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Two-minute offense with Auburn's Tommy Tuberville.

AFCA: Was becoming a football coach a dream of yours growing up or did you want to pursue another career?

TT: When I first went to college in 1972, I was studying business, and I was playing football. I started officiating football games with my father during that time and realized that after I graduated, I wanted to stay in a sports related field and remain competitive. Being around my father and competing in college football changed my focus to coaching.


AFCA: Who were some coaches that influenced you early on in your playing career?

TT: There are a couple of people that had a great influence on me. One was Butch Stoker, my high school football coach, Sonny Whittington, my defensive coach in college, and Rip Powell, my college head coach. I think those three had a big influence on me in the game of football, and to get into the coaching profession after my playing days were over. I grew up a college football fan, and the coaches in the old Southwest Conference I really looked up to. Coaches like Darryl Royal, Frank Broyles, and Grant Teaff are the people I saw on television or listened to on the radio in the late 60s and early 70s. Those guys had a direct effect on me forming on opinion if I wanted to be a coach or not.

AFCA: Who were some of the coaches that you worked with coming up through the coaching ranks that had an influence on you?

TT: Larry Lacewell was a defensive coach I worked with at Arkansas State who I learned a lot of my coaching fundamentals from. He was one of the best defensive minds that I have ever been around. He and Monty Kiffen were guys that I looked up to when I first got into coaching defense in college. Jimmy Johnson was a guy I worked for at Miami that I took a lot of philosophy from. I didn't learn a lot of Xs and Os from him, but I took a lot of knowledge about public relations, recruiting and motivation. Dennis Erickson taught me a lot about offense, of which I still use to this day. I was fortunate to coach under a lot of great guys and learn different philosophies, which I used to formulate what I do now at Auburn.

AFCA: What was it like coaching at the University of Miami during its glory years?

TT: Well, the years that I spent in Miami, I think our overall record was 88-7. We won three national titles and finished second three times, and won all 55 of our homes games while I was an assistant coach. The one year I spent at Texas A&M, we went undefeated. I was fortunate to work for some great coaches at some very good programs.

AFCA: What are your thoughts on the current BCS system and what changes, if any, would you like to see implemented?

TT: You hear a lot about the BCS and playoffs. I had the opportunity to coach in the Division I-AA playoffs for Larry Lacewell at Arkansas State and I formed a lot of opinions on playoffs, about how tough they are, on coaches and on players, because it is a long season and it goes through semester finals. I think our regular season in Division I-A is a playoff system because if you lose a game, that is like a one-round playoff and your national title chances are usually out, but you might be able to continue on and win the conference championship. Now in 2003, we had two teams win the national title with one loss, but there is usually one team that is going to run the table. Even though we were the odd man out this year, I like our system. Now, if we could formulate some system were we could play the bowl games, then have a championship game, I would be for that if we could do it the right way.

AFCA: How tough is it to go undefeated in the Southeastern Conference?

TT: It is a dream come true knowing how tough our conference is. I have had some really good teams in the 10 years that I have been coaching in the SEC, but you never expect to go undefeated because everybody has good players and great teams and you have to be on top of your game every week. That is why I am so proud of this year's team, because we never had a bad game. If you look at USC and Oklahoma, they had some bad games where they pulled off the victory in the end, but we didn't have to that once this year. We might have had a bad quarter every now and again, but this team was consistent and ran the table. We have done something that very few programs have ever done and will probably ever do again because now we have a championship game and are getting ready to have 12 regular season games. There aren't going to be very many SEC teams that will make it through a season undefeated.

AFCA: What does it take to produce a winning record in the SEC every year?

TT: You have to have good linemen. Everybody has good players, but the difference in our conference and maybe a few others is the really good teams have great offensive and defensive linemen. The defenses in our league on consistently good, and that is another area from which you have to excel to be good in this league. If you have good linemen and a great defense, you are going to be successful in the SEC.

AFCA: What are some of the great highlights that you have been a part of since you have been a head coach?

TT: I can remember my very first season at Ole Miss, we won our third or fourth game of the season against a very good Georgia team when we weren't a very good team. Our kids played hard and overcame a lot of obstacles and we were able to be a Top 20 team, which was a good milestone victory for our program in working through the probation. Beating Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl my first season is a great memory because that assured us of a winning record that season. Another highlight at Ole Miss was when we won the first ever Motor City Bowl after we spent two seasons on probation. We beat a very good Marshall team, which had Chad Pennington at quarterback and Randy Moss at wide receiver. When we first came to Auburn, we were way behind Alabama as far as talent and I thought we would struggle with that series, but we are 4-2 in my six years.

AFCA: What did it mean to you to earn all of those Coach of the Year Awards?

TT: Well, I have been in this business for 28 years, 24 in college, and this year has been a whirlwind. I have known coaches that have won these awards and I would just wonder how good it must feel. I have been fortunate to accept a few of these awards before and I know how important the team concept is when you win something like this. This is not an individual award, it is an award for the whole team because it doesn't just take a quarterback, line-backer or one assistant to make every work, it takes everybody doing their very best to make a team successful. It has been a thrill for me to accept these awards.
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Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Article Type:Interview
Date:May 1, 2005
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