Most of us only know Texas Tech head football coach Tommy Tuberville on a Saturday sideline, so it might surprise you to learn he's made several trips overseas to meet the military. Or to find out he corresponds with some of the troops: one in particular, a man from Alabama.
"It's been a good relationship [with the troops], I've made a lot of new friends,"said the second year head man. "Jody Fuller being one of those, he's a big Auburn fan."
"Everybody knows he's a great man, and a lot of my friends- huge Auburn Tiger fans - are huge fans and supporters of coach Tuberville," said former Army 2nd lieutenant Fuller."
The two met on one of Tuberville's trips to the Middle East. Now a Captain in the Alabama National Guard, Fuller was deployed in 2004 - the year the Tigers went undefeated.
"I've been active duty for the majority of my career, I'm in the [National] Guard now, but when I was off in Washington state and Iraq he sent me a few things," Captain Fuller said minutes before boasting his memorabilia in front of the camera. "I sent him, in return, a coin that had Auburn on one side and Operation Iraqi freedom on the other side...also one that had Texas Tech on it.
"So in return [Tuberville] sent me an autographed flag, so he's always been real supportive of me, as well as the troops in general," said Fuller.
Coach Tuberville's brought those military values back to Lubbock, participating in last year's Wounded Warrior Project game against Missouri; in which the Red Raiders beat a 17-point favorite Tiger team after being around three real-life wounded warriors all week in practice.
It brought a team atmosphere with our team that I didn't see all year long," Tuberville said of the win over 12th-ranked Missouri. "There's not doubt that because of what happened that week and those guys being around, it helped us win that game. We beat Missouri pretty handily."
It's that type of relationship built through sacrifice, glorified on the gridiron that truly makes sports special.
"Our troops sacrifice so much for our freedom here. If we can give just a little bit back, give a little big back of what they give, in terms of support to us, it means a lot," said Tuberville.
"The Red Raider nation is definitely in Alabama now," said Fuller with his thumb and pointed finger up. "I'm an Auburn man all the way; however, I got to say, 'Guns Up!'"
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