Coach Takes on the Swamp

COMMENTARY Conservatism

Coach Takes on the Swamp

May 4, 2023 32 min read
Kevin D. Roberts, PhD


Heritage Trustee since 2023
Head coach Tommy Tuberville of the Auburn University Tigers walks on the field against the West Virginia University Mountaineers on October 23, 2008. Ned Dishman / Contributor / Getty Images

From the football field to the U.S. Senate, Coach and Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has never turned away from risk or confrontation.

The former head coach of Auburn University’s football team joins the show to share the lessons and strategies he’s bringing from his time between the goalposts to Washington, breaks down why he left the world of sports for a political career, the issues he’s taking on—from keeping radical abortion policies out of the military to protecting women's sports—and how he keeps both motivated and optimistic about America’s future.

Tommy Tuberville: Senator Schumer, four days in a row on the Senate floor, he started out with me, called me by my name and how bad a person I was and I’m holding up the military and doing this or that, but, finally, I went to the floor one day and just called him out. I said, “Hey, he forgets what I’ve done for a living. I’ve been called many, many names in front of tens of thousands of people before. It doesn’t hurt my feelings.”

Kevin Roberts: Welcome back to The Kevin Roberts Show. Every week, we are fortunate to have a great guest, some patriot, some man or woman who cares deeply about the present day and the future of America, and, of course, we have a certain dose of realism that we inject here, but, with that realism, we always want to be optimistic. The reason we’re able to do that, this is the point, is because every guest here really is making a difference, trying to widen the path forward, ahead, if you will. And so it’s a great privilege to have here with me one of the great members of the United States Senate, someone who’s become a friend since I’ve started here at Heritage, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. Thank you for being here.

Tuberville: Great. Thanks for being here. What a different person to be here. You don’t normally interview coaches in a Senate position.

Roberts: Well, as I’m sure you can relate to, when your kids were the ages of mine, I’m leaving for work today, and they said, “Dad, what you doing?” We go through the agenda and I said, “Well, I’m interviewing Coach.” Well, they all knew who that was. Even though those people watching can see the University of Texas stadium behind us, they know that we at Heritage admire you a great deal, and even though you’ve beaten my Longhorns, it’s one of those things we won’t hold against you. Most importantly, thanks for being in the Senate and being a cheerful warrior.

Tuberville: Well, thank you, and had a great career, I met a lot of wonderful people, and in sports, you meet different people that act a different way when they’re around sports. And, of course, I coached thousands of kids, met presidents, been to the White House, had a chance to be on championship teams, followed a lot of these guys through either whether they’re married or when they had kids and families or where they went to the NFL. Some great stories, some great stories from nothing to great success, and it was a fun time. There wasn’t a day I didn’t get up, now, there was a lot of pressure in it, day I didn’t get up, didn’t have fun. And I tell young people, they ask me what’s the key to success? The key to success is getting into something you really want to do, whether it’s about money ... it shouldn’t be about that. It should be about, when you get up in the morning, you look forward to taking a shower and brushing your teeth and getting to work to make a difference and enjoying what you’re doing.

Roberts: That’s a really good lesson for a lot of people in this audience, people who are not just in D.C. But around the country. Obviously, if they’re watching or listening, they care deeply about the country. They’re looking for a plan of how we move forward in terms of policy. And you and I are going to talk about policy today, but you’re from Arkansas, I’m from Louisiana, we’re going to talk a little bit about your story. You’re growing up in Arkansas. When did you realize, “I want to be a football coach?”

Tuberville: Oh, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I went to college, except I did play college football, and I wasn’t real good, but I knew, if I ever did get in coaching, I wanted to get in college. I grew up an Arkansas razorback fan. Frank Broyles was a hero of mine, he and Darrell Royal at Texas. And my biggest disappointment, maybe, as a fan, was the 1969 shootout in Fayetteville, one versus two and Texas ended up winning the game. And, as a young fan and supporter of the Arkansas Razorbacks, that’s something I hung my hat on. It took me a long time to get over that.

