New Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville has probably shook a few thousand hands during the past month.
Tuberville spoke to more than 1,000 Texas Tech fans at an alumni event in Dallas. He spoke to another 500 fans in Houston. Tuberville threw out the first pitch at the Texas Tech baseball team's season opener last week, and he has tried to attend as many Red Raiders basketball games as possible.
"It's been great," Tuberville said of his reception in Lubbock. "It's been really good. I go out and shake hands and do all the things you need to do from a PR standpoint. I tell people who we are and what they can expect. I've been all over Texas speaking to Kiwanis clubs and Lions clubs."
Tuberville, who hasn't coached since stepping down as Auburn's coach in December 2008, didn't know exactly what to expect when he was hired to replace fired Mike Leach on Jan. 11.
Leach had been an ultra-popular coach at Texas Tech, leading the Red Raiders to 84 victories and 10 straight bowl games before he was fired on Dec. 30 for insubordination. Leach had been suspended indefinitely by the school while it investigated allegations he mistreated a player suffering from a concussion. Leach took the school to court to overturn his suspension, and Texas Tech fired him before the legal hearing.
"Mike did a lot of great things here," Tuberville said. "It was kind of like me leaving Auburn. A lot of people were disappointed, but things change. It's kind of ironic -- Mike was here for 10 years and I was at Auburn for 10 years."
Tuberville said he met with Red Raiders wide receiver Adam James shortly after he was hired. James' father, ESPN college football analyst Craig James, complained to school officials about Leach's treatment of his son while he recovered from a concussion, claiming the former coach secluded him in a dark shed and utility closet.
"I think Adam went through a tougher time than anyone," Tuberville said. "I met with him for about 20 minutes right after I got the job. I met with all the players. I didn't do him any differently than anyone else."
Tuberville said he hasn't noticed Texas Tech's players treating James any differently.
"These are college kids," Tuberville said. "This is not life and death. They just want to play and win games."