Former Ole Miss football coach running for U.S. Senate in Alabama

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BY RICK CLEVELAND

JACKSON, Miss. (MISSISSIPPI TODAY) – So I am trying to wrap my arms around the fact former Ole Miss football coach Tommy Tuberville, who hails from Arkansas and recently has lived on the beach in Florida, might well be the next U.S. Senator from Alabama.

Turns out, my arms are not nearly long enough.

Polls show Tuberville leading Jeff Sessions, whom he faces in a July 14 Republican primary runoff. The winner will be favored to defeat incumbent Doug Jones. Nothing – in football or politics – is certain, but Tuberville, who won 25 games and lost 20 at Ole Miss in his four seasons from 1995-98, is the clear favorite to become Senator Tuberville.

The guess here is that the average Mississippi football fan could not have told you Tuberville’s Ole Miss record before reading that last sentence. But the average fan could certainly tell you the circumstances of Tuberville’s departure from Oxford.

For weeks during the fall of 1998, rumors had circulated that Tuberville was headed to Auburn. For weeks, Tuberville denied the rumors. He looked directly into the eyes of sports writers, one of whom was me, and said this: “They’ll have to carry me out of here in a pine box.”

Two days later, he stepped onto a private jet, sent from Auburn, and took the job after all. Turns out, no pine box was required, although many Ole Miss fans would have gladly provided.

“I’m a Rebel at heart,” he had told us. “I want to be where people want you, where you have a chance to win, where your players are giving all they can and where it’s a great place to live. That’s exactly what we have here in Oxford.”

As former Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone says, “Tommy always did have the gift of gab.”

Often, politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth. Tuberville has that part down pat. And he has for a long time. As one of his best Ole Miss players told me recently, “Tubs was always a politician.”

You can read the full article on Mississippi Today’s website.

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