Roberts: Those were devastating, those losses.

Tuberville: Oh, oh, those losses. Of course, back then, there was one or two games on television, and so everybody in the world watched the game. It’s not like you have every game’s on TV now. But I had a fun childhood. My dad was a high school referee, along with being a manager of a soft drink company, and my mom worked for General Dynamics. Had a brother and sister. One was in music, my brother was in music. I went in athletics, and my sister was ... she ended up being a professor at Ohio State and now has kids and a family. And so we all went our different ways, but I enjoyed the football aspect, the athletic aspect, and that caused me to get into coaching. I got into high school for four years, but, after dealing with parents for four years, I said, “Wait a minute. This wasn’t in the deal, dealing with parents.” And I said, “I’m either going to get into college coaching or get into insurance or real estate.” And so, fortunately, I got into a GA position in college and worked my way up.

Roberts: Good lessons there. People often ask me, “Kevin,” because, as you may remember, I started a K through 12 school, ran a college, people say, “Kevin, what’s the difference between that and being in D.C. Working with politicians?” And sometimes they mean that pejoratively, not about you, and I said, “Oh, I’d much rather deal with politicians than parents of teenagers. They’re pretty territorial.”

Tuberville: Ooh, let me tell you, parents are ruthless. Most of them are great, but, when it comes to their kids, they think a lot more about them than they do about your decisions about their kids, what playing time, things such as that, and it was different. But, of course, I became a parent. Tucker, my oldest, works for Goldman Sachs now, and my youngest works for a company that’s building the hypersonic missile. He’s in cyber. And so, when they were in high school and playing, I was a coach, but I was sitting in the stands complaining about the coach not playing my boys just like everybody else.

Roberts: We’re all the same.

Tuberville: Oh, we’re all the same. You love your kids and you want the best for them.

Roberts: What was your highest high in coaching?

Tuberville: Oh, there was a lot of them.

Roberts: The Auburn year sticks out. You were undefeated.

Tuberville: Yeah, yeah. I’m going to tell you that we had big wins. I was a assistant coach at University of Miami, that was my first break, with Jimmy Johnson for 10 years. We very seldom lost a game, much less had any disappointments. And then I went from there to Texas A&M and coached against your Longhorns one year with R.C. Slocum as defensive coordinator. My first head coaching job was at Ole Miss back when they were in shambles, and I brought in a young staff, and heck, we beat some teams we weren’t supposed to beat. I took, one year, a little less than 50 players to between [inaudible 00:06:42] and Athens, Georgia, playing a pretty good football team, and we had no chance, and ended up winning the game. But you never know how the ball’s going to bounce or how your kids are going to play and how they’re going to stand up to tough competition.

But, oh, I won national championships, won conference championships, National Coach of the Year, but it all goes back to the relationship with the players that we’d built. But seeing the success of kids like Ray Lewis, we were talking about him earlier, from Lakeland, Florida, recruited Ray. He had a mom, but didn’t have a dad. He lived in a tough situation in Lakeland, Florida, and nobody else recruited him. He was undersized and all that. And they ended up recruiting him and he ended up being a Hall of Fame NFL player.

But you never know how they’re going to turn out. It just depends on, not really a lot about athletic ability, ray wasn’t the most athletic guy, but it’s about heart. And, if you put heart into what you have and the ball bounces away for you some and you just keep pushing and grinding, to a certain point, you can have some success. It might be a little success, it might be a lot of success, but you’ll never realize that unless you have that work ethic. And that’s what I think, in a lot of areas today, that we’re missing with a lot of our kids is work ethic.

Roberts: Well, and you got to have, whether you’re a coach or a teacher or a parent, remember, that human element, that heart of a teacher, that we all have our attributes and our character flaws, and it seems as if being a football coach in this era is one where you had a lot of opportunity to touch lives. And so that leads me to the question. That’s fulfilling, and you had, truly, a great career. I would say that if you weren’t sitting here, if you weren’t a friend of Heritage, and then you decide you’re going to go from that to politics. Why?

