The famous “Paul Finebaum Show” caller and die-hard Auburn football fan, Tammy Bullard, is known for her passionate on-air tirades. But when this spitfire isn’t defending her beloved Tigers, that same brutal honesty and raw sense of humor reveal themselves as rooted in a heart of gold. Today, she dishes on her love of Auburn, her life in football, Paul Finebaum, “Phyllis from Mulga,” what it’s like to be married to an Alabama fan, fashion tips for gameday and so much more. Ms. Tammy doesn’t hold back, so buckle your seat belt, and welcome today’s FACE of Birmingham, Tammy Bullard!
How did you become such a die-hard Auburn football fan?
I had several family members go to Alabama, and my uncle went to Auburn. In 1976, when I was 6 years old, he took me down there, and I was able to stay in the art class, and I got to meet some of the cheerleaders and the football players, and, at the time, it was a pretty awesome experience, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Is that your earliest football memory?
Well, since you asked, probably my earliest memory would be of my dad and mom. They are die-hard Alabama fans, and they stink just like all the rest of ’em, but we always went down and watched Alabama games and went to the parades and all that. I probably have been going to games since I was a baby.
What prompted you to start calling “The Paul Finebaum Show“?
Well one day, I was at work and I was griping about Auburn losing. My FedEx driver is an Auburn fan too, and he said, “Tammy, you have got to listen to this,” and he put it on the Finebaum show — on JOX 94.5 FM back then — and I listened to it in his truck for a few minutes, and I said, “Hey, who in the world do these people think they are? These Alabama fans ain’t got nothing, not a clue!” Well, I tell you what, that’s what made me call … “Shane from Center Point.” He made me so mad talking about Auburn the way he was talking about Auburn, and I just told my FedEx driver, “Do you know this number?” and we waited for him to say it over on the show, and I called in right then and there and responded to “Shane from Center Point.”
Can you describe your relationship with Finebaum?
Oh, I love Finebaum. He’s a ‘Bam, no doubt about it, but so is my mom, so that puts them in the same category and shows you how much I care about them. He’s really a super, sweet guy. There aren’t enough nice things to say about Paul. He knows a lot about sports, and I know people say he doesn’t. And he likes to keep the pot stirring, ain’t no doubt about that, because he sure can flip my switch! He’s still just Paul. I love him to death.
“Phyllis from Mulga” is the die-hard Alabama fan and your famous counterpart on the Finebaum Show. The two of you have been referred to as the “First Ladies of the Iron Bowl.” What is your relationship with her?
Well, I’ve never met Ms. Phyllis, and she is a hot tamale for Alabama — there ain’t no doubt about that! But I’m the same for Auburn, and we both have that mutual respect for each other. I’ll get mad now and respond, but I think Ms. Phyllis is a super lady. She gave me and my husband a wedding gift when we got married, little wine glasses. I think it would be super-awesome if we could sit down and just talk, but we ain’t never got the opportunity. She’s a real sweet lady, even though she’s a stinking ‘Bam.
During the Jerry Sandusky investigation at Penn State in 2011, you called the Finebaum Show and revealed that you’d been abused as a child, an act that opened the doors for a string of other abuse victims to share their experiences. What prompted this brave act?
Well I guess that was just what the topic was, and I’ve always been straightforward about who I am and things that have happened in my life. That’s one thing you can know about me is that Tammy would never lie to you, not about me or anyone else or anything. That’s something that happened in my life and something that I’ve overcome. When something like that happens in your life, you make the choices after that, and you’ve gotta do whatever it takes to make your life better. Anytime I can help someone or make someone laugh, that’s amazing.
Shifting gears into Tiger talk, what does Auburn need to do secure the win at the upcoming Iron Bowl 2016?
They’ve got to control the offensive line for us to have that running game, and to give White time to do what he needs to do if we have to throw the ball. I think the main thing is to control the offensive side of the ball on the line so we’ll be able to do what we do best.
I don’t think it’s going to be a high-scoring game. I don’t think Auburn’s going to let up on Alabama, and both of us are defensive teams. If I had to make a guess right now, if we shut down Hurts, it’s going to be, probably, 24-17 Auburn.
I’ve read that you and your husband have to watch the Auburn games in separate rooms. Along those lines, how does Auburn football affect your relationship with your husband or other friends and family?
