Dye-Gest: Good Week for the Tigers

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about football, Kodi Burns and other Auburn sports in this edition of his Dye-Gest column.

Coach Gus Malzahn (left) watches Kodi Burns when the new Auburn wide receivers coach played for the Tigers.

There has been a good bit of offseason Auburn football news this week with Dameyune Craig going to LSU and Kodi Burns coming back to Auburn from Arizona State to replace him as wide receivers coach. The Tigers also got a boost for their 2016 roster when linebacker T.J. Neal decided he will play for Auburn this year as a graduate transfer student.

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I am excited about Kodi coming back to his alma mater to coach the receivers. He was such an unselfish player at Auburn and did a great job as a graduate assistant coach for the Tigers before moving on to success as a full-time coach at other colleges.

Like another alumnus who Gus Malzahn has added to his 2016 coaching staff, Travis Williams, Kodi loves Auburn and is a high energy guy. I like the youth factor with those guys on the staff, one on each side of the football. Going forward I like where the coaching staff is at for the 2016 season.

I have heard a lot of good things about Neal, who is expected to join the team later this year as a graduate transfer student from the University of Illinois. He is a player who will have a chance to contribute in a major way at linebacker for Travis Williams. With Auburn’s need for experience at that position with the Tigers losing seniors Kris Frost, Justin Garrett and Cassanova McKinzy, the opportunity for Neal is very good at Auburn.

With Neal committed to joining to team and Kodi Burns back on Coach Malzahn’s staff, I would say it has been a good week for the Auburn football program.

Kodi Burns (left) is shown at the White House representing the Tigers after they were honored there after winning the 2010 football national championship.

On the subject of a good week, the women’s teams certainly had one with the No. 1 ranked equestrian team defeating No. 2 Georgia, the gymnastics team defeating Alabama, the basketball team getting an important victory over a nationally-ranked Florida team and the softball team picking up where it left off last season.

I am particularly happy for Coach Jeff Graba, whose team had an historic victory. I know that Auburn gymnasts going back many years are really excited about the victory over Alabama and the progress the Tigers have made in recent years, including last year’s trip to the national finals.

I had Coach Graba on my radio show and he said Auburn Arena seats around 7,4000 for gymnastics meets, but there were more than 9,000 people in the building last Friday night so that is a good thing. If you are a competitive athlete you like to compete in front of a full house just like Caitlin Atkinson did to win the meet when the senior All-American came through on the last event of the night to put the Tigers on top.

It’s exciting to see seniors like her have a lot of success and the same thing can be said about Elizabeth Benson, who is going to set every record there is for riding. The equestrian team is one of my favorites because I was kind of in on it from the beginning as it developed from a club sport to where we are today. I don’t think there is anybody in the country the last 10 or 15 years who has a better record in the sport than Auburn.

There have been a lot of reasons to feel good about Auburn sports this month despite the struggles of the men’s basketball team. I think fans understand the issues Coach Bruce Pearl is dealing with now, but I can promise you he will get the program back in shape so the Tigers don’t have to go through another season like this one.

On the football front spring practice is almost here and a lot of people are curious to see who emerges as the No. 1 quarterback. I imagine there will be more than 40,000 folks show up for the spring game in April to get a look at the quarterbacks and the rest of the 2016 team.

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