Tuberville: What a curveball, right?

Roberts: Yeah, that’s right.

Tuberville: Well, my dad was military and I’d go with him some on maneuvers as a young kid. He taught me to love the country, along with my mom. And, again, she worked at General Dynamics. She worked on the Sparrow Missile. For years and years, that’s all she did was work in General Dynamics and help build for the military. I grew a passion for military. And, of course, as I grew up, as a young person, you don’t realize how much you should be grateful for the country that we’re in, but then it gives you the opportunity, once you get out of high school and college or start your way up, you can start realizing, hey, this is a pretty good place we live in. Even though most of us in this country, we don’t leave our borders very often.

Some people have the opportunity to do that, but not at a young age, and so you have to figure that out yourself. But my dad was in the military all his life. At age 53, he died on active duty. At age 17, he landed at Utah Beach, Normandy, and drove a tank across Europe, five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. But, that being said, it was instilled in me the type of country we grew up in. The opportunities for a young kid ... we didn’t have any money, ended up being National Coach of the Year in major college football, winning national championships. Somebody gave me that opportunity, and it was the people in this country over the 247 years that this country has been built that give us that opportunity.

When I decided enough was enough in coaching, I was at Cincinnati and I told my wife, “It’s time to move back South and start enjoying,” and I did. I played a lot of golf. I worked for ESPN some, but I was home quite a bit. And, one day, my wife walked by the couch where I was sitting and reading the paper early in the morning, we get up early, and I was drinking coffee. And she goes, “For the last 30 years, this has been my house and nobody’s been here but me, and I need you to go get you a job.” And so I started looking around and thinking about politics.

And I looked at the situation in Alabama where we had a Democratic senator that we hadn’t had in a long time, and I said, “It’s time for me to give back.” I wasn’t in the military, the rest of my family was, and this is a way, at my age, I can get back to the country is try to go help, because I’ve seen our country the way it is in the last 15, 20 years in way of education, which is not very good. And so I decided to run. Now that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, this campaign. For two years ... of course, as a coach, you’re relentless. You’re not going to let people beat you. I treated it like a game. I went to two or three places, stops a day. In Alabama, I ate at every Waffle House and Cracker Barrel for lunch or breakfast. I bought meals for people, talked to them about politics. Of course, me being a coach, that got me in the door. And so I did it for two years. And, fortunately, it worked out for me and we won.

Roberts: Any Tide fans give you trouble?

Tuberville: Yeah. Yeah.

Roberts: That’s serious business in Alabama.

Tuberville: Oh, let me tell you something, it’s life or death in Alabama, the Iron Bowl, auburn playing Alabama, and my success there. I won seven out of 10, six in a row. I went through five coaches. And my response to them, when I’d go to a meeting of 50, 100, 150, I’d let them ask questions. And, early on, I’d have these Alabama Crimson Tide fans, “Coach, you stuck fingers in our face in terms of thumbs and counting down how many you beat us in a row. Why, after you did that to Alabama fans, why should I vote for you?” And I said, “Well,” I said, “I went through five Alabama coaches because of how many I won, and because of that, I’m responsible for getting Nick Saban to Alabama,” and-

Roberts: What a great response.

Tuberville: ... yes, and they all hung on to it, and heck, I got more Alabama votes than I did Auburn, because Alabama’s a true American state still. We’ve still got some wackos in that state that are over the top, but most people in that state still love the country and love God, love family, love the Constitution, and still live day to day by their values. And I guess I’m just fortunate to represent them up here because I really believe in America.

Roberts: Well, that’s obvious. And, when you and I first met, you had recently been sworn in, and this is during the aftermath of the 2020 election, a lot of questions about that, and one of the things you mentioned in that first time we talked, and we talked a lot of football, was that you didn’t come up here to nibble around the edges. And I am enough of a football fanatic to know that, as a play caller, you’re willing to take risks and, here, take risks based on principle. You’re in the news right now for a lot of good things, Coach. The one that Heritage has been celebrating a lot, will celebrate all the great policy you want to advance, is what the left calls you holding up some Pentagon appointments, from your vantage point, from our vantage point, on the basis of protecting babies. And so I just want to give you the opportunity, for our audience, to explain your rationale, explain the state of play right now on that issue.

