Tommy Tuberville

Thomas Hawley Tuberville (/ˈtʌbərvɪl/;[1] born September 18, 1954) is a former American football coach, former player, and the 2020 Republican U.S. Senate nominee from Alabama. Tuberville was the head football coach at the University of Mississippi from 1995 to 1998, Auburn University from 1999 to 2008, Texas Tech University from 2010 to 2012, and the University of Cincinnati from 2013 to 2016.

Tommy Tuberville
Tommy Tuberville in 2008
Personal details
Thomas Hawley Tuberville

(1954-09-18) September 18, 1954 (age 65)
Camden, Arkansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Suzanne Fette
m. 1991)
MotherOlive Tuberville
FatherCharles Tuberville Jr.
EducationSouthern Arkansas University (BS)
WebsiteCampaign website
Coaching career
Playing career
1972–1975Southern Arkansas
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976–1977Hermitage HS (AR) (assistant)
1978–1979Hermitage HS (AR)
1980–1984Arkansas State (DB/NG/LB)
1986–1992Miami (FL) (assistant)
1993Miami (FL) (DC)
1994Texas A&M (DC/LB)
1995–1998Ole Miss
2010–2012Texas Tech
Head coaching record
Overall159–99 (college)
Accomplishments and honors
1x SEC (2004)
1x The American (2014)
5x SEC Western Division (2000–2002, 2004–2005)
1x AFCA Coach of the Year (2004)
1x Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2004)
1x Sporting News College Football COY (2004)
1x Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2004)
2x SEC Coach of the Year (1997, 2004)

Tuberville received the 2004 Walter Camp and Bear Bryant Coach of the Year awards after Auburn's 13–0 season, in which Auburn won the Southeastern Conference title and the Sugar Bowl but was left out of the BCS National Championship Game. He earned his 100th career win on October 6, 2007, a 35–7 victory over Vanderbilt. He is the only coach in Auburn football history to beat in-state rival Alabama six consecutive times.

In 2015, Tuberville was the president of the American Football Coaches Association. During 2017, he worked for ESPN as a color analyst for their college football coverage.[2]

Since April 2019, he has been a candidate in the 2020 United States Senate election in Alabama.[3] On July 14, 2020, Tuberville won the Republican nomination, defeating former Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.[4]

Early yearsEdit

Tuberville was born and raised in Camden, Arkansas, one of three children of Charles and Olive Tuberville.[5] He graduated from Harmony Grove High School in Camden in 1972. He attended Southern Arkansas University, where he lettered in football as a safety for the Muleriders and played two years on the golf team. He received a B.S. in physical education from SAU in 1976.[6] In 2008, he was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.[7]

Coaching careerEdit

Tuberville, Jack Siedlecki, Mark Richt, Randy Shannon, and Charlie Weis watch President George W. Bush speak to reporters in May 2008

Early careerEdit

Tuberville first coached at Hermitage High School in Hermitage, Arkansas. He was an assistant coach at Arkansas State University. He then went through the ranks at the University of Miami, beginning as graduate assistant and ending as defensive coordinator in 1993 and winning the national championship three times during his tenure there (1986–1994). In 1994, Tuberville replaced Bob Davie as defensive coordinator under R. C. Slocum at Texas A&M University. The Aggies went 10–0–1 that season.

Ole MissEdit

Tuberville got his first collegiate head coaching job in 1994 at the University of Mississippi. Despite taking over a Rebels team under severe NCAA scholarship sanctions, he was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 1997 by the AP.

At Ole Miss, Tuberville became involved in the movement to ban Confederate flags from the football stadium by requesting that the students quit waving them during the home football games.[8] "We can't recruit against the Confederate flag," he said.[9] The chancellor of Ole Miss ultimately placed a ban on sticks at football games, which effectively banned spectators from waving flags.[10]

During his tenure, Tuberville was known as the "Riverboat Gambler" for his aggressive play-calling, especially on fourth down. At Ole Miss, he said, "They'll have to carry me out of here in a pine box," in reference to not leaving to coach at another school. Less than a week later, it was announced that he was departing for Auburn.[11]


Tuberville left Ole Miss following the 1998 season to take the head coaching job at Auburn University. At Auburn, he guided the Tigers to the top of the SEC standings, leading them to an SEC championship and the Western Division title in 2004. Under his direction, the Tigers made eight consecutive bowl appearances including five New Year's Day bowl berths.

