When Tommy Tuberville was the head football coach at Auburn from 1999–2008, he was perhaps best known for his six-year winning streak against the University of Alabama.
Now he wants the state of Alabama to win.
"That was great," Tuberville said of his winning streak. "I am a winner. That’s one of the things I’ve been telling people. I’m tired of this state being close to the bottom in a lot of things that we do. We’ve done a lot of great things in this state, but I don’t think we’re getting the most out of it."
Tuberville, who recently finished up a three-year stint as the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati, is now considering a run for governor in a state marred by political turmoil and scandal.
He hasn't made a final decision, he said, but he's been on a listening tour for the past few weeks, hearing Alabamians' concerns and gauging whether a run for the state's highest office would be right for him.
“If I’m the guy that can make lives better for the people of Alabama, then I’m going to run and I’m going to win," Tuberville said.
Being a leader, putting together an organization and working toward a common goal, such as winning, has been Tuberville's job for the past 40 years, he said. But now he's through coaching and wants to use his talents for something else.
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"I’ve moved back to Alabama, and I want to continue to raise my family here — my kids and grandkids," Tuberville told The Plainsman. "If I do this, I’m not going to be doing it for ego or notoriety. I’ve already had a heck of a job in this state. This is purely for the fact that I want to help people."
The former Auburn football coach turned possible gubernatorial candidate stressed that football is only a game, but running a state is not.
"The governor is in charge of almost 5 million people, trying to make their lives better, making us safer, prosperous, giving them a chance for better health, giving them a chance to do what they want to do and enjoy life," Tuberville said. "I’ve got great leadership skills and I want to put them to work."
Late last month, Tuberville filed paperwork establishing his principal campaign committee. Later in the week, Tuberville filed a campaign finance disclosure that showed he loaned himself $100,000 for his gubernatorial campaign, according to campaign finance records.
Such a loan is not uncommon for major candidates, and Tuberville has warned that the campaign filing nor the loan should be taken as
"I basically loaned myself some money so that we could get a few people to look at it in the right way, to travel, to listen, to learn," Tuberville said. "That’s all that was."
His actual campaign for governor, if he chooses to run, would begin in the first week of June, when major candidates can begin fundraising. When that day comes, Tuberville can begin convincing Alabamians that he is the right choice to be their governor.
Under his leadership at Auburn, the Tigers had an 85-40 record — one of the most successful in Auburn history. In 2004, the team went undefeated but didn't make it into the BCS National Championship game. They took a 2005 Sugar Bowl victory instead.
After leaving Auburn in 2008, Tuberville coached at Texas Tech and then moved on to Cincinnati.
In a state characterized by its devotion to football and college athletics, it might take a lot of convincing to get Alabama fans on board with the guy who had a 7-3 record against the Crimson Tide during his time at Auburn.
"I don’t think anyone is going to hold that I was at Auburn against me," he said. "I would think people are going to vote for the best person they think could run the state."
And this isn't the first time Tuberville has considered a run for governor, he said. He actually considered it when he resigned from Auburn in 2008. But he wasn't ready then. He wanted to coach for a little longer, but now he's done with coaching.
Tuberville has spoken little about his political philosophy but has signed up to run on the Republican ticket. He wouldn't say directly if the election of President Donald Trump was a motivating factor in his decision to run but praised the new president's goals of bringing manufacturing and industry back to the U.S.
“The biggest thing that everyone is talking about across the country is that we have to be prepared for the next eight years on the opportunity to improve your entire state," Tuberville said.
"What we have to prepare for is to make ourselves — through education, health
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