Tuberville: Well, I’m pro-life, and I-

Roberts: Good place to start.

Tuberville: ... yeah, and I believe in God, and I believe that kids should have the opportunity to grow up in this great country. But, when you look at the situation that we’re in right now, it’s not as much about abortion, and that’s been a huge topic ever since I’ve been here now. Of course, the Dobbs decision Roe Wade going back to the states, and of course, all the Democrats, “They’re doing away with abortion.” All the Supreme Court said was, “We’re going to let you vote on it.” Well, what an idea. Let’s move it back to the states and let people vote to see whether you want abortion or not in your state. Does that not make sense? But they’re trying to circumvent any way now, the federal government is and the White House, this administration’s trying to go around every angle to try to figure out ways to have more abortions.

And my first one was the VA, and I’m on the Veterans Committee, and the VA, 30 years ago, was voted on by the Democrats. They brought it up and said, “Hey, we’re not going to allow abortion in the VA.” Well, guess who voted for that? Joe Biden. It was unanimous 30 years ago. It’s a law. And so, the VA, a few months ago decided, after Dobbs, that, “Hey, we’re going to start doing abortions in the VA.” I said, “Well, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. We’re going to turn into a dictatorship here.” That’s what we were turning into. Joe Biden is deciding on his own that we’re going to do abortions in the VA, and so I fought that.

The next thing was the Department of Defense have decided that, to circumvent Roe Wade, we’re going to have more abortions in the military. And we couldn’t get a briefing. This last summer, it was going on, we started hearing rumblings that the Department of Defense was going to change the policy, and which you can’t do that. It’s got to go through Congress, but they could care less about-

Roberts: Imagine that.

Tuberville: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s just a small part of it. We’re not going to worry about that little factor. And so, finally, in November, we convinced the Department of Defense to come by and give us a briefing, and they did. And I’m going, “Wait a minute, right now, we already have an abortion policy. Rape, incest, and health of the mom, three factors that they can have abortions in the military, and so it’s been that way for years. Nobody’s complained. It’s not been any problem whatsoever. Taxpayers are not funding it. And so it ended up a good policy.” And so they said, “Well, we’re just going to change that policy. We’re going to have abortion at any time, and we’re going to allow the mom to fly anywhere they want to have the abortion, then give them three weeks paid leave off, and that doesn’t come out of their healthcare allowance. And, oh, by the way, we’re going to allow their dependents to have abortions too.”

Roberts: And we, the taxpayer, get to pay for this.

Tuberville: Yes. And so I’ve thrown that out there, and I wrote a letter to Secretary Austin, Secretary of Defense, “Listen, I see what you’re going to do. I’ve had the briefing. We’re not going to allow that to happen. Last time I looked, you weren’t elected to Congress. We were. That’s our job. And you’re not going to use taxpayer money because that goes against the Hyde Amendment. Hyde Amendment says No taxpayer money for abortion.” And I said, “Now, if you do this, I’m going to put a hold on all your generals and admirals.”

Well, February the 8th, they come out with a new policy. They went along with it. And so, when they did that, we put a hold on it ever since, and, man, have they been complaining. But it just doesn’t make sense in our country that we’re turning into a dictatorship from the White House, from this administration, when the people all around the country voted us in. Now, if they want to do this, let’s put a lock on that Capitol over there and all go home and let’s turn into Europe or Canada where they’re just basically turning into socialism and a dictatorship and letting them do what they want to do. Let us have a say or let’s just go home and save the taxpayers money of having a Congress.