During the 1999 off-season, wide receiver Clifton Robinson was charged with statuatory rape of a 15-year-old girl. Robinson was suspended from the team for five months. He ultimately pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service. After the plea deal, Tuberville suspended Robinson for the season opener before allowing him to rejoin the team.[12]

In 2004, Auburn went 13–0, including the SEC title and a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Tuberville received Coach of the Year awards from the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association, the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

In 2005, despite losing the entire starting backfield from the unbeaten 2004 team to the first round of the NFL draft, Tuberville led Auburn to a 9–3 record, finishing the regular season with victories over rivals Georgia and Alabama.

Under Tuberville, Auburn had a winning record against its biggest rival, Alabama (7–3), and was tied with its next two most significant rivals, Georgia (5–5) and LSU (5–5). He led Auburn to six straight victories over in-state rival Alabama, the longest win streak in this rivalry since 1982, the year Auburn broke Alabama's nine-year winning streak.

Tuberville before the 2007 Vanderbilt game, his 100th career win

Tuberville also established himself as one of the best big-game coaches in college football, winning nine of his last 15 games against top-10 opponents since the start of the 2004 season. In 2006, his Tigers beat two top-5 teams who later played in BCS bowls, including eventual BCS Champion Florida. Tuberville had a 5-2 career record versus top-5 teams, including three wins versus Florida. But he developed a reputation for losing games when he clearly had the better team. Examples include a humbling 24-point loss to a 4–5 Alabama team in 2001 and a loss to Vanderbilt—the first time Auburn lost to the Commodores in over 50 years. In fact, after dropping three straight SEC games in 2003, Auburn booster Bobby Lowder and Auburn's president and athletic director contacted then Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino to gauge his interest in taking the Auburn job if Tuberville was fired. The press found out about the meeting, which occurred just before the 2003 Alabama game, and the episode has since been known as JetGate.[13][14][15]

Tuberville coached 19 players who were selected in the NFL draft, including four first-round picks in 2004, with several others signing as free agents. He coached eight All-Americans and a Thorpe Award winner (Carlos Rogers). Thirty-four players under Tuberville were named to All-SEC (First Team). Eighteen players were named All-SEC freshman. His players were named SEC player of the week 46 times. He also had two SEC players of the year and one SEC Championship game MVP.

Tuberville fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on October 8, 2008. After the 2008 season, with a 5–7 record including losses to Vanderbilt, West Virginia, and a final 36–0 loss to Alabama, he was asked to resign from Auburn.[16] Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs claimed that Tuberville voluntarily resigned. Jacobs added: "To say the least, I was a little shocked. But after three times of asking him would he change his mind, he convinced me that the best thing for him and his family and for this football program was for him to possibly take a year off and take a step back."[17] With his departure, Tuberville was paid a pro-rated buyout of $5.1 million. The payments included $3 million within 30 days of his resignation date and the remainder within a year.

Following his departure from Auburn, during the 2009 football season, Tuberville worked as an analyst for Buster Sports and ESPN, discussing the SEC and the Top 25 on various television shows and podcasts.[18] He also made a cameo appearance in the Academy Award-winning feature film The Blind Side.

Texas TechEdit

Tuberville during the 2011 Texas Tech Red Raiders Spring Game

On December 31, 2009, Tuberville expressed interest in becoming the head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team. The position was left open after the university fired Mike Leach.[19] On January 9, 2010, Tuberville was named head coach and was introduced at a press conference on Sunday, January 10, 2010.[20] On January 1, 2011, Tuberville became the second head coach in Texas Tech football history to win a bowl game in his first season—an accomplishment unmatched since DeWitt Weaver's first season in 1951-52.[21] This was a 45-38 victory over Northwestern in the inaugural TicketCity Bowl.

