Tommy Tuberville

Last updated

Tommy Tuberville
Tommy Tuberville 117th Congress Portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from Alabama
Assumed office
January 3, 2021
Servingwith Richard Shelby
Preceded by Doug Jones
Personal details
Thomas Hawley Tuberville

(1954-09-18) September 18, 1954 (age 66)
Camden, Arkansas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Suzanne Fette
(m. 1991)
Education Southern Arkansas University (BS)
Website Senate website
Coaching career
Playing career
1972–1975 Southern Arkansas
Position(s) Safety
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1976–1977 Hermitage HS (AR) (assistant)
1978–1979Hermitage HS (AR)
1980–1984 Arkansas State (DB/NG/LB)
1986–1992 Miami (FL) (assistant)
1993Miami (FL) (DC)
1994 Texas A&M (DC/LB)
1995–1998 Ole Miss
1999–2008 Auburn
2010–2012 Texas Tech
2013–2016 Cincinnati
Head coaching record
Overall159–99 (college)
Accomplishments and honors
SEC (2004)
The American (2014)
SEC Western Division (2000–2002, 2004–2005)
AFCA Coach of the Year (2004)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2004)
Sporting News College Football COY (2004)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2004)
SEC Coach of the Year (1997, 2004)

Thomas Hawley Tuberville ( /ˈtʌbərvɪl/ TUBB-ər-vill; [1] born September 18, 1954) is an American retired college football coach and politician serving as the junior United States senator from Alabama since 2021. Before entering politics, Tuberville was the head football coach at Auburn University from 1999 to 2008. He was also the head football coach at the University of Mississippi from 1995 to 1998, Texas Tech University from 2010 to 2012, and the University of Cincinnati from 2013 to 2016.


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 in 2007. Tuberville 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 its college football coverage. [2]

Entering the 2020 United States Senate election in Alabama as a Republican, Tuberville won the nomination and defeated Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in the general election. [3] [4] [5] Shortly after taking office, he joined a group of Republican senators attempting to overturn Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election over incumbent Republican president Donald Trump. [6] In the 2021 United States Electoral College count, Tuberville was one of six Republican senators who objected to counting Arizona's electoral votes for Biden and one of seven who objected to counting Pennsylvania's electoral votes for Biden; both objections were defeated. [7] [8]

Early life and education

Tuberville was born and raised in Camden, Arkansas, one of three children of Olive Nell (née Chambliss) and Charles R. Tuberville, Jr. [9] He graduated from Harmony Grove High School in Camden in 1972. [10] He attended Southern Arkansas University, where he lettered in football as a safety for the Muleriders [10] and played two years on the golf team. He received a B.S. in physical education from SAU in 1976. [11] In 2008, he was inducted into the Southern Arkansas University Sports Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. [12]

Coaching career

Tuberville, Jack Siedlecki, Mark Richt, Randy Shannon, and Charlie Weis watch President George W. Bush speak to reporters in May 2008 President George W. Bush speaks to reporters with NCAA head football coaches.jpg
Tuberville, Jack Siedlecki, Mark Richt, Randy Shannon, and Charlie Weis watch President George W. Bush speak to reporters in May 2008

Early career

Tuberville first coached at Hermitage High School in Hermitage, Arkansas. [10] He was an assistant coach at Arkansas State University. [10] 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). [13] [14] 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. [15]

Ole Miss

Tuberville got his first collegiate head coaching job in 1994 at the University of Mississippi (known as "Ole Miss"). 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. [16] "We can't recruit against the Confederate flag," he said. [17] The chancellor of Ole Miss ultimately placed a ban on sticks at football games, which effectively banned spectators from waving flags. [18]

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. [19]


Tuberville left Ole Miss following the 1998 season to take the head coaching job at Auburn University in Alabama. 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 statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl. Robinson was suspended from the team for five months. He ultimately pleaded 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. [20]

In 2004, Auburn went 13–0, including the SEC title and a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Tuberville received the Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year Award, 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-PluggingIn.jpg
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 Vanderbiltthe 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. [21] [22] [23]

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 resigned as coach. [24] Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said, "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." [25] With his departure, Tuberville was paid a prorated 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. [26] He also made a cameo appearance in the Academy Award-winning feature film The Blind Side .