Roberts: Well, and what I love about that explanation, in addition to the fact that it’s true, is that someone could say, “I don’t care as much about the abortion issue right now as Kevin and Coach Tuberville do, but I’d certainly care about the principal that Senator Tuberville’s protecting,” which is that Congress should do what Congress does, whatever the issue is. And we got to get out of the habit of the executive branch just lording over the legislative branch, that Congress isn’t the first article of the Constitution for a reason.

Tuberville: Exactly. And, if they want to rule from the White House, let’s just do away with it, because our job is to come up here and do the laws. And, like I said, they’ve had these two abortion policies, one in the VA, now one in the Department of Defense, and it’s all caused by the Supreme Court decision of sending abortion back to the states, all because of that. If that’d not have happened, they never would’ve said anything. But they’re legislating from the White House, they’re spending taxpayer money breaking the law, but that makes no difference to them. They are the boss, basically, and they’re going to do what they want to do. And they have no oversight, because this media’s not going to hold them them accountable. The media we have in this country is absolutely awful.

Roberts: It’s terrible, and most of the members of the media based in D.C. Who cover Congress and the White House, of course, aligned against you and Heritage when it comes to the pro-life issue generally, this particular stance of yours. And I’ve been chuckling for the last several weeks because they think you’re going to fold. What are the chances of that, Tommy Tuberville?

Tuberville: Well, when this started, Senator Schumer, who I don’t know him that well, I’ve never talked to him. Think about it, I’ve been here two and a half years-

Roberts: You’re not his kind of guy.

Tuberville: ... and I’m 99 of the senators. But, if I’m the head coach and there’s kids that I might not really like on my team, I’m still going to try to talk to them and build a relationship because I might need them someday.

Roberts: If the shoe were on the other foot, you would know him, right?

Tuberville: Yeah, right. But I’ve never talked to him. And, four days in a row on the Senate floor, he started out with me, calling me by my name and how bad a person I was and I’m holding up the military and doing this or that and I’m self-righteous and all these things that he’s calling me, but, finally, I went to the floor one day and just called him out. I said, “Hey, he forgets what I’ve done for a living. I’ve been called many, many names in front of tens of thousands of people before. It doesn’t hurt my feelings. But that’s a game. This is for real here.” I’m even that much more adamant that I’m going to stand by my principles and the morals of this country and allow the people that’s been elected to make these decisions, and not people that have been appointed, like the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State.

Those people never got a single vote. But they’re not going to run Congress. And, again, it’s not much about abortion. It is, but it’s not. It’s more about just overriding the taxpayer and spending their money on something that they’re not supposed to. VA, for instance, the VA is not equipped to do abortions, plus they have many, many doctors and nurses in the VAs that don’t believe in it. And so now you’re going to force people to do things that they don’t want to do because of their faith, and that’s not right. That’s not what this country’s about.

Roberts: Yeah. Then the repercussions of that go beyond even the abortion issue. This is why your stance is so righteous. We’re grateful for it. Of course, as I told you, the air cover from Heritage and, hopefully, from a lot of organizations on the political right will keep happening. Moving from that to actually an equally important issue, and that is women’s sports. You’ve been a lead advocate for common sense there. Tell us what’s going on with that issue.

Tuberville: Where you want me to start? I wake up every morning going, “We’re not really fighting this battle, are we?”

Roberts: It’s hard to believe.

Tuberville: It’s hard to believe that any grown, mature person that grew up in a free country like we’re growing up in with a democracy that have given people all the opportunities in the world would come up with this idea. And all it is, it’s a fight against family. The left, the radical left, they cannot stand God. They won’t even mention God. They hate the Constitution and America and they want to destroy the nuclear family. All you got to do is look at the facts, and they’re all out there. And you’ve got a lot of the Democrats that you would think that are faith-based from a lot of these states that just, I guess they want to get reelected because they’re going along with all this nonsense.

