Letters to Coach Dye:
Although you don't remember meeting me, I "met" you back on October 10th, 1981 on the SW corner of what is now Pat Dye Field just before the LSU game. I was a 17-year-old high school senior who had accompanied a teammate on a recruiting visit. I didn't realize it at the time, but I was shaking the hand of a coach whose effect on the school and program that I grew up loving and emulating in back yard games would become legendary. That was a big deal for me back then; to actually shake the hand of the Auburn head football coach...Long story short; I want to say "Thank you, Coach."...
Thank you for going against the grain when it may have been easier to go somewhere else; and I remember the story of you basically quitting at Wyoming before being offered the Auburn job. Thank you for being a hard-nosed players coach, whom former players hold in the highest regard.
Thank you for saying what you believed instead of what people may have wanted to hear.
Thank you for telling the other side "we're not going anywhere" and handing them their rears like no other Auburn coach before you.
And thank you for allowing a young man whose favorite team had been on hard times the opportunity to know what it felt like to bask in the glory of a winning program. I know I contributed nothing but fandom and loyalty, but the 80's success came at the right time.
I'm older now (48 this August), and the sensationalism of boyhood often wanes with age, but I will never forget you or your accomplishments at Auburn. Saturday's became fun again.
I do have a question for you though, concerning a personal friend of mine who walked on to your first Auburn team from Livingston; Tim Drinkard. The story is that he hit someone so hard at practice one day, that you sent him to showers early. Is that true?
By the way, my high school teammate who I made the trip with was Yann Cowart. He had broken his leg the night before the visit playing in Selma, and I drove him to Auburn that weekend.
I've always been proud of that fella for making it at AU.
Best wishes to you Coach,
Auburn Family member
Chip, I don't remember that in particular with Tim Drinkard, but it could have very well happened. When you first come in to a program, you look for anything positive to set an example how you want your guys to play football. That is something we may have done to show the others how we wanted them to be physical. Thanks for your note and I am glad you decided to attend Auburn.
For the first time in this fan's life, explanations of offensive and defensive tactics are understood. Thank you. I don't think commercial TV coverage lets you see enough of the field to understand what's taking place. The viewer just doesn't know why what happened really happened. This instruction may help. Appreciate your take on coaches leadership without talking Chizik. I think his leadership, from what little I understand about football, is terrific. That assessment is made from a very limited point of view (never took a snap in any level of he game. Never studied coaching football).
I am glad you are enjoying the column, Fred.
I just wanted to send you an email and thank you for your involvement with Auburn. I grew up watching you coach Auburn and have always considered you Auburn's greatest coach. Maybe it is because of the greatness I was blessed to grow up watching.
I have seen you a couple of times at El Dorados on S. College. I spoke to you, but kept it brief because I always assume that y'all don't want to be bothered and I understand completely. I heard that you have a farm in Notasulga. I would like to come out and see what all you have one day if you don't mind. Where is it exactly? My parents live in Reeltown, so I am out that way pretty often. Thanks again Coach and War Eagle!
Michael, I do eat at El Dorado's and I do like Mexican food. We have a Japanese maple nursery and garden. We have a hunting preserve and we have a working farm. It is not the kind of place I just invite visitors to come out and visit because we are working, but anyone is welcome to come by and buy a tree or buy a hunt.
I always enjoy your columns that are on Inside the Auburn Tigers. It is always very insightful to hear your thought about things related to football in the SEC and particularly at Auburn.
As an Auburn graduate in 1972 I have seen a bunch of games and a bunch of coaches and I think that Auburn has had more than our share of good ones. I will always be thankful to you for your contributions to Auburn both on the sidelines and otherwise. You changed the attitude of the team and the mentality of all Auburn students and fans when you came to Auburn. Confidence and expecting excellence are attitudes that you showed and expected of the team and it showed then and has carried on somewhat in the years since then.
I believe that we now have a coach (and coaching staff) who is dedicated to making Auburn as good as it can be and I believe that they have the talent and energy to do so. I am excited to get back to football season and sitting in my long-time west upper deck seats!
My wife, Kathy, and I used to live in Sebring, FL (100 miles south of Orlando) and would have to drive all day on Friday to get to Auburn, go to the football game on Saturday, and then drive all day on Sunday to get back home. When I retired in 2004 we moved back to Alabama we no longer had to drive over 1,000 miles 7 or 8 times each fall and it just became 250. However, Kathy has had Multiple Sclerosis since 1975 and in the middle of the 2010 season (after the Clemson game) she finally had to quit going due to the 75 steps to get to our seats in the upper deck, but my son from the Atlanta area uses her seat now and is thankful for it.
I know you have seen a lot of football players in your day and so have I. I went to school with Pat Sullivan and saw in person other Heisman winners like Bo Jackson, Doug Flutie, Herschel Walker, Matt Leinart, Tim Tebow, Mark Ingram, many others on TV, and many other great ones who didn't win the Heisman (e.g. Terry Beasley), but of all the great ones I've seen one stands alone in his ability to take over a game and that is Cameron Newton.
If you're like most people your jaw just dropped open about every 3rd play with Cam. Since he handled the ball on every play he had a greater opportunity to produce than a RB like Bo and Bo wasn't asked to pass (although I bet he could have!) so Cam had more opportunity to show his stuff than Bo. Also since Bo played in the wishbone for 3 years or so opponents could sometimes prevent him from getting the ball by the way they defended the wishbone so that may have limited his numbers.
I know that you have always held Bo Jackson in your highest regard and as far as being a complete athlete I think in that regard he has no equal. However, I'd be interested to know who you would pick if you had to choose one player to start your team from scratch ... Bo or Cam ... or someone else.
I hope you and your family are doing well,
Rob Gilliam, '72
Rob, without putting myself on the spot I am going to say I would love to have Cam at quarterback and Bo at tailback. That would be a great start. Even then, they have to have nine other guys around them playing well to be successful, especially the offensive line.
(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.