On January 18, 2011, Texas Tech announced that Tuberville received a one-year contract extension and a $500,000 per year raise. The extension and raise gave Tuberville a $2 million per-year salary through the 2015 season. At the beginning of Tuberville's first year at Texas Tech, season ticket sales increased from the previous record of 30,092 to 46,546.[22] Additionally, Tuberville is responsible for the highest-rated recruiting class in Texas Tech history, securing the 18th-ranked recruiting class in 2011 according to and the 14th-ranked class in the country according to

On November 10, 2012, during a game against the Kansas Jayhawks, Tuberville became involved in a dispute with graduate assistant Kevin Oliver. Tuberville appeared to slap him and knocked off both Oliver's hat and his headset.[23] After the game, Tuberville initially explained the incident by stating that he was aiming for Oliver's shirt in an attempt to pull him off the field.[24] Two days later in his weekly press conference Tuberville apologized, citing his desire to set a better example for his two sons, one of whom was on the team.[25]

Although Tuberville continued to run Leach's wide-open "Air Raid" spread offense, he was never really embraced by a fan base still smarting over the popular Leach's ouster.[26] According to a student on a recruiting trip to Texas Tech, Tuberville departed a recruiting dinner mid-meal and the next day accepted an offer to become Cincinnati's head coach.[27] Tuberville left Texas Tech with an overall record of 20–17 and 9–17 in Big 12 conference play.


On December 8, 2012, Tuberville resigned as head coach at Texas Tech in order to become the 38th head coach at the University of Cincinnati. He signed a $2.2 million contract to coach the team.[28][29] Cincinnati's athletic director, Whit Babcock, had previously worked with Tuberville at Auburn; the two had been friends for several years.[30] On December 9, an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal pointed out that Cincinnati is only 30 miles from Guilford, Indiana, home of Tuberville's wife, Suzanne.[31]

In 2013, his first season with Cincinnati, Tuberville led the Bearcats to an overall record of 9–4 and a 6–2 conference record.[6] His 2014 team was also 9–4 overall, but this time earned an American Athletic Conference co-championship by virtue of their 7–1 league mark.[32] Both years also saw bowl losses, in 2013 to the North Carolina Tar Heels and 2014 to the Virginia Tech Hokies.[33]

On December 4, 2016, after a 4–8 season, he resigned as head coach of Cincinnati.[34] Tuberville left Cincinnati with an overall record of 29–22 and 18–14 in AAC conference play.

2020 U.S. Senate campaignEdit

Tuberville in 2007

In August 2018, Tuberville moved from Florida to Alabama with the intent of running for the U.S. Senate in 2020.[35] In April 2019, he announced he would enter the 2020 Republican primary for the Senate seat held by Democrat Doug Jones.[36] Tuberville has run a campaign described as "low-profile,” with few pre-scheduled campaign appearances or press conferences.[37] He has closely allied himself with President Donald Trump.[37] Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is a member of Tuberville's campaign staff.[38]

Tuberville opposes abortion, favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), and supports Trump's proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico.[39] He supports reducing the national debt through cuts to social programs, but opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.[37]

On March 3, 2020, Tuberville finished first in the Republican primary with 33.4% of the vote, ahead of former United States senator and former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who received 31.6%. Because neither candidate got over 50% of the vote, this led to a runoff on July 14, which Tuberville won; defeating Sessions with 60.7% of the vote.[40] He will face Jones in the general election on November 3, 2020.

On March 10, Trump endorsed Tuberville.[41] Many in the press attributed Trump's support of Tuberville to animosity that Trump had over Sessions's decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, when Sessions was U.S. Attorney General.[37] In May 2020, Trump called Sessions "slime" for this decision.[42] Tuberville attacked Sessions on this issue as well, stating in one campaign ad that Sessions "wasn't man enough to stand with President Trump when things got tough."[40]

On July 28, 2020, Tuberville was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, America's largest anti-abortion organization.[43]

Personal lifeEdit

Tuberville married Suzanne (née Fette) of Guilford, Indiana, in 1991. They have two sons.[31]

In 2012, Tuberville and his business partner were the subject of a $1.7 million federal lawsuit filed by investors alleging fraud.[44] Attorneys for Tuberville denied the allegations, and he settled the lawsuit in 2013 for undisclosed terms.[45]

Tuberville's interests include "NASCAR, golf, football, hunting and fishing, . . . [and] America's military". He is a director of Morale Entertainment, which provides NCAA members for tours among deployed U.S. servicemembers.[46]