But women having to compete against biological men is the most absurd thing that I’ve ever heard. Now I come from the sports field, of fairness, of people having the opportunity to train, prepare for years, physically and mentally, to win and win championships. Title IX was started 51 years ago. I can remember when it started. Unfortunately, I can remember that far back. But it gave the right for young girls and women to have the same level playing field in terms of facilities and money and coaches. And I’m telling you, in college athletics, you got to have the same number of women athletes as you do men athletes. You can’t have one more, one less. It’s got to be the same. That’s how particular it is. But now you’ve got a group out there saying, “We need to allow young men, if they really feel like that they are not a man, that they’re a woman, they should be able to compete,” which is stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, to put it bluntly. And what it’s going to do, it’s going to tear down Title IX.

Joe Biden, as I said in a speech the other day, is taking a sledgehammer to women’s sports. Where are the women activists? Where are the people that actually push for Title IX now? They’re on the other side wanting young boys and men to play in these against women’s sports-

Roberts: It makes no sense.

Tuberville: ... and dress in the same dressing room. It’s hypocritical is what it is. We’ve got this bill called the Protect Women and Girls Sports Act. It passed the House a couple weeks ago. Not one Democrat voted for it. This goes to show you where our country’s going, especially on the left. Schumer’s not going to bring it up on the Senate floor now that it’s passed, so I tried to bring it up last week and got shot down from the Democrats. They don’t want to talk about it. There’s a bunch of them that’s running for reelection. Somehow, someway, I’m going to get their vote on this thing. And they’ve already voted in the past a few ways on it, so we’ve got them on a vote, but they’re going to have to stand up and be accountable on this bill.

Listen, I got nothing against people that want to think that they’re something, somebody else or whatever. This is a free country. If you’re a guy, you want to dress up like a lady, fine. If you’re a lady, you want to dress up like a guy, fine. That’s your right in this country. But to compete in that area, if you’re one to compete in the other, there’s nothing right about that. There’s no fairness. It’s not safe. There’s been girls hurt competing against men and boys, and, of course, the dressing room debacle is just unbelievable. This Riley Gaines that lost at Kentucky, the national championship to they call Lia Thomas, who’s 6’4” by the way, got just hammered in the sport that they were competing in. It was just so unfair. But what gets me, as a father, is she has to dress in the same dressing room-

Roberts: It’s unconscionable.

Tuberville: ... completely naked. And they were not told that that was going to happen. I’ve been listening to her talks. I’m embarrassed for our country that something like this would happen. You’d think we’re in China or Russia or something that we think something like this is right. And, again, it’s the left pushing non-values on people all across this country. They want to change us to something that we’re not. They might think they’re Americans, but that’s not the American way.

Roberts: Well, and the vast majority of the American people, to your point, are with you. They’re with common sense. And, just as I sit here listening to you talk about this, this is an issue that Heritage works significantly to, God forbid, for a lot of reasons, but including this one, that we find ourselves in a war with an adversary like China or Russia because this is what we spend our time talking about as a people, as opposed to being prepared.

But, to move on to another topic, and one that concerns you and concerns us, I know it concerns every member of this audience, and that’s the border. You and I were talking, as we were walking to our studio, that it isn’t incompetence on behalf of the Biden administration. This is very intentional. It’s very purposeful. And, as we sit here recording this in early May, we know that it’s only going to get worse in the near term. What can be done about it as long as Biden is present?

Tuberville: If you look at everything going on across the world with Ukraine and Russia and China, the crime in our country, inflation, our bad education, all the things that’s going on, the one thing that’s going to tear our country down, as we speak that’s going on, is our open borders. You can’t have a country with open borders. It’s impossible. They know that. These people are globalists. They don’t believe in having borders anywhere. If you just go to Europe, and I’ve been to Europe several times since I’ve had this job, and just talking with people over there in Germany and other places where they let all these thousands and thousands of refugees come in, they’re devastated. They’re broke. They’ve lost it. They’ve lost their country. That’s what’s happening to us all of a sudden.

