Tommy Tuberville has revitalized Auburn’s tradition-rich program and guided the Tigers back among the nation’s elite during his tenure as head coach.
As Tuberville enters his fifth season, the level of excitement and anticipation among the Auburn faithful are at an all-time high, proof that the Tigers’ head coach has been successful in rebuilding and energizing the Auburn program.
The season before Tuberville’s arrival, Auburn finished with a dismal 3-8 overall record and a last place finish in the SEC Western Division. In four seasons, Tuberville guided the program back to the top of the league standings, leading auburn to three consecutive Western Division titles including an outright championship in 2000 and co-championships in 2001 and 2002. Under his direction, the Tigers have made three consecutive bowl appearances including two New Year’s Day bowl appearances in three years. Auburn has also finished ranked among the nation’s top 20 in two of the last three seasons.
In 2002, Tuberville accomplished perhaps his most masterful coaching feat. His Tigers, picked to finish near the bottom of the league standings, overcame an injury to leading rusher Carnell Williams at the midpoint of the season to win five of their last six games including three wins over top-ten opponents. Auburn concluded the season with a 9-4 record and consecutive victories over ninth-ranked Alabama and 10th-ranked Penn State in the Capital One Bowl. Auburn defeated Alabama 17-7 in Tuscaloosa despite not having the services of running back Ronnie Brown who was a 1000-yard rusher for the Tigers in 2002.
Time and time again during the season, when prognosticators counted the Tigers out, Tuberville and his Auburn team responded with huge wins en route to finishing the year with a number 14 national ranking, its highest since 1997.
When Tuberville arrived at Auburn, he told a packed room of media and fans at his opening press conference, “Auburn is the kind of place where you can win championships and we plan on doing just that.”
In his second season, he delivered on the promise, guiding the Tigers to a SEC Western Division title and a 9-4 record including an undefeated 7-0 mark at home. Auburn played in the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl, its first New Year’s Day Bowl game since 1995 and finished the season with a No. 18 ranking by the Associated Press.
In 2001, Tuberville lead Auburn to its second division title as the Tigers tied for the SEC Western Division Championship. He accomplished the feat with a team that had lost over 90 percent of its offense and was comprised of over 70 percent of freshmen and sophomores.
Tuberville began building the foundation for success in his first season at Auburn. Although the Tigers finished with a 5-6 record in 1999, Tuberville revived excitement in the Auburn football program through his coaching style which includes fake field goals, fake punts, reverses and other trick plays. He was also instrumental in uniting factions within the Auburn community.
Progress and growth have been the staples in Tuberville’s five seasons at Auburn. Always with an eye to the future, he has spearheaded efforts to upgrade and improve Auburn’s football facilities. Since Tuberville took over the program in November, 1998, the Tigers have seen their stadium locker room rebuilt making it one of the finest game-day facilities in the country. An assembly center and the Tiger Walk Plaza were completed in time for the 2001 season. And, a 14,000 square foot weight room and a state-of-the-art training rehabilitation facility was completed in 2001.
Tuberville understands the process and commitment it takes to build a successful program. Coaching stops at perennial college football powers University of Miami and Texas A&M and a four-year head coaching stint at the University of Mississippi gave him the background in building and maintaining a successful program. While at Ole Miss from 1995-98, Tuberville posted a 25-20 record. Inheriting a Rebel program plagued by NCAA sanctions and probation, he guided Ole Miss to a winning record in his first season in 1995, despite having just 61 players on scholarship. He did not have a full compliment of scholarship players to work with in any of his four years at Ole Miss.
By the time he had three recruiting classes under his belt, Tuberville led Ole Miss to an 8-4 mark and a victory in the inaugural Motor City Bowl in 1997. His efforts earned him Associated Press SEC Coach of the Year Honors and American Football Quarterly magazine selected him as runner-up for its Schutt Sports Coach of the Year honor.
“You can’t be around the Southeastern Conference over the last several years and not be impressed with the job Tommy Tuberville has done at Ole Miss,” Auburn athletic director David Housel said after Tuberville’s hiring. "At a time when most expected the Ole Miss program to be down due to scholarship sanctions, he not only kept the program competitive, he won.
“Tommy is one of the most sought after young coaches in America,” Housel said. “We are extremely happy he is coming here to build on our tradition and establish Auburn as a football power into the next century.”
Prior to becoming head coach at Ole Miss, Tuberville served as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Texas A&M for one season. In 1994, he helped lead the Aggies to a 10-0-1 record and No. 8 final ranking by the Associated Press. Under his direction, the Aggie defense finished fourth nationally in scoring defense (13.1 ppg), fifth in total defense (265.5 ypg) and sixth in rushing defense (92.4 ypg).
Tuberville served as a member of the University of Miami staff for eight seasons from 1986-93, taking over as defensive coordinator in 1993.
While serving on the staffs of Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson at Miami, Tuberville was a defensive coach on teams which won three national championships, posted an 87-9 record and played in nine consecutive New Year's Day bowls.
As defensive coordinator for the Hurricanes in 1993, Tuberville directed a Miami defense which was ranked No. 3 nationally in scoring defense (12.6 ppg) and No. 5 nationally in pass defense (91.15 ypg).
Tuberville began his collegiate coaching career at Arkansas State in 1980, coaching various segments of the Indians’ defense over the next five seasons. During a five-year stay at Arkansas State, Tuberville coached defensive backs, noseguards and linebackers. During his final year at ASU, the Indians advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs.
He began his coaching career at Hermitage (Ark.) High School where he spent two years as an assistant and two as a head coach. After three straight four-win seasons, Tuberville guided HHS to a 7-3 mark in 1979 before moving to Arkansas State.
A 1976 graduate of Southern Arkansas University, Tuberville was a letterman at free safety and a two-year member of the golf team at SAU. He is a 1972 graduate of Harmony Grove High School in Camden, Ark.
Tuberville is married to the former Suzanne Fette of Guilford, Ind. They are the parents of two sons, Thomas Tucker (9) and Troy Allen (7).
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