what these kids want to play now in terms of offense and defense," he said. "I learned."
A person close to the Tuberville decision who was not authorized to discuss it told The Associated Press earlier Saturday that no contract has been signed but Tuberville and the university have "an agreement in principle in place."
Tuberville was 85-40 at Auburn, including a 13-0 season in 2004 when the Tigers finished No. 2, won the SEC title for the first time in 15 years and Tuberville won the AP Coach of the Year award.
Before going to Auburn, Tuberville coached at Mississippi and compiled a 25-20 record in four years after inheriting a program under NCAA scholarship sanctions. He also spent a year as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M when the Aggies finished 10-0-1 and were among the nation's defensive leaders.
"This is my third time...and starting a program over with new vigor," he said.
Asked if it was the Red Raiders offense or defense that drew him to West Texas, he said it was neither.
"You know, I'm a salesman, and you have to have a great product to sell," he said. "And obviously Texas Tech is a great place, got a great tradition."
Last week, Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Tuberville told him he would keep the Red Raiders' aerial offense in place and wanted to maintain continuity in the program, which hasn't had a losing season since 1992.
Gerald Myers declined to comment at the hotel.
Tuberville told the newspaper he would change some things defensively, drawing on success he had at Auburn.
He will be officially introduced as the new coach at 2 p.m. Sunday at the school's basketball arena by Myers and Guy Bailey, Texas Tech's president.
The university fired Leach, the school's winningest coach with 84 wins, with cause on Dec. 30, two days after it suspended him while the school investigated claims of mistreatment of Adam James – son of former NFL player and ESPN analyst Craig James.
Leach has denied he mistreated the sophomore receiver and his attorneys have filed claims in state district court, alleging university officials libeled and slandered him to intentionally harm his reputation.