How did you become interested in politics?
My interest in politics didn't manifest until later in life. As a young man, my main interests were my career in sports information, founding the Auburn Network, and starting a family with my wife, Susan. In 1996, I was introduced to Bob Riley, a first-time candidate for Congress at the time, and began working on his campaign because I liked him immediately and agreed with him on the issues facing our nation. He, of course, won that election and invited me to Washington for his swearing-in ceremony. I still remember the exact moment I first considered seeking political office while walking among the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the Capitol and the Library of Congress during that visit.
What advice would you give an Auburn student looking to enter politics?
Take advantage of the opportunities you have to gain experience now before you have to worry about earning a living and supporting a family. Volunteer to work on campaigns, seek government internships in both D.C. and Montgomery and get involved with groups like the College Republicans or Democrats. You will be amazed at the relationships you can foster and the powerful public officials you will come to know even this early in your budding political career.
What do you find most special about Auburn University?
Other colleges and universities in the southeast may make fun of it, but there truly is an Auburn Family on the campus. My wife, Susan, is Associate Dean in the College of Human Sciences and has been on the Auburn campus since the 1980s. She is still in touch with students she worked with years ago and takes a very personal interest in their progress. Auburn also places a very strong emphasis on academics.
What is the most rewarding part of politics? And the most challenging?
I find implementing needed government reforms most rewarding. In government you will often find that inefficient and broken ways of doing things are still being used today simply because that is the way they have been done for years.
The most challenging part of public service is balancing your responsibility to the citizens of our state with your responsibility to your family and your business. Make no mistake that public service is about sacrifice – both personally and financially – but if you are careful, you can maintain the balance that is needed.
What experience do you cherish the most from your time with Auburn?
I came to Auburn in 1983 when David Housel, who then-served as Sports Information Director, hired me to run the Heisman Trophy campaign for the University's star running back, Bo Jackson. I worked closely with Bo to make sure his name stayed in front of influential sportswriters, and we'd work the phones by the hour conducting interviews and discussing games with them. I've rarely felt the sense of satisfaction I felt when they announced Bo's name at the New York Athletic Club, and he shook my hand on live national television before holding the Heisman for the first time.
Last Updated: Nov. 14, 2012