Tuberville Makes a Political Error
By Paul Myerberg // Apr 28, 2011
As you may have heard, there’s been a bit of a political brouhaha over President Obama’s purported birth certificate; one side attests Obama was not born in America, which if true would invalidate his presidential eligibility. Without straying too far outside my comfort zone, I can say that similarly outlandish claims are the hallmark of political football, from Obama to the more recent President Bush, to Clinton, Reagan, Carter and so on. We’re used to hearing vitriol from both sides, but typically from the type of “carnival barkers” the President referenced yesterday afternoon — politicians hoping to make a mountain out of a molehill.
We’re not used to getting this talk from our athletic figures, particularly those in leadership positions — the coaches. Though we have seen some of it in the past, if you can recall: Joe Paterno opted against greeting former President Clinton when he came through State College in 2008; North Carolina’s Dean Smith made his presence felt in the state’s Democratic machine, though more after his coaching career concluded, not when he was leading the Tar Heels.
It’s still rare to see a coach speak out on political matters, much as Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville did on a Fox News’ panel on Tuesday. Tuberville weighed in on the issue of Obama’s birth certificate, saying to panel host Sean Hannity:
“Well, we’ve got enough controversy going on in this country. I don’t know why he wouldn’t just step up and say, you know, ‘Here it is.’ Obviously there’s got to be something on there that he doesn’t want anybody to see. I don’t understand it. You know, as a common American, I just don’t understand why we just go through this and I think it’s continued to divide the country.”
Alright, keep it clean. This isn’t about politics; it’s about why Tuberville, a college football coach — and a successful one at that — thought aligning himself publicly with any political cause, whether it leaned to the left or the right, would be a wise decision. Not because his views don’t matter, and not because his views automatically lack merit because he’s a football coach.
It was a poorly thought-out decision for two reasons. One, as a football coach, Tuberville is a leading representative of Texas Tech University, a public institution — and as such, should save his personal sentiments for his post-coaching career. In fact, one could very well say that Tuberville is the most recognizable public figure currently associated with the university.
Not to say that Texas Tech, as a whole, might not sympathize with Tubverille’s sentiments. It’s merely that Tuberville should not publicize his relationship with Texas Tech while being political, such as he did with a university pin on his lapel during the round table discussion; he was described as a “former Auburn coach,” however.
Two, he opens himself and his program up to negativity, which could manifest itself on the recruiting trail and in public support in and out of Lubbock. Opposing coaches have negatively recruitd using far less ammunition, I can assure you, and Tuberville’s appearance may be used against him in the future.
Because of race? Man, I hope not. Could another coach make a connection between Tubverille’s statements and race, raising the issue with a black recruit? Again, I hope not — but never say never, and this is a cutthroat business.
It would be less of a stretch for an opposing coach to simply associate Tuberville with the movement questioning Obama’s birth certificate, one viewed by the general public as involving some of society’s more — careful, careful — radical thinkers. Associating Tuberville with such a group? Well, it’s easy, and it’s potentially beneficial for a coach in direct competition with either Texas Tech or its coach.
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Tags: Texas Tech, Tommy Tuberville
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