Why Tommy Tuberville is sort of like Sid Gillman

You have to have love stories like this one, regarding how former Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville sneaked out of Lubbock in the middle of the night to take the Cincinnati job. Well, it wasn’t really the middle of the night. No, it was during the middle of dinner.

Via my CBSSports.com colleague Chip Patterson:

[Texas Tech recruit Davonte] Danzey, along with two other prospects — lineman Sunny Odogwu and receiver Javess Blue — and “eight to 10” coaches went to dinner last weekend as part of Danzey’s official visit to Texas Tech. Tuberville was included in the group, but according to the offensive line prospect, the former Red Raiders’ coach did not finish his meal with the group.

“The waitress brought our food out, and we thought (Tuberville) went to the bathroom, but he never came back to dinner,” Danzey told 247Sports.com. “The next thing I know, the next day, he made an announcement that he’s going to Cincinnati.” …

According to Danzey, Tuberville dodged questions early in the dinner regarding how long he planned to be at Texas Tech.

Now, people might decry the way Tuberville left the program (here’s hoping one of his coaches that night picked up the dinner tab, at least), and I know people in Cincinnati are still upset at the way Brian Kelly left the Bearcats program for Notre Dame and with how Butch Jones left for Tennessee (though neither was as dastardly as Tuberville’s process).

But believe me, this kind of deception has been going on forever. Like, with … oh, I don’t know … Sid Gillman in 1954 when he left Cincinnati to take the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams job. From my biography on Sid:

“I was interested in pro football. Most college coaches aren’t interested. They are two entirely different games,” Gillman said. “But while I was interested in the game, I was more interested in California. When I flew into Chicago, there was a hell of a snow storm and that kind of renewed my California dream.”

The Rams offered $25,000 a year and the promise of sunshine year-round. How could Gillman turn that down? When Esther[, Sid’s wife] heard the offer, she exclaimed, “$25,000! What are we going to do with all that money?” And so, they went.

Gillman, though, couldn’t help but burn some of the bridges he had built so sturdily in Cincinnati. The same way he denied he was leaving West Point for the Bearcats until he actually got on the plane, Gillman said he would not leave Cincinnati. And the story goes that in one of the final days of his tenure, Gillman was meeting with boosters when he was called away to the phone. When he returned, he said, “Gentlemen, I’m here to stay. I’ll continue at UC indefinitely and put this program where I want it.” Thirty minutes later, he received another phone call. After that one, he returned to the group and said, “Gentlemen, I’ve just accepted a job as head coach of the Rams.”

Arguably, Sid’s version is worse than Tuberville’s, but at least he showed his face one last time before leaving. And at least Sid had the decency to make a funny story out of it.

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