Head coaching recordEdit


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference) (1995–1998)
1995 Ole Miss 6–5 3–5 5th (Western)
1996 Ole Miss 5–6 2–6 T–5th (Western)
1997 Ole Miss 8–4 4–4 T–3rd (Western) W Motor City 22 22
1998 Ole Miss 6–5 3–5 4th (Western) Independence*
Ole Miss: 25–20 12–20 * Bowl game coached by David Cutcliffe
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (1999–2008)
1999 Auburn 5–6 2–6 5th (Western)
2000 Auburn 9–4 6–2 1st (Western) L Florida Citrus 20 18
2001 Auburn 7–5 5–3 T–1st (Western) L Peach
2002 Auburn 9–4 5–3 T–2nd (Western)[n 1] W Capital One 16 14
2003 Auburn 8–5 5–3 3rd (Western) W Music City
2004 Auburn 13–0 8–0 1st (Western) W Sugar 2 2
2005 Auburn 9–3 7–1 T–1st (Western) L Capital One 14 14
2006 Auburn 11–2 6–2 T–2nd (Western) W Cotton 8 9
2007 Auburn 9–4 5–3 2nd (Western) W Chick-fil-A 14 15
2008 Auburn 5–7 2–6 T–4th (Western)
Auburn: 85–40 52–30
Texas Tech Red Raiders (Big 12 Conference) (2010–2012)
2010 Texas Tech 8–5 3–5 5th (South) W TicketCity
2011 Texas Tech 5–7 2–7 9th
2012 Texas Tech 7–5 4–5 T–5th Meineke Car Care*
Texas Tech: 20–17 9–17 * Bowl game coached by Chris Thomsen
Cincinnati Bearcats (American Athletic Conference) (2013–2016)
2013 Cincinnati 9–4 6–2 3rd L Belk
2014 Cincinnati 9–4 7–1 T–1st L Military
2015 Cincinnati 7–6 4–4 T–3rd (East) L Hawaii
2016 Cincinnati 4–8 1–7 T–4th (East)
Cincinnati: 29–22 18–14
Total: 159–99
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ In 2002, Alabama finished first in Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) with a conference record of 6–2, but was ineligible for the division title or postseason play as part of a penalty for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) violations. Auburn, Arkansas, and LSU tied for second place, each with a 5–3 mark in the conference, and were named co-champions. Arkansas was awarded a berth in the SEC Championship Game by virtue of their head-to-head wins over Auburn and LSU.


