John Moss, a First Lieutenant in the Air Force stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base just outside of Boston, knew that he had to do something to show Tuberville just how much he appreciated what he had done by making the trip. The idea that came to mind was working a football camp as a coach. That set the wheels in motion that ended with him working with the wide receivers at Saturday's Senior Camp on the Plains.
"When I first heard Coach Tuberville, along with Coach Randy Shannon and Charlie Weis, were going overseas to see the troops it means something to you," Moss tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "It was important to me to hear that these coaches took time out of their schedules, as a coach they don't have much free time. They took time out of their vacations, time they could be with their families, to see the troops. Being in the Air Force as a first lieutenant it hit home.
"I asked Coach Jimmy Perry if he had a spot I was more than willing to come. He said if I was willing to fly down he had a spot for me. That's how it happened. I flew in last night after work at about 12 a.m. I got in about 12:15 and drove to Auburn. I got in the dorm, got a couple of hours of sleep, and then I got on the field."
Moss works with the wide receivers during Saturday's camp.
A native of Scranton, Pa., Moss is a graduate of Boston University and has been in the Air Force for almost three years. His commitment ends next June and he says he hopes to work for the Air Force Academy if everything goes well, but one thing he's sure of is that his life has forever been changed by taking the chance to spend one day as a football coach at a football powerhouse like Auburn.
With his rotation coming up and the chance he could be sent overseas a real possibility, Moss says it makes it even more special to have a chance to talk to Tuberville and tell him how much he appreciates everything he's done.
"He was great," Moss says of Tuberville. "You can tell that once someone goes and sees what the troops go through on a day-to-day basis, it's that closeness that he now understands what we go through.
"He was just great," Moss adds. "He asked me how things were going and when I would be going over there next and how he appreciates what we do. It was nice. He took time out of his schedule to do that.
"My rotation is coming up. They were going to send me last year, but they had to send some other guys. If they want to send me I'm ready to go. That's why I joined up. I'm not afraid to go over there. I'm here to serve my country and that's what I want to do."
Tuberville, Weis and Shannon were joined on the trip to the Middle East by Georgia's Mark Richt and Yale's Jack Siedlecki. The coaches also visited U.S. service personnel in Germany who were recovering from wounds and injuries suffered on their tours of duty.
Making his first trip to Auburn and the South in general, Moss says that the chance to work with Auburn's coaches and see what life in the SEC is all about is one he knows not many people get. He adds that having seen it up close and personal he feels good about the direction of the program under Tuberville and his staff.
"This program is professional," Moss says. "The way they carry themselves, the way they treat the kids and the way the coaches treat each other and the high school coaches, it's first class. It's all about respect and I appreciate that. You go to some camps and maybe you don't have that as much. It's more of just a money maker. At Auburn you don't see that. They care about the kids, whether it's about the academics and talking about them as a whole person, they care. It's a class program.
"It's the first time I've been in SEC country," he adds. "This is what football is all about. It's the best conference in the country. Now I've got to come back for a game. Coach Perry told me to come back and stay with him and his wife. He's a great guy and a class individual. It just makes you happy that I came to the camp. I just appreciate everything they do."
The feeling is mutual, Tuberville tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That is terrific of John to make the trip to Auburn to help with our camp," the head coach says. "We appreciate that and we truly appreciate the sacrifices John and the rest of our servicemen and servicewomen make for our country."