A lot of credit for successful recruiting classes should go to the assistant coaches. It is a year-around process making the evaluations and figuring out what players they need to recruit and then developing the relationships necessary to convince them your program is the right fit.
Recruiting is truly unpredictable no matter how much time and effort a coach puts into the assignment.
When I was working as an assistant coach I remember kids committing to us that I thought we had very little chance to sign and other ones I thought we were going to sign but they headed elsewhere. I can remember being surprised, and a few times even amazed by kids I didn't think were coming our way tell me they were committing. I also remember the feeling when kids who I was sure were headed our way telling me they were going to sign with a different college. When you lose a recruit you thought you were getting it can feel like somebody is ripping out your guts.
The great recruiters enjoy what they are doing even though it is hard work because they like the challenge and the competition. They thrive in those situations. The great recruiters have the ability to create a trust between the player and the coaches and between their family and the coaches, which is an on-going thing.
Another trait of the great recruiters is that they have a knack of figuring out which prospects are guys who will be successful in college. It's not all about ability. You can recruit a great talent who never pans out because he doesn't have the character, the drive or the will to succeed at the college level, attributes that are just as important as being physically gifted.
In addition to recruiting this is an important time in the development of the coming season's team with the players involved in their winter workouts. Coach Kevin Yoxall and his staff play a key role this time of year in getting each of their guys bigger, stronger or faster---whatever the individual goal for a particular player may be. It can't be overemphasized how important this period of the year is for college football players.
By the time spring practice starts the goal is for the players to come out of the winter workouts mentally tougher, physically tougher and spiritually tougher.
The coaches have been busy on the road recruiting in recent weeks so they haven't been involved in the winter workouts. They are relying on Coach Yoxall and his staff to build the mental and physical toughness the 2011 Auburn football team will need to be successful.
During the winter workout process the players are exposed to drills and exercises that take them to the limit physically because a lot of them have no idea of what they can do until they are pushed. With the right program, the right approach and the right attitude from the players, they can grow tremendously from one year to the next.
When a player is physically gifted and physically tough, as well as mentally tough, that opens the door for him to be spiritually tough. By spiritually tough I mean you determine what you are going to allow to beat you on and off the field. I know sometimes a football player has to reach down and get something extra and that is what I call spiritual toughness. Having the mental toughness and physical toughness developed in the offseason workouts makes it easier to call on the spiritual toughness when it is needed.
This Auburn coaching staff, from what I have observed, is doing an excellent job with recruiting. Looking at the big picture, I can't see any aspect of their jobs that they aren't doing well and that explains why Auburn fans are still enjoying the results of a terrific 2010 season and are why they are excited about the prospects who will be playing for the Tigers from this year's signees.
From the mailbag:
Dear Coach Dye,
I just wanted to send you a short note to express how much I enjoyed reading your recent article and its tribute to Dr. Ed Dyas. It was touching to read how Dr. Dyas's wife said that he held on to life so that he could see the 2010 team through the year and on to the National Championship.
It was also a treat to see you chasing him in that old picture at the Georgia vs. Auburn game so many years ago too.
With warm regards & War Eagle!
Class of 1986
Thanks for your comments Hank. I can say without a doubt that Ed Dyas was a great Auburn man and he will be missed.
I enjoy reading your articles on ITAT, but I wanted to give you special thanks to what you accomplished for Auburn.
I enrolled in AU in 1979 and I remember what the 1981 team was like, seeing your 1982 team almost beat #1 Georgia. I remember watching Bo over the top the next year ending 9 years of pain. I remember being disappointed in 1983 thinking we were national champions only to see Miami jump over us. I remember you working to expand the stadium and eventually get the Iron Bowl moved to Auburn in 1989.
So it was especially nice to watch "All In: The Story of Auburn's Undefeated 2010 Season" and see you and Bo in the locker room after the games and on the sidelines. You started us on that journey and it was good to see this team "wrestle with those angels" and win it all; not only for themselves but the Auburn Family and the 1983 team, the 1993 team and the 2004 team.
Thank you so much for all you have done for Auburn.
Ted Thompson '84
Now that I am retired from coaching I am a big fan of the Tigers just like you. It truly was a great season and I am glad you enjoyed it. I sure did.
(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.)
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.