  1. ^ "'We need a different voice:' Tommy Tuberville says it's time to send real people to Washington D.C." CBS 42. March 4, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  2. ^ "ESPN adds Tommy Tuberville as college football analyst. He currently hosts a radio talk show for wearebackroads sports network". July 19, 2017. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  3. ^ "Tommy Tuberville running for U.S. Senate". al. April 6, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Tommy Tuberville wins the Alabama GOP Senate primary, defeating Jeff Sessions". VOX. July 14, 2020. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  5. ^ "Tommy Tuberville". NNDB. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  6. ^ a b [1]
  7. ^ "Tommy Tuberville Inducted Into Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall Of Fame". Auburn Football. October 27, 2008. Archived from the original on December 24, 2014.
  8. ^ "How Tommy Tuberville and the power of compromise helped remove Confederate flags from the University of Mississippi - Magnolia State Live". Magnolia State Live. December 11, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  9. ^ "Former Ole Miss chancellor talks about how Confederate flag ban changed a culture". al. October 29, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  10. ^ Sharp, John (June 13, 2020). "'An instrumental part': Did Tommy Tuberville get the Confederate flag removed from Ole Miss?". Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  11. ^ Dellenger, Ross (October 26, 2007). "Ole Miss won't forget old 'pine box' comments". Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  12. ^ Lyman, Brian (July 1, 2020). "Tuberville campaign responds to report on former coach's handling of charges against player". Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  13. ^ "Tuberville on Bobby Petrino, JetGate, pine box quote". al. May 23, 2019. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  14. ^ "Jetgate: A Look Back". College and Magnolia. September 3, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  15. ^ Greer, Jeff. "JetGate changed future of Louisville, Auburn". The Courier-Journal. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  16. ^ "Tommy Tuberville Resigns As Head Football Coach At Auburn". December 3, 2008. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  17. ^ "Auburn AD: Tuberville's resignation a surprise".
  18. ^ "Blue Plate Special: Tuberville on Auburn's opener |". September 5, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  19. ^ "Ex-Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville expresses interest in Texas Tech Red Raiders job - ESPN". December 31, 2009. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  20. ^ "Source: Tommy Tuberville will be next Texas Tech Red Raiders coach", ESPN, January 9, 2010
  21. ^ Harland, C. W. "Pete" (March 20, 2011). "Tuberville wasn't first coach to win bowl in first Tech year". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. p. A12. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  22. ^ "Football Season Ticket Sales Break Record". Texas Tech Today. August 25, 2010. Retrieved April 18, 2011.
  23. ^ Myerberg, Paul (November 10, 2012). "Tommy Tuberville gets physical with an assistant (GIF)". USA Today. Retrieved November 11, 2012.
  24. ^ Schwab, Frank (November 10, 2012). "Tommy Tuberville says he was just trying to get assistant off the field when he yanked off his headset". Yahoo Sports. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  25. ^ Kay, Joe (December 9, 2012). "Tuberville takes Cincinnati post". Advocate. Baton Rouge. p. 5C. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  26. ^ Texas Tech hires Kliff Kingsbury. ESPN, December 12, 2012.
  27. ^ Myerberg, Paul. "Tommy Tuberville left recruits at dinner to take Cincinnati job". USA Today. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  28. ^ Peale, Cliff (January 2, 2013). "Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville will make $2.2M". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  29. ^ Kosmider, Nick (December 8, 2012). "Tuberville leaves Texas Tech for Cincinnati". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  30. ^ Tommy Tuberville new Cincy coach. ESPN, December 8, 2012.
  31. ^ a b Kosmidier, Nick (December 9, 2012). "Cincinnati, really?: Tuberville bolts Lubbock; stuns community, team". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. pp. A1, A9. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  32. ^ Groeschen, Tom (December 6, 2014). "Bearcats earn share of AAC title with win over Houston". The Enquirer. USA Today.
  33. ^ "Bearcats Drop Military Bowl To Virginia Tech".
  34. ^ Chip, Patterson; Dodd, Dennis (December 4, 2016). "Tommy Tuberville steps down at Cincinnati after 4-8 season". CBS Sports.
  35. ^ "Alabama Senate race turns nasty with 2 weeks to go". Birmingham, AL. February 17, 2020.
  36. ^ Miller, Zeke (April 6, 2019). "Ex-Auburn football coach Tuberville to run for Ala. Senate". AP NEWS. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  37. ^ a b c d Lyman, Brian (July 14, 2020). "Tommy Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions in Alabama Republican Senate runoff". USA Today.
  38. ^ Clark, Dave (April 6, 2019). "Tommy Tuberville, former UC Bearcats coach, declares he'll run for U.S. Senate in Alabama". The Cincinnati Enquirer.
  39. ^ Pateras, Grace. "Alabama senate race 2020: Meet the candidates running for US Senate on Super Tuesday". The Montgomery Advertiser. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  40. ^ a b Moore, Elena (July 14, 2020). "Jeff Sessions Is Projected To Lose Comeback Bid For Alabama Senate Seat". NPR.
  41. ^ Haberman, Maggie (March 10, 2020). "Trump Endorses Tommy Tuberville (and Not Jeff Sessions) for Senate in Alabama". New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  42. ^ "Trump calls Sessions 'slime,' urges him to exit Senate race". al. May 23, 2020. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  43. ^ "America's Largest Anti-Abortion Group Endorses Tommy Tuberville". Bama Politics. July 28, 2020. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  44. ^ Turner, John (February 28, 2012). "Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville subject of $1.7 million fraud lawsuit (updated)". The Huntsville Times. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  45. ^ "Cincinnati's Tommy Tuberville settles fraud lawsuit". USA Today. October 10, 2013.
  46. ^ Ritz, Jennifer (September–October 2010), "Tommy Tuberville", Texas Techsan: The Magazine for Texas Tech Alumni, 63 (05): 28

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Roy Moore
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alabama
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