Texas Tech

Tuberville during the 2011 Texas Tech Red Raiders Spring Game Tommy Tuberville 2011 Texas Tech Red Raiders Spring Game.jpg
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. [27] On January 9, 2010, Tuberville was named head coach and was introduced at a press conference on Sunday, January 10, 2010. [28] 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. [29] 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. [30] 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. [31] 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. [32] 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. [33]

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. [34] 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. [35] 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. [36] [37] Cincinnati's athletic director, Whit Babcock, had previously worked with Tuberville at Auburn; the two had been friends for several years. [38] 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. [39]

In 2013, his first season with Cincinnati, Tuberville led the Bearcats to an overall record of 9–4 and a 6–2 conference record. [11] 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. [40] Both years also saw bowl losses, in 2013 to the North Carolina Tar Heels and 2014 to the Virginia Tech Hokies. [41]

On December 4, 2016, after a 4–8 season, he resigned as head coach of Cincinnati. [42] Tuberville left Cincinnati with an overall record of 29–22 and 18–14 in AAC conference play.

TS Capital

After resigning from Auburn in December 2008, Tuberville formed a 50-50 partnership with former Lehman Brothers broker John David Stroud, creating TS Capital Management and TS Capital Partners, [43] where he had an office and helped find investors. [44] In February 2012, seven investors sued Tuberville and Stroud, saying they were defrauded of more than $1.7 million [45] that they invested from 2008 to 2011. [46] Tuberville's attorneys denied the allegations. [47]

In May 2012, Stroud was indicted for fraudulent use of $5.2 million from various Auburn investment companies, including his partnerships with Tuberville; [48] Tuberville was not charged. [49] Tuberville said in court filings that he was also a victim, and had lost $450,000; he settled the investor lawsuit in October 2013 on undisclosed terms. [50] [51] In November 2013, Stroud pleaded guilty and received a 10-year sentence. [48]

Tommy Tuberville Foundation

In 2014, Tuberville founded the Tommy Tuberville Foundation, which aimed to help American veterans. In 2020, the Associated Press reported that tax records showed the foundation spent only about one-third of the money it raised on charitable giving. People involved with the foundation said its tax filings didn't reflect volunteer labor and donated materials used to refurbish veterans' homes. [52] [53]

U.S. Senate


Tuberville's opponent was incumbent Senator Doug Jones Senator Doug Jones official photo.jpg
Tuberville's opponent was incumbent Senator Doug Jones

In August 2018, Tuberville moved from Florida to Alabama with the intent to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020. [54] In April 2019, he announced he would enter the 2020 Republican primary for the Senate seat held by Democrat Doug Jones. [55] Tuberville's campaign was described as "low-profile,” with few pre-scheduled campaign appearances or press conferences. [56] He closely allied himself with President Donald Trump. [56] Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was a member of Tuberville's campaign staff. [57]

Tuberville opposes abortion and favors repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). He supports Trump's proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico. [58] Tuberville supports reducing the national debt through cuts to social programs, but opposes cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. [56] He dismisses the science of climate change, saying that the global climate "won't change enough in the next 400 years to affect anybody." [59] [60]

On March 3, 2020, he earned 33.4% of the vote in the Republican primary in Alabama, ahead of former United States senator and former attorney general Jeff Sessions, who received 31.6%. Because neither candidate won over 50% of the vote, there was a primary runoff election.

On March 10, ahead of the runoff election, Trump endorsed Tuberville. [61] Trump had been angered by 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. [56] In May 2020, Trump called Sessions "slime" for this decision. [62] In campaign ads, Tuberville attacked Sessions for not being "man enough to stand with President Trump when things got tough." [63] In the July 14 runoff, Tuberville defeated Sessions with 60.7% of the vote. [63]

As the Republican nominee, Tuberville was heavily favored to win the election. [64] He was endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee, America's largest anti-abortion organization. [65] On November 3, Tuberville defeated Jones with 60.1% of the vote. [5]

In an Alabama Daily News interview after the election, Tuberville erroneously said that the European theater of World War II was fought "to free Europe of socialism" and that the three branches of the U.S. federal government were "the House, the Senate, and the executive." He also said that he was looking forward to raising money from his Senate office, a violation of federal law. Tuberville's comments attracted criticism. [66] [67]


Tuberville with his son at the 2021 Inauguration of Joe Biden. Tommy Tuberville with son at Joe Biden 2021 presidential inauguration.jpg
Tuberville with his son at the 2021 Inauguration of Joe Biden.

