Fans tuning into the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry may wonder what’s up with the new decal on the Tigers’ helmet: The decal is a tribute to Auburn’s athletic academic director Virgil Starks, who passed away suddenly last Saturday.
Auburn players will honor former Athletic Academic Director Virgil Starks with this decal against Georgia.
"Virgil has been like a second father to all these guys,'' Tuberville said. "He was actually closer to them a lot of times than we are as coaches.''
Tuberville noted that, because of his position, Starks actually spent more time with the players than the coaches.
"He was around them a lot more in study halls, sitting down in meetings, talking about different things other than X's and O's, talking about life, what they have to do to get their degree and how to handle themselves,'' Tuberville said. "He was a personal mentor to all these players.“
According to Tuberville, Starks’ loss has not been easy for the players.
“It's been tough on them,” Tuberville said. “It really has. It's an emotional situation when people are in your lives every day like your mother, father, brother or sister. That is how close this relationship is, and all of a sudden one minute he is here and the next minute he's not.”
Tuberville said that Starks stressed the importance of academics.
"He was a stern guy,” Tuberville said. “A lot of them come here and think that the first thing they want to do is be good football players. The first thing he wants them to understand is that they are going to be better people and get degrees.”
"I thought he did a great job,” Tuberville said. “He was very close to the players.”
*Main photo courtesy of Todd Van Emst/Auburn University