Could Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville become Alabama’s next governor?

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The race for Alabama’s next governor might include a surprising contender: former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville.

According to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, Tuberville will likely make a decision on whether he will run in a week or two based on the results of a statewide phone poll said to involve about 50,000 people.

Alabama Republican Party chair Terry Lathan said the former coach might stand a chance given the election of President Donald Trump, while political consultant Steve French said: “Tommy would stand a slugger’s chance of getting elected.”

“Everybody wants non-politicians now,” said a person from Tuberville’s camp. “Eighty-percent of it is name recognition.”

Tuberville spent 10 seasons as Auburn’s head coach and notched an SEC conference title and undefeated season during his 2004 campaign. Since leaving the Tigers in after the 2009 season, he has served as head coach for Texas Tech and Cincinnati, where he resigned from at the end of the 2016 season.

Still, the source of Tuberville’s name recognition might be his most divisive quality when it comes to politics – especially in Alabama, one of few states where school allegiance may trump political leanings.

Fifty-eight percent of the state’s elected officials are Republican, and it’s no secret the majority of state’s fans support Alabama.

French, however, said Tuberville might be able to connect with fans of his former employer’s rival by emphasizing education.

“If you can connect with voters on an education message, that’s a big plus,” he said. “Tommy has recruited. He’s seen underprivileged youth come into his program and go out the other door and be a successful professional the rest of their life.”

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