Auburn, Ala.-- Wednesday’s news that Tommy Tuberville would no longer be the coach at Auburn University took many by surprise. None more than former Auburn defensive standouts Travaris Robinson and Travis Williams. Both players talked about their memories and thoughts on Tuberville and the entire Auburn staff.
“It’s a sad day for Auburn,” Robinson said. “Coach Tuberville brought me in for the 1999 season. He made me into what I am today. It’s just a sad day for Auburn. We had our good times and bad times there. I just wish Coach Tuberville the best. I sent him a text message to wish him and his family the best. We’ve just got to move on from here.”
Williams has similar feelings about his former coach. As a player from South Carolina, Williams came to cherish the Iron Bowl rivalry with Alabama and what it meant for the Auburn team. He said while that game wasn’t pretty last weekend, he didn’t think it or the season was enough to see Tuberville gone.
“The Alabama game did look bad with the way we lost, but when you beat someone six times in a row and you lose one year...There’s an old saying, ‘What have you done for me lately?’ It was a bad year, but he was due for one year.
"I’ve got the utmost respect for Coach Tuberville and the coaching staff because they gave me an opportunity and made me the man I am and why I’ve gotten to meet the people I’ve met. You never want to see someone get fired or whatever the situation is. I just think they pulled the trigger too soon.”
One of the biggest things Tuberville did when arriving at Auburn was to establish discipline back into a program that had suffered in that department under Terry Bowden. Both Robinson and Williams said that was one of the biggest things that attracted them to Auburn and something that has helped them grow as men since they’ve moved on.
“I am using the same stuff and the same things he used to always tells us,” Robinson said. “He would tell us about not being invincible and I use things like that with my kids today. I got the rare opportunity to do things with Coach Tuberville that a lot of players don’t get to do with their head coaches. We played golf together. I went to his house. We have some great memories. He’s done a lot for my career. He’s done a lot for me becoming a man. I’m just grateful for that.”
Williams added to Robinson’s comments when talking about guys doing the right things and staying out of trouble.
“One thing you can look at is that he always recruited guys that already had that instilled in them,” Williams said. “If you don’t, then he’d try to mold them into young men doing the right things in the community. We always had things going on in the community, going to the YMCA, speaking to kids, autograph signings.
"At the same time it’s the fans that come watch us play, so you want to be in the community doing the right things. He never made us, but he encouraged us to give to the community and especially doing the right things. His main thing was ‘be on time’ and ‘do what you’re told to do.’ That was his rule.”
Another rule from Tuberville and his staff was to get an education. While every player who came through during his 10 years didn’t receive a degree, Williams said it wasn’t because the staff wasn’t pushing them to do so.
“Academics were big for me coming from where I’ve come from,” Williams said. “I’m like the second person from my family to get a degree. When I got there, that’s one thing they really pushed and they had guys like Virgil Starks. They had a lot of great people that were pushing us and Coach Tuberville really emphasized education. One thing he would tell you, ‘If you come for four or five years and you don’t graduate then you’re just wasting your time. You’re just robbing yourself of an education.”
Another part of Wednesday’s news that hit Williams hard was knowing that assistant coaches such as Don Dunn and Terry Price are out of jobs, coaches he played for during his time. Williams said looking back on his years there were many guys responsible for his growth both on and off the field.
“I had Coach Whitt, a guy I loved to death,” Williams said. “He was one of the guys that made me the man I am. I love him with all of my heart. Coach Whitt isn’t coaching any more, but just to have a guy like Coach Whitt was big. I had Coach Chizik, a guy that a lot of players are still communicating with, and Coach Price, Coach Dunn, he had a good surrounding cast around him that believed in the same thing. The biggest part and the number one guy was Brother Chette. If you have a guy like Brother Chette on the team, that’s the biggest coach. That’s the best hire he ever had was Brother Chette.
"He had a guy there like Brother Chette that could show you the right path. If you’re not a Christian when you get there, then you’ve got Brother Chette and nine times out of 10 you’re going to be a Christian when you leave Auburn University, and that’s a great thing.”
Robinson said one thing they can always take away is the memories they shared together. He said that’s what he’ll do when thinking about Tuberville and Auburn because unlike most he got to experience both sides of things. After his playing days at Auburn and in Atlanta with the Falcons, Robinson said coming back to coach at Auburn before moving on to Western Kentucky are moment’s he’ll treasure.
“When I got there he served as a father figure for me,” Robinson said. “It was an exciting time to play for him. It was a huge honor to coach with him. He let me into the family. He treated me like a son after I came back from college. It was a great experience for me. I learned a lot from him and the rest of the staff. I will cherish those moments the rest of my life.”
Premium Subscription Signup
Subscribe to Magazine Only
Game of My Life Auburn Book By Mark Murphy