Marco Rubio is in a seemingly tough position. He graduated from the University of Florida, but he attended law school at the University of Miami. He’s also a Miami native.
So when it comes to college football, who the heck does he root for?
“I don’t root against the Hurricanes because Florida and the Hurricanes don’t play regularly anymore,” the Florida senator and presidential hopeful said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But I’m a Gator fan and I have been and continue to be. I like the way that program’s headed. They got a new coach down there (Jim McElwain) and he actually came in at the end and saved that recruiting class and did a pretty good job. So they got a bright future. It’s a pretty good athletic program all the way around. Now, I like the guys down at Miami. Coach (Al) Golden is a good (coach) and supporter and I root for them, too. But the Gators are my team. Everybody knows that.”
Rubio, 44, played football in high school and for a year in college – not at Florida, but Tarkio College in Missouri – before embarking on a successful political career. How successful? Well, if the White House were an end zone, Rubio would definitely be in the red zone; in fact, he may be 1st-and-goal.
His top contender in the primary might just be Donald Trump, an entrepreneur masquerading as a politician.
“These things happen,” Rubio said. “The guy’s well-known to begin with and he’s very good at publicity and things of this nature. He’s struck a nerve. People are upset. They voted for change three out of the last four elections, and nothing changed. So they’re mad about it and rightfully so. For me, though, the question is what do you do with that anger? Do you channel it and use to to motivate you, or do you let it define you? And my argument is we should be angry. Nothing’s changed. We got to make changes, but we need to use that anger to motivate us to channel it in the right way, not let it define us as an angry nation – because in the end, we have a lot to be optimistic about if we do the right things, if we make the right changes. What country in the world would you trade places with? There’s still no better place, but we’ve got real challenges if we want to keep it that way.”
Tiki Barber, however, wonders if it’s dangerous for people such as Trump to enter the political realm more so as an entertainer than a policy-maker. It’s great for laughs, and it’s great for headlines, but the future of our nation is something we should take very seriously.
“Well look, in politics, like anything else, you’re competing for people’s attention,” Rubio said. “They’ve got things going on in their lives; they’ve got other things they could watch. So there is a factor in play. I don’t know about entertainment, but you’ve got to be interesting. Otherwise people won’t listen to what you’re saying – and it’s got to be authentic, too. But ultimately it’s serious stuff. If a team loses a game, yeah, you’ll be depressed for a few days, but if we make the wrong choices in public service, the country pays a terrible price for it. People’s lives are disrupted, they lose jobs, it impacts families. So obviously the stakes are higher, but at the end of the day, you’re competing for people’s attention in politics and it’s important to have a message that cuts through.”
Getting back to the gridiron for just a second, Rubio, if you’re curious, didn’t have the size to play Division I college football. He isn’t tall – “5-9, 5-9-and-a-half on a good day” – but he was fast. He once ran a 4.65 in the 40-yard dash before tearing his ACL in 2006. He rehabbed hard, though, and eventually ran a 4.68 after the injury.
Could he run a 4.68 now?
“Not now,” Rubio said, laughing. “(But) I’ll tell you this: I’m the fastest person running for president.”