AUBURN, Ala. (AP) – A laptop containing Auburn’s offensive gameplan was stolen out of the team hotel by “a drifter,” not as a conspiracy to help South Carolina out, coach Tommy Tuberville said.

The laptop was lifted from the offensive meeting room while players and coaches stood around following dinner on the eve of the Tigers’ 24-17 victory Thursday night in Columbia, S.C. The thief was caught on video nabbing the expensive computer.

, which Tuberville valued at $15,000.

“We saw who did it, and it takes a lot of nerve to walk in there with 300-pounders standing around it and pick it up and put it in your pants and walk out the door,” Tuberville said.

An unscrupulous Gamecocks fan looking to give his team an edge? Nah, just a guy looking to make a few bucks, the coach said.

“The police identified him as looking like somebody that they see around the mall all the time,” Tuberville said. “It had nothing to do whatsoever with South Carolina or any of that. We’re getting calls about that. It didn’t have anything to do with the game, but somebody out there’s got a nice $15,000 computer that doesn’t know how to get into it.”

Rumors had circulated on the Internet about the so-called “plot”. Some of that might have been fueled by the fact that a game Auburn was expected to win by a couple of touchdowns went down to the final play, when Syvelle Newton’s fourth-down pass was batted down in the end zone.

The Gamecocks nearly stole the game. They didn’t do it by swiping the laptop, though.

“It didn’t have anything to do with the outcome of the game,” Tuberville said. “It didn’t have anything to do with it at all. I heard it from a lot of people insinuating that it was a conspiracy. It was not a conspiracy. Somebody needed some bucks, and I hope they got more than $100 because it’s worth a lot more than that.”

Tuberville said the laptop only included the South Carolina gameplan and practice footage from that week, much of it available to anyone with a VCR or TiVo. He said the laptop has been replaced.

Auburn plays Arkansas on Saturday.

AP-ES-10-01-06 1806EDT

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