We started off the year with the BCS national championship game as the first big event. Normally it is a good game, but this year it was a flop. However, soon after that football fans were treated to a very entertaining Super Bowl. It was a great game and a great spectacle.
Although football is on the backburner for now, there are plenty of other events that will keep those of us who love sports and competition entertained between now and when football returns in the fall.
This week the Daytona 500 is in the headlines as the NASCAR season opens with its biggest event. I was born and raised below Augusta, Ga., not too far from Daytona so that race always interests me. I remember when they used to run it down on the beach. It's been a sports spectacle for the common folks for many years and it has really grown. Winning the Daytona 500 is kind of like winning the Masters tournament in golf. You have got a lifetime of security from doing that if you use it properly.
The Masters is one of my favorite events and it will be here soon in early April. When I was growing up in Augusta, I attended Richmond Academy, which was a public school, but it was a military high school. One of the most interesting things about being a student there was we got a special assignment during the Masters week. We worked at Augusta National holding the ropes to keep the crowd from getting too close to the golfers.
I was able to watch great players like Ben Hogan and Sam Snead from three or four yards away and that helped create my love of the event I still have today.
I don't go to the Masters every year, but I was fortunate enough to be there the year that Jack Nicklaus broke the record for most Masters victories. I still say one of the most phenomenal athletic achievements in American history is Tiger Woods breaking the scoring record at Augusta (18-under-par) going four rounds without a three-putt. Unless you have played Augusta National, it is difficult to really appreciate how challenging those greens are.
The next big event on the collegiate athletic scene is March Madness as the conference and NCAA basketball tournaments gets cranked up next month. The run to the national championship is something plenty of American sports fans look forward to every year.
While all of this is going on, baseball is coming out of hibernation. Pitchers and catchers are already working out at spring training sites in Florida and Arizona. It won't be long before exhibition games start and the regular season is here.
Although it doesn't dominate the American sports scene like it did for many generations, for many people baseball is still the game they enjoy most. In this part of the country a lot of people follow the Braves because the games are on TV and it is an easy drive to head to Atlanta to watch games, but you can find fans of a variety of teams in our region. College baseball has already started with Auburn opening the season over the weekend against Missouri. Hopefully, Coach (John) Pawlowski's team will have a lot of success this season. Like so many other sports, this is one the SEC plays at a very high level.
When I was coaching college football much of the time I didn't have the opportunity to check out what was happening in other sports, but I am enjoying the opportunity to do that now. It's a lot of fun. I am not the biggest racing fan in the world, but I am looking forward to watching the Daytona 500 this week along with plenty of other great events to follow.
(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 is 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 player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a 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 for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.