I have been accused of meddling, influencing and whatever in the past and present, which is absolutely not true. I certainly didn't have any influence on Jay Jacobs hiring Gene Chizik. In fact, I was as surprised as anybody.
I loved the choice, but it was obviously an unpopular choice with a lot of people and I knew it would be with Gene's record when he was at Iowa State. If I had any influence on Jay Jacobs' decision, it was in the 1980s when he was playing football for me at Auburn. It sure wasn't more than 20 years later when he was out doing the search for a new head coach in his role as athletic director.
Jay Jacobs (pointing, in blue shirt) is shown at an Auburn basketball game with former Tiger star Bo Jackson. Both Jacobs and Jackson played football on Dye's teams in the 1980s.
It is obvious that Dr. Gogue made a good decision in trusting Jay to make the choice and it is obvious that Gene Chizik was a good choice. Coach Chizik has made a lot of good choices since he returned to Auburn. You can see that in the coordinators and other coaches he has hired. You can see that in the players they have brought into the program with guys like Cameron Newton who are helping make this such a memorable and exciting season.
There are a lot of young players who are helping this team be successful and the coaches have certainly done a wonderful job with the seniors who are playing key roles in their team's success.
The decisions made by the people at the top have worked out perfectly for the Auburn football program. I couldn't be more proud of Jay and his staff for the job they are doing. I feel the same way about Gene and the job he and his staff are doing. It has been a real joy and privilege to watch them work and get to know them. After all, I am just a big fan now, nothing more, nothing less.
From the mailbag:
I enjoy your column and am glad to hear about the Legends of Coaching panel. There are some good football minds at work there. My question concerns Auburn's pass defense. What are your thoughts of rushing three men and blitzing the linebackers more and adding a fifth man to the secondary? Thanks, Paul Reeder
I am not sure I have seen the defense in a three-man rush this year, but I am sure they have it in their package. Auburn's basic defense is based off of getting pressure with four down linemen and the other seven playing linebacker and in the secondary. Of course, the team uses nickel and dime packages replacing linebackers with defensive backs, but the defense is still in a four-man rush to get pressure on the quarterbacks.
Auburn has been successful getting a good rush on quarterbacks. The coverage in the secondary has not been nearly as bad as it would appear at times. Guys who have been in good position have just not made plays on the ball when it was thrown, although the secondary was much better against LSU. I would expect the defense continue to improve throughout the year, particularly with the many young folks who are playing.
Could you please explain why you continue to vote Alabama ahead of Auburn on your ballot? I have heard it is because Alabama beat them the last time they played. That's fine, but you're not using the same logic for other teams. What about Oregon over Boise? Alabama over Utah? If it's just a ploy to keep Auburn motivated so be it, but be man enough to admit it.
Best Wishes and War Eagle,
Andy, that is a good question and you might have a good point about my voting in the Legends Coaches Poll. A lot of the teams that were ranked high early in the season have fallen by the wayside. Auburn has continued to win and Alabama has continued to win, too, although Alabama has the defeat against South Carolina. Alabama was the consensus No.1 team to start the season, but has certainly dropped in the polls and in the opinion of everybody out there since the start of the season. There is no way I can deny that I am an Auburn man and an Auburn fan I am not going to do anything to motivate the opposition with my voting in the Legends Poll. The bottom line is it will all play out in the end and the final poll is the one that matters.
Hi Coach Dye,
I've heard so many compliments from my father and Uncle Bob (Bob Waters, head football coach at Western Carolina from 1969-1988) about you, I just wanted to say hello. My father Russell played football up at West Point on the '58 team that had Dawkins and that group. Not sure if you knew him or not, but I know that Uncle Bob had a lot of respect for you and thought you were a great person. His passing from Lou Gherig's was a tough loss for many people. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Great article on David and Goliath. Best wishes and good luck the rest of the year to your Tigers.
I appreciate the note and the comments. Your father was certainly one of the great guys in the coaching ranks. I was glad that I got to know him. He was a successful coach and a great man.
Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)