Just like any of them other ‘Bams that are on the radio, they say what they want to say, and I say what I want to say. And if I get angry, I just throw them out of the house. That’s just the way to do it, just throw them out of the house. Or I’ll leave for the bedroom and leave him on the couch. If I do that, he’s staying on the couch; he isn’t coming to the bed. When Auburn is winning, it’s OK because he just stays quiet, but if Alabama is winning, I’m running my mouth. They all want to speak up during that Alabama game. And you know me, I just stand my ground. I’ve got a mouth, and I’m going to be telling them what I think no matter what is happening, and that’s just how it is. Does it interfere? I guess you could say we do get a little angry at each other.
You know more about the dynamics of the game than most men. What is it like to be such an opinionated female presence in such a male-dominated arena as SEC football?
Let me tell you, men do not intimidate me. I ain’t never let one intimidate me, and I’m not fixing to start. It may be from going back to what happened to me when I was younger. I’ve just got that strength, and I’m determined to let no man ever intimidate me. I love sports. I’ve grown up on them. I’ve played them. If I’d have gotten to play football, I’d have played it, but they wouldn’t let girls back in my time. My father was a coach and my brother played and he had a scholarship to go play at Florida State and played linebacker for Bobby Bowden. I learned a lot about football from my daddy and a lot from my Paw Paw, who coached football and baseball. Football is something I’ve always learned. We’d sit down at the dinner table at night with my brother and daddy, and that’s just what our dinner conversations were and how much football was a part of our lives. I guess that’s why I can talk the talk and walk the walk.
Do you have a favorite Auburn player this year, and who is your favorite of all time?
Well, of course, my favorite player of all time is Cam Newton. I love Bo Jackson, and he was the No. 1 all the way ’til Cam showed up. I was doing a little partying when Bo was running around, but I was more mature when Cam came along. Bo would be my second-time favorite. Today’s favorite player, with my offense side of the ball would be White, and for defense, I love me some Adams.
Of course, Pat Dye.
What is most challenging about being an Auburn fan?
The most challenging thing is listening to Alabama fans calling us Alabama’s stepchild, saying, “Y’all ain’t ever going to beat Alabama.” That would be my biggest challenge, shutting their mouths.
What is most rewarding about being an Auburn fan?
Just enjoying the game itself, seeing the Auburn kids having a good time and roll the trees again — I was so happy about that. Even though I never went to school there, I still consider myself a part of Auburn, and I think that’s a great thing.
Favorite Auburn football memory?
Oh my goodness, there are so many. I guess, if I had to have a favorite — is when I was most tipsy probably — was at 0:01 at the 2013 Iron Bowl, and I was losing it. I thought we were losing and was already out the door, and then all of a sudden they called me back and I heard them screaming and it was so fun, all at the last second. I enjoyed every minute of it.
What do you do when you’re not rooting for the Tigers?
Most of the time, I guess you could say fishing and taking care of them grandbabies.
If you could go back 10 or 20 years, what advice would you give yourself?
Well I guess the best thing I would say was — I was pretty wild. I’ve done some pretty wild things in the sexual activity part of things. I’d probably have to go back 20 years and tell myself to not be so sexual.
What style advice would you give to an Auburn fan trying to look sharp and show their team pride on game day?
Do whatever you want to do! If it means getting naked and putting stripes on you, put stripes on you. It don’t matter. You just do whatever you want to do; I don’t care how crazy it is.
What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I’m just a regular, good ol’ country girl who loves her grandbabies, and that’s probably something they don’t know about me. I’ve got nine grandchildren.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My grandma used to tell me, “Tammy, no matter what you do, treat others as you would want to be treated.” That’s just stuck with me. It’s in the Bible, and I’ve just stuck with it.
If you could extend a pre-Iron Bowl message to “Phyllis from Mulga,” what would it be?
Ms. Phyllis, we are coming into “Turdloosa,” and guess what we are going to do? We are coming out with a big “W.” Here we come — WAR EAGLE!
Aside from faith, family and friends, name three things you can’t live without.
Football, chocolate and sunshine.
EDITOR’S NOTE: StyleBlueprint desperately tried to make contact with “Phyllis from Mulga” for inclusion in this story, but we were unable to reach her. We’d love to give Phyllis a chance to respond to Tammy’s battle cry!
Thank you, Tammy, for sharing your fantastic sense of humor, refreshing honesty and passion for Auburn football!