Dye-Gest: Dealing With a Gut-Wrenching Loss

College Football Hall of Fame coach Pat Dye writes about Auburn's football loss to Georgia and closing the regular season for the Tigers.

I’ve been sick since just like everybody else who loves Auburn and watched the Auburn-Georgia game on Saturday night. I grieved all day on Sunday. I was not sick physically, but I was sick mentally. However, I’ve now got my mojo back and am ready for some more football.

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There ain’t a thing in the world we can do about what happened on Saturday in Athens. The only thing we can do anything about is this coming Saturday, and the Saturday after that, and then in the bowl game.

For the Tigers a lot of things didn’t go as planned against the Bulldogs as they struggled on offense. If you have never had to make those decisions on the sideline during a game, don’t say you know what it’s like. When the tough decisions work they are called great ones. The week before the Tigers brought Sean White in at halftime and it was called a great decision. They brought him out Saturday as the starter and it didn’t work and it has been called a bad decision because the Tigers didn’t win on Saturday, but you know what? They’ve got the same problem at Texas A&M, at Michigan, at Clemson and at Washington this week. All over this country half the teams lost.

When you lose you look for people to blame. You don’t have to go any further than the television set for an example of that to see the demonstrations all over the country because their team lost the election. That’s just human nature and that’s the way it is.

The only thing you can do that’s not counter-productive is to go back out on the field, close ranks and get yourself and your side ready to fight the next battle. That’s coming up Saturday against Alabama A&M while knowing that you’ve got the biggest one of the year coming up the following week when you get to Tuscaloosa.

The way this team finishes is going to be how it is remembered. I?have had to live with losses like the one on Saturday that just eat your guts out. In 1986 we lost to Georgia and lost the conference championship because of the loss in a game we were favored to win, just like Saturday’s game in Athens. Our loss in 1986 was a different kind of game. Jeff Burger, who was our quarterback, threw three interceptions that day. However, we didn’t give up on him and he didn’t give up on himself.

Two weeks later Burger made a play on fourth down vs. Alabama. If he doesn’t make it we get beat.

From what I?have seen of Sean White, I would just as soon have him on the field to make a play with the game on the line as anybody I ever coached. I don’t know exactly how hurt he was on Saturday, but as a coach you have to make those tough decisions in the heat of the competition on who gives your team the best chance to win. If your decisions work you are hero, but if they don’t you have got to be strong enough and man enough to live with the results and not let it affect you going forward.

My message to the players, the coaches and the fans is to love Auburn and be the best that we can be in these last two regular season ball games. You know miracles do happen and we may have one left.

If you look around this conference and evaluate what’s going on, do you think they’re happy at Missouri? You think they’re happy in Knoxville? You think they’re happy in Florida? You think they’re happy in Baton Rouge, La., Fayetteville, Ark., College Station, Tex., or at Mississippi or Mississippi State? It’s the nature of the game. It’s a big boys’ game and right now about the whole conference is hurting although I doubt there are many teams around the country that want to jump in down here and play an SEC schedule. However, we have only one bell cow team in the league at the moment and that one is in Tuscaloosa.

What I believe might not resonate with some Auburn people, but it resonates with me. When I look at Auburn’s team this year I think about 2010 and 2013 and what those teams did with a lot of the same guys coaching. They haven’t forgotten how to coach, but when you are in their situation you realize that every decision you make on the sideline is going be scrutinized by thousands of people in the stands and millions on television. As a coach you deal with that, learn from that and move on to the next challenge.

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