On a warm afternoon last week, two prominent head coaches weren’t in the film room or on the football field.
South Alabama’s Joey Jones was cruising down I-65, dialing numbers on his cell phone in order to pass the six-hour drive home from an all-star game in Huntsville.
Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville was standing in his office, black marker in hand, methodically signing hundreds of footballs piled into a huge cardboard box. He multi-tasked by simultaneously conducting an interview with a reporter and then waiving in a visiting recruit.
Jones is starting a new program from scratch, while Tuberville is in his 10th season at Auburn. But both have prospered in the football-mad Southeast, where off-the-field duties drain as much time as X’s and O’s, and a coach’s public relations skills are as important as ever.
The elbow-rubbing and glad-handling is an essential part of the summer at camps, banquets and booster clubs. In the SEC, media savvy becomes paramount today when the league’s annual Media Days in Hoover begin.
Even when the season kicks off a month from now, head coaches still will contend with numerous off-the-field responsibilities.