David Marshall: Coach Tommy Tuberville

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—He prefers to be called “coach” despite being the senior U.S. Senator for Alabama. Even on his official Senate website, he is called “Coach Tommy Tuberville.” Tommy Tuberville spent most of his professional career as a college football coach with stints at the University of Mississippi, Auburn University, and then the University of Cincinnati. He most notably spent 10 years at Auburn, where he compiled an overall record of 85-40, including a 13-0 season in 2004. During the undefeated season, the Auburn Tigers finished No. 2 in the nation while winning the SEC title for the first time in 15 years. The SEC is distinctive in college football with its passionate fan base throughout the South.

An undefeated season in the SEC can easily propel a coach to idol status in the eyes of loyal fans. Tiger fans are well known for their deep-seated investment and devotion to the orange and blue. But fans can become fickle when the tide turns and the losing sets in. Amid losing, the one-time hero becomes the scapegoat. During the 2008 football season, the Tigers were routed 36-0 by in-state rival Alabama, thus ending the season with a 5-7 record. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide officially became the football kings in Alabama, and it was time for Auburn and Tuberville to part ways.

Those deeply familiar with Auburn football would agree that the school’s decision to move on from Tommy Tuberville was the right move to make. Fast forward, those who care deeply about our nation and are wary of the MAGA agenda saw Tuberville’s Senate election as politically dangerous. More so than having six more years of Jeff Sessions. Today, the Trump-endorsed “coach” is the sole member of the U.S. Senate who continues to wreak havoc with our nation’s armed forces readiness at a time of global chaos. When Tuberville defeated Democrat incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, he had no prior legislative experience, nor did he hold any elected office.

The same is true of Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona, but both men have since served the Senate with competence and integrity. While Tuberville’s ethics and qualifications are in question, the SEC football fans in the Alabama electorate may see the former iconic hero differently. Does it matter to Alabama voters that Tuberville’s current residency in Florida may violate the Constitution, which requires senators to be “an inhabitant” of their state when elected? The Washington Post reported that his wife and son co-owned the Auburn, Alabama, address Tuberville listed when he declared his candidacy for Senate. The Post’s review of campaign finance reports, and Tuberville’s signature on property documents indicate that his home is a $3 million, 4,000-square-foot beach house in Santa Rosa Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Tuberville has lived in the Florida home for nearly two decades.

At present, Coach Tuberville has single-handily blocked the Senate confirmation of over 370 senior military officers in his personal protest of a Department of Defense policy that offers travel reimbursements to military members who may need to travel to obtain reproductive healthcare or abortions. The fallout remains widespread because impacted people have no say over the policy. Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly, a former naval aviator who flew 39 combat missions in the Gulf War, has been Tuberville’s most outspoken critic. In an op-ed, Kelly condemned Tuberville’s blockade and spoke of how it adversely affected many military families. “Tuberville is treating our service members and their families as political pawns,” Kelly wrote. “For six months, he’s been blocking the promotion of every general and flag officer in the U.S. military. That’s 301 military positions and counting. Let that sink in.” Tuberville has not backed down, and now Republicans are finally getting louder in voicing their frustration. Republican Rep. Jen Kiggans from Virginia doesn’t like the Pentagon policy but said Tuberville should make his point differently. Kiggans has heard from service members and their spouses who are frustrated to the point of wanting to leave the military permanently.

During his college football career, Coach Tuberville may have made critical decisions that ultimately impacted his team’s inability to win ball games. It is not uncommon for coaches to be held accountable when their coaching decisions, including those from their staff, result in losing seasons. In reality, Coach Tuberville is no longer a football coach but a sitting U.S. Senator with tremendous political power—a power he chooses to abuse. When Tuberville uses bad judgment and is unwilling to see the consequences of his recklessness, it is not a football game he is losing.

So far, Tuberville has not received the backlash he deserves from Republican voters back home. Auburn fans are so passionate about their football that Coach Tuberville would no longer have a job if consistent losing on the football field resulted from his decisions. Put the same coach in the U.S. Senate, and if his bad judgment and decisions resulted in the entire U.S. military being compromised, those same fans back home would give him a smile and a pat on the back.  

(David W. Marshall is the founder of the faith-based organization, TRB: The Reconciled Body, and author of the book God Bless Our Divided America. He can be reached at www.davidwmarshallauthor.com.)




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