Tommy Tuberville Leaving the Big 12 for the Big East Is Insane, Right?

Lisa HornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 10, 2012

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the pony rides on the 2012 coaching carousel, Tommy Tuberville's has been the strangest.

In fact, his entire coaching journey has been strange.

Once the head coach of Mississippi (1995-98), Tuberville was named the 1997 SEC Coach of the Year by the AP (Jim Donnan of Georgia was also named). A few days after making his statement, "They'll have to carry me out of here in a pine box," Tuberville was hired by Auburn for the 1999 season.

In 2008, Tuberville resigned from Auburn although some fans questioned if it was a decision made entirely by the coach. After then-head coach Mike Leach was dismissed from Texas Tech, Tuberville was hired by Texas Tech in January 2010.

Tuberville finished his career at Texas Tech with an overall record of 20-17 but the 2012 season was marred by an incident caught on camera where Tuberville appeared to have struck graduate assistant coach Kevin Oliver in the head. Tuberville claimed he was trying to pull Oliver off the field and/or attempting to remove Oliver's headset.

In any case, less than a month after the incident, Tuberville resigned from Texas Tech and took the job at Cincinnati left vacant by Butch Jones. This not only shocked college football fans, but the Texas Tech athletic department, as well.


Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said he received a phone call from Cincinnati athletic director Whit Babcock at 9:15 a.m., which Hocutt let go to voicemail because he was watching his son’s soccer game.

At 10:30 a.m., Tuberville called Hocutt and said he would resign as Tech’s coach to take the same position at Cincinnati.

Hocutt was caught off guard.

“As recently as yesterday (Tuberville) looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment and dedication to Texas Tech football,” Hocutt said on Saturday, “and leading this football program forward.”

One day later he was gone, inking a five-year contract with Cincinnati."


The story also noted that Tuberville's wife, Suzanne, "is from Guilford, Ind., about 30 miles from Cincinnati."

As all husbands can tell you, when the wife is happy, everyone is happy. In March of last year, however, Tuberville's happiness was questioned when the SportsbyBrooks facebook page indicated that he was "miserable" in Lubbock. 

Tuberville refuted that report, but even's David Ubben addressed possible conflicts that Tuberville was feeling over his job at Texas Tech.

"Would anyone be shocked if Tuberville left for an opportunity that he felt better fit him?" Ubben wrote. "Certainly not. But I don't believe Tuberville is a coach actively looking for a way out of Lubbock."

Going from the SEC to the Big 12 to the Big East seems like career suicide, doesn't it?

If Tuberville was miserable in Lubbock—and let's face it, even Leach had issues with some of the school's administrators toward the end of his tenure—then why not take a higher profile position at one of the other schools' vacancies?

Tuberville is 58 years old so it's not like he's too old for the game. He was born in Camden, Arkansas and spent all of his childhood there as well graduating from Southern Arkansas University. Yet Tuberville never was hired to replace John L. Smith at Arkansas.

Moreover, Tuberville expressed no interest in the Arkansas job—according to, he didn't want to move his family again.

"We’re happy here," Tuberville told Mike Graham. "We’re excited. When I came here I wanted Tucker and Troy to both graduate here. I’m tired of moving them around."


So Tuberville didn't want to take a job in his home state—which also happened to have a vacancy at an SEC school—because he didn't want to move them from Texas to Arkansas, but he did want to take a job farther away in Cincinnati with a Big East school to boot?

It sounds insane but perhaps Tuberville is tired of the politicking and pressure of the SEC and Big 12. Heck, Boise State head coach Chris Petersen has been courted by plenty of elite schools but seems content in Boise. 

There's something to be said for coaching jobs at lower-profile schools. 

There's also something to be said for keeping the wife happy.