Those young men had their whole lives in front of them and that was all just wiped out in an instant. That is a lot of grief for their family and friends to endure. The same is true for the players on the Auburn football team who were teammates of two of the victims, Ed Christian and Ladarious Phillips.
Your first thought as a head football coach when something like this happens is to reach out to the victims' families and try to give as much support as you can. Then certainly you've got to talk, counsel and get closer to your players who are in the program right now because their former teammates who died were like family to those young men.
The head coach has to be the one all of the players look to for the right answers. I tell you, I've been there, and it's hard to come up with the right answers about why things happen like they do sometimes. I feel for Gene Chizik and his whole coaching staff. I do feel good about the fact that Gene is in charge of the Auburn football program because of the type of man he is. He will come up with the best guidance possible for the guys in that program and the families of the players.
Part of the head coach's job is to reach out to the families of the players who were not involved in the shootings and assure them what happened was an isolated incident. A lot of kids come from neighborhoods in which something like this isn't an isolated incident, but, for the most part, these kids come from good families with mommas and daddies who are all concerned about the health and welfare of the kids when they leave home.
College football players are often grown men physically, but they're still young in life experiences, maturity and, in some cases, the decision-making process. The only thing you can do as a coach is to keep preaching to them every day about how precious life is.
I would think that everyone at that party on Saturday night was there just to have a good time with the exception of the guy who arrived with a gun and intentions to create trouble. College students have plenty of energy and it is as normal as it can be for them to be enjoying themselves on a Saturday night. If you keep track of current events you know these types of violent incidents are all too common in our country, but that doesn't lessen the pain when something so senseless as this hits close to home.
(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.