Ode to the Riverboat Gambler – Tommy Tuberville

Photo Credit - Getty Images

Photo Credit – Getty Images

Why is Tommy Tuberville the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats?  Why would a boy from Camden, Arkansas move house and home away from the recruiting mecca of Texas to the Midwest?  In a word, respect. 

He never got his due at his last stop, Texas Tech.  At Tech, he inherited a program from Mike Leach, who was universally revered in Lubbock.  Leach was a tough act for Tuberville to follow.

Leach liked to throw the ball around the field.  The entire game.  And didn’t care much for defense.  Tuberville, on the other hand, wanted to bring a strong defensive philosophy to accompany that pedal-to-the-metal offensive style.  Yet, Tuberville was never fully accepted.  Or respected.

He will be respected here if he wins and stays.  But he’ll have to do both. 

So far, he’s done nothing but upgrade UC’s talent pool through recruiting.  He has a very strong coaching (X’s and O’s) resume, having coached under Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson at Miami.  He also won way more than he lost as the head coach of Mississippi, Auburn, and Texas Tech.  While coaching the Ole’ Miss Rebels, he earned the nickname the “Riverboat Gambler” for his aggressive play calling, particularly on 4th down. 

Aside from coaching prowess, if you’ve spent any extended time with him, you know he’s very likeable.  Because of that, I imagine it’d be hard to turn him down in your living room, assuming you’re a 3 or 4-star recruit.  He’s got a charm and a polish that’s seldom seen in the Midwest.  People here dig the accent and well-coiffed hair.  That may not have been all that unique in Texas; it’s a revolution in Ohio. 

Tuberville will turn 60 years old this fall.  He has family roots in this area.  Tuberville’s wife, Suzanne, is from southeastern Indiana.  If Tuberville can continue to build the football tradition this year, he’ll be poised for one of these soon enough…

Up Close O

In other words, if he spends the remainder of his coaching years building UC into a football juggernaut, they’ll hire the artist.  If he gets UC into one of the so-called “power” conferences, they’ll select the stone.  If he gets UC into the playoff (or they sneak into the national championship game) in the next couple of years, they’ll start chiseling. 

If he stays, the Bearcat faithful will not only respect him; they will immortalize his likeness on the campus.  And that’s no exaggeration.