As expected tonight, former Ole Miss, Texas Tech, and Cincinnati head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who lived off of a government paycheck in his previous positions, will continue to live off of a government paycheck as he wins the race for U.S. Senate in Alabama tonight over incumbent (who??) Doug Jones.
Oh, but there’s an Auburn connection here as well! In case you didn’t know, Tuberville happened to spend a decade in our little town coaching the intercollegiate football squad. I think we’ve got some grainy footage here —
Wow, who knew? Seems like a special time from a long gone era. Either way, he’s in a completely different role now in the state of Alabama, so let’s review some of the concerns we’ve got with the new Senator.
- TOUGH OPPONENTS TO START: Tuberville wins the seat as a Republican, so he’ll have to deal with established Washington Democratic players like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Shumer, and his colleagues (and former Presidential candidates) Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar. It remains to be seen how he’ll handle working hand in hand with the opposition instead of grinding things to a halt, like what happened in 1999 when his Auburn team was set to play Florida State.
- CRONYISM: During his time at Auburn, Tuberville came under fire for his loyalty to a certain cadre of assistant coaches known colloquially as the BBQ Buddies (or Gang, or Crew, you get the idea). Those guys who’d been with him for years, but who may not have been the best performers for the job. It was such that his supremely-talented 2003 Auburn team, that would go on to an undefeated season the next year with essentially the same roster, fell flat in 2003. The reason? Tuberville didn’t search for a new offensive coordinator. He promoted one of his boys, who flubbed the season. He was more loyal to his friends than to Auburn. Will he be more loyal to his friends than to his state and country? 2003 was only mildly saved when an outside consultant was brought in (imagine that happening now) and then when Tuberville finally went outside of his comfort zone to hire Al Borges from Indiana. To tell you the truth, this may actually work in his favor in politics.
- WILTING IN THE FACE OF A TRUE CHALLENGE: How can we know that Tubs won’t bolt when the going gets tough? In the offseason after 2006, Tommy Tuberville’s job got a good bit more difficult when Alabama fired Mike Shula and hired Nick Saban from the Miami Dolphins. Saban came in, worked hard, and dominated the in-state recruiting. Furthermore, he developed those players once they got to Tuscaloosa. Tuberville’s strength was always as a player developer, but he would look for the diamonds in the rough, so to speak, and coach them up. When you’re coaching up 3-star players, and your opponent is better at coaching up 5-star players, it’s not going to end well for you. Instead of hitting the recruiting trail when Alabama was down, Tuberville won the SEC once with a great team, but had the talent to win it from 2002-2006. He should have had Alabama in the grave when Saban was hired, but it took them one full year to get back to top strength.
- POOR PLANNING: This ties in with the above, but Tuberville’s god-awful recruiting efforts after 2007 are what led Auburn to endure the lull toward the end of Gene Chizik’s tenure. Give Tubs credit for the offensive line class of 2007, which helped win a national title in 2010, but that’s it. Only a couple of those guys even saw practice squad time in the NFL, and nobody else that he recruited after that point got drafted. Cam Newton was throwing to three-star receivers and destroying the SEC. Imagine if he’d had a Julio Jones type. If Tuberville hadn’t been let go after 2008, then he would’ve led Auburn to a crumbling collapse in subsequent years. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if Gus Malzahn had the benefit of an Alabama team as bad as Tuberville did, we’d have a couple national championships and far better talent.
- RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CURRENT BUYOUT STRUCTURE IN COLLEGE ATHLETICS: When Tuberville lost 36-0 to Alabama in 2008, and Auburn missed a bowl game for the first time since 1999, he “resigned”, but somehow received a $5.1M buyout, with $3M payable within 30 days of his departure and the rest due within a year. That was the start of what we see now. You know when folks talk about getting rid of Gus and we have to wonder where we’d get $21M? That started with Tommy Tuberville.
Those are some serious strikes against the man who will now help represent the state of Alabama in the U.S. Senate. What has Tommy Tuberville said that he wants to accomplish when he gets to Washington? His campaign issues page reads like a McNuggets box of conservative talking points, but there’s no subtance. No solutions, just complaining.
I’m shocked that we don’t see the following issues on the link above:
- THE BCS: The got-dang system that screwed him and allowed the SEC to receive the benefit of the doubt years later never really paid off for Auburn. Tuberville got the short end of the stick with the BCS in 2004, but he never coached in a situation where he would’ve been in contention for the College Football Playoff.
- ARKANSAS/HOUSTON NUTT: Dang Hawg Hex! Arkansas was the bugaboo for Tuberville for years during his early days. Fred Talley, Matt Jones, those guys usually ruined what was a promising season for Auburn. Arkansas cost Auburn at least two SEC West titles in 2002 and 2006. It’s not the first time that a folksy guy in Arkansas messed things up for Republicans...
- BOBBY LOWDER: I wonder how much money Tubs has in FlightTracker’s current stock. It’s essentially what saved his job in 2003. After losing like he had in his first couple of seasons, especially to one of the worst Alabama teams in recent memory, nobody really blamed the Auburn powers for trying to replace him. If they hadn’t done it secretly, then it wouldn’t have been such a problem.
- INSOLENT STUDENTS: See below —
- CHUBBY MATT STAFFORD/REGGIE BALL: Why aren’t these criminals in jail for their crimes against Auburn? Somehow Tuberville had no idea how to plan against these two quarterbacks and Auburn went a combined 0-5 against them during Tubs’ tenure. Georgia Tech was awful with Reggie Ball, but we couldn’t seem to figure out a way to beat them. Matt Stafford is a little more excusable, but in 2006 when Auburn was still in the hunt for a national title in November, Stafford ran all over Auburn as a freshman for an unranked Georgia squad.
Seriously, don’t you wonder why Tuberville isn’t more beloved by people involved with Auburn? He’s got a dominant record against Alabama and the 2004 season under his belt, but he’s not the most cherished ex-coach we’ve got. Now he’s helping run the country.