You can listen to speeches of Joe Biden 20, 25 years ago, totally opposite of what he is today. He doesn’t believe this. He’s been talked into this by globalists, by these climate hoax people, by the people that just absolutely want to do everything they possibly can to bring us to socialism, and this is the fastest way they can do it. For some reason, they’re hung up on race. I coached for, as we talked about it, for a long time, I never looked at black, white, red. I didn’t care. My job was to put 120 people together and win games, because if you didn’t, you’re going to get your tail fired. And I took them from urban areas, from poor areas, from rich, all different parts of the country, and then bring them together and have to win with them.

Well, that’s what we’ve done over the years in the United States. We’ve taken people from different countries, from different races. But, when you come into this country, you’re not a race or you’re not just a male or a female. You’re not just an immigrant. You’re an American. Once you’re a citizen here, you’re an American, you’re on America’s team, and you fight to keep America the way it is. Well, Biden administration wants to bring as many people from as many different countries, and they’re accomplishing this now. I’ve been down there. I couldn’t believe it when I first went down there after I first got elected, that we’re right in the middle of COVID and they’re bringing people in and left, not testing them, putting them on buses.

I got on a plane to come back from McAllen, Texas, and I sat next ... they pull a bus up next to our plane, half the plane was illegals, flying them all over the country. And I’m thinking, “These people are so worried about a virus that’s supposedly killing thousands and thousands of people, which it did, and they could care less. They’re letting everybody in.” And it hasn’t slowed down the drugs. It’s wreaking havoc on crime. What I see, there’s 3% of the country now that are illegals, 3% of America is illegals, but it’s 21% of the crime, federal crimes, and we can’t keep up with that. We cannot do it. But they know what they’re doing. They want votes. They want to destroy the country as it has been for 247 years, and they want to change it to the direction that they want it to go, whatever that is. You can’t figure it out.

Roberts: No, you can’t. And the U.S. House will take up the big border security bill very soon, and yet you and I both know, you better than just about anyone, that the prospects for that in the Senate are slim.

Tuberville: Yeah, and we need to talk about it. My first two years here, we were minority in the House and Senate and the White House, and they spent six trillion more dollars than we should have spent. American people didn’t know. If you started to count to a trillion, it’d take you three years to get there. That’s how much money that is. And we threw so much money out there, inflation’s rampant. They cut all the oil out, “We don’t want to dig for oil. We want wind and solar,” which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. This EV battery and EV cars, it’s going to be the downfall of a lot of our car manufacturing. And I’d go around and talk to them, “Are y’all going do actually do this? There’s nowhere to charge. We don’t have enough energy to even charge all these batteries. Batteries don’t last very long. How are you going to dispose of them?” But these people are buying into it. I don’t understand it.

Roberts: Well, it’s part of the agenda, but you’re telling me is that we shouldn’t have an all-electric tank fleet when we’re in our next war? This could be a comedy show, Senator, this administration.

Tuberville: Well, we could sit here and talk all day about the just things that are not going to work. The EV battery’s not going to work. Now I hear Elon Musk say we can come up with different types of batteries that we don’t have to use all these minerals, and that would be their only savior, because everything that put into a battery basically comes from China. This White House must be so compromised by China that they can’t tell them no for anything.

Roberts: Yeah, it’s clear.

Tuberville: It’s clear, yes, exactly.

Roberts: Well, let’s talk about a policy area where, of course, D.C. May have something to say, but it’s a policy change that NCAA implemented. You’ve got great expertise in this, obviously, and that’s NIL, name, image, and likeness. Talked to sports fans, other coach friends I know, and opinion’s split about what to do about this. I’ve been waiting to ask you this question. What do we do about NIL?

Tuberville: Well, the one thing I will tell you is I hear from all my friends that are still in coaching, and they all hate it, because what it’s done, it’s taken control away from coaches being able to work with kids and make them better and discipline them, because a lot of these kids come from areas, they’ve never had any kind of upbringing in terms of learning to work with other people, understanding you got to get up on time, you’ve got to do your homework. Everything’s structured when you get to college. But now the control has gone over to the players, and it’s very hard. I’m for education. One of the reasons I ran for this job, I saw how our education is nose diving because the teachers unions are absolutely destroying our kids all over the country. That’s for another topic.