After taking office in January 2021, Tuberville joined a group of Republican senators who announced they would formally object to counting electoral votes won by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The objections were part of a continued effort from incumbent Republican president Donald Trump and his allies to overturn his defeat in the election.

When the Electoral College count was held on January 6, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, forcing officials to evacuate their chambers before the count was completed. Trump contacted Tuberville during the riot through the cell phone of Utah Senator Mike Lee, whom Trump misdialed. [68] The count resumed that evening once the Capitol was secured.

Tuberville voted in support of an objection to Arizona's electoral votes and an objection to Pennsylvania's electoral votes, both of which were won by Biden. He was one of six Republican senators to support the former objection and one of seven to support the latter; the remainder of the Senate defeated the objections. [69] [70] No further objections to the electoral votes were debated and the count concluded on the morning of January 7, certifying Biden's victory over Trump.



Personal life

Tuberville married Vicki Lynn Harris, also from Camden, Arkansas, and a graduate of Harmony Grove High School, on December 19, 1976. [71] [72] [73] [74] The couple later divorced. In 1991, Tuberville married Suzanne (née Fette) of Guilford, Indiana; they have two sons. [39]

Tuberville invested $1.9 million in GLC Enterprises, which the Securities and Exchange Commission called an $80 million Ponzi scheme. [75] He lost about $150,000 when the business closed in 2011 [76] and filed for bankruptcy. [77]

During his time at Auburn, Tuberville participated actively in the Auburn Church of Christ. [78]

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. service members. He loves country and western music. [79]

Head coaching record

Ole Miss Rebels (Southeastern Conference)(1995–1998)
1995 Ole Miss 6–53–55th (Western)
1996 Ole Miss 5–62–6T–5th (Western)
1997 Ole Miss 8–44–4T–3rd (Western)W Motor City 2222
1998 Ole Miss 6–53–54th (Western) Independence*
Ole Miss:25–2012–20* Bowl game coached by David Cutcliffe
Auburn Tigers (Southeastern Conference)(1999–2008)
1999 Auburn 5–62–65th (Western)
2000 Auburn 9–46–21st (Western)L Florida Citrus 2018
2001 Auburn 7–55–3T–1st (Western)L Peach
2002 Auburn 9–45–3T–2nd (Western) [n 1] W Capital One 1614
2003 Auburn 8–55–33rd (Western)W Music City
2004 Auburn 13–08–01st (Western)W Sugar 22
2005 Auburn 9–37–1T–1st (Western)L Capital One 1414
2006 Auburn 11–26–2T–2nd (Western)W Cotton 89
2007 Auburn 9–45–32nd (Western)W Chick-fil-A 1415
2008 Auburn 5–72–6T–4th (Western)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (Big 12 Conference)(2010–2012)
2010 Texas Tech 8–53–55th (South)W TicketCity
2011 Texas Tech 5–72–79th
2012 Texas Tech 7–54–5T–5th Meineke Car Care*
Texas Tech:20–179–17* Bowl game coached by Chris Thomsen
Cincinnati Bearcats (American Athletic Conference)(2013–2016)
2013 Cincinnati 9–46–23rdL Belk
2014 Cincinnati 9–47–1T–1stL Military
2015 Cincinnati 7–64–4T–3rd (East)L Hawaii
2016 Cincinnati 4–81–7T–4th (East)
      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.

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Party political offices
Preceded by
Roy Moore
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alabama
(Class 2)

Most recent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Doug Jones
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Alabama
Served alongside: Richard Shelby
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Hagerty
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Alex Padilla