And I’m for players making money, and I’m going to tell you why. I’ve always been for them making money because, when you’re a college athlete, only time in your life you really have two full-time jobs. Going to school is full-time. And most of the kids there, that’s all they do is go to school and study and go to study halls and do projects. Well, when an athlete comes, he has to do all that. Then he has to turn around, his other job is sports, and it is time-consuming. And so they really have no chance to go out and earn extra money to go on a date or if you want to buy a car or help your parents or whatever. The money’s not there. And so now I’m for them making money. I’m not for the way they’re doing it right now.

What’s happened is you’re having a few players make money, but most of them don’t, okay, the real good players. It’s all going to the great players. Plus, when the Supreme Court passed this, they didn’t say that, “Hey, you can go out and recruit and tell them, ‘Okay, you’re going to come here and we’re going to give you 500,000,’ or, ‘If you come here, we’ll give you 800,000,’” and then they go there and they don’t get their money. It’s, basically, I won’t call it a scam, but it’s just the coaches are using something that they’re allowed to use, but there’s a lot of misnomers to it.

What we’re trying to do, Joe Manchin and I, bipartisan bill, trying to put basics into the to the NCAA that all 50 states have to go with these four or five things. Now you can build around it, but we’re just trying to make it to where we can leave education the number one priority, not athletics. It’s not about athletics when you go to college, it’s about education, opportunities after education, and the sports thing is just something that you can use to get your education paid for. We’re in a situation now where a lot of these kids are making tons of money and they’re wanting more, more, and more. And, again, I’m not for them making money, but I’m for one or two making money, and everybody that’s standing beside you doing the same thing you’re doing is not making any. That’s not the American way.

Roberts: Yeah. People who, and well-meaning people, who think that the NIL practice has actually addressed the issue that you’re talking about, which is that there’s no time for any of these players to make a little bit of money, date, help their family out, whatever. NIL actually doesn’t help that because there’s tremendous inequity in it, and so we’re very grateful here at Heritage that you and Senator Manchin are working on that.

Hopefully we get a lot of chances to talk football, politics, culture over the years, Senator, but we’ll close today’s episode with a final question that I ask almost all the guests. And you’re a realist. We were talking about that before. In spite of that realism, in spite of the challenges facing America, why did you wake up optimistic today?

Tuberville: Well, because we’ve been here for so long, 240-something years. We’ve been a country that has been so strong. We’ve gone through tough situations, as you and I grew up in, in Vietnam War. We were young, but we saw it. We were ripped from the seams from all over the country, from people against the war, for the war, people fighting in the streets. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs in the economy. You go back to the equal rights. I grew up during integration when I was in seventh grade, when our school, we brought everybody together, which rightly so. That should have been done a lot earlier than that, but we couldn’t correct that. But it’s really worked. Our country has worked.

Now we’re going to have our hard times and bad times, but the problem that I’m having right now is, when I get up, I see more of it, a lot more of it since I’m a senator and I worry about it a lot more, because I see the seams coming apart a little bit. Because, when you go against our Constitution, which is the laws that we should be going by every day, when you’ve got an administration that’s going around a lot of our laws, circumventing the proper way to do it, like what we talked about earlier about the Department of Defense and the VA, when that’s happening and nobody’s really complaining and the media’s really standing behind the other group, it’s time to get concerned. But, again, this country’s gone through a lot and we’ve withstood a lot. I think we can continue to do that, but we got to get more people understanding how great this country is.

Roberts: Senator Tommy Tuberville, Coach Tuberville, thanks so much for being here and for doing what you’re doing on behalf of the everyday American.

Tuberville: Thank you.

Roberts: Hope you enjoy that conversation with Senator Tuberville as much as I did. We have some work to do, as he said, but we’re going to put one foot in front of the next, keep moving forward, and try to widen that path for reclaiming this country. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.

The Kevin Roberts Show is brought to you by more than half a million members of The Heritage Foundation.