A lot of it, early on, will be about football, which has been my life since 1956 and I feel comfortable talking about it. I think over the course of playing for 13 years and coaching for 27 years and being a big fan for the last 20 years, that I have developed a healthy respect and a good knowledge of what the game is all about and what it takes to win because I have been involved in winning championships at every level.
We won the state championship in high school my senior year. We won the conference championship at Georgia in 1959. We won championships when I was coaching at Alabama and we won championships when I was coaching at Auburn.
I also know what it is like to go through a campaign or a season where expectations are high and you don't quite reach them. We did that in high school. We got to into the playoffs and got to the final game and we got beat, but with the right mindset, character, guts, courage and the right coaches, we took a lesser football team to the playoffs the next year and won the state championship so I know those things can be done. We did the same thing at Georgia in '59 when we were picked eighth or ninth and won the SEC championship.
I also know the other side of it. We were picked No. 1 in the nation in 1984 at Auburn and we ended up with just a mediocre football team. I know that a lot about the game of football has nothing to do with talent and ability. The intangibles involved around the game are very important and I am going to say that those intangibles, for the most part, come from the coaches because of what they demand from their players in discipline and work ethic. Knowledge of the game by coaches and the overall philosophy of football, what it is all about, are very important.
I want to share with the readers of The Dye-Gest, in the early part of this season, some of the intangibles that I think are vital in winning in college football or any football--high school or pro. In doing so, I think for people who love football and like to watch it, I can provide insight and information and explain it in such a manner that they can understand it.
It is important to understand how turnovers have such an impact on a game or how penalties have such an impact, too, and how the kicking game has a major impact.
The pure fundamentals of the game have an impact, too, for example just the fundamental part of tackling that determines whether you are a good tackling football team or a poor tackling football team can have a major impact on winning or losing a game. The yardage you gain after contact is minimized against a good tackling team. If you miss tackles you can take a five-yard run and it turns into a 75-yard touchdown run.
Conditioning, from a standpoint of working year-around and developing players mentally, physically and spiritually to be the best they can possibly be as individuals has a major impact on a team's success. Then you move on to the team concept. A team that has got the same mentality as a winning individual has a great chance to be successful. In football it is critical to get all 11 people on the field playing with the same mindset and playing for the same goals.
A perfect example of that is when a team throws a 70-yard touchdown pass, but the flanker lines up on the line of scrimmage, which makes it an illegal formation. or the tackle lines up in the backfield, which also makes it an illegal formation. There can be 10 people doing exactly what they are supposed to do and they all got a plus on the play, but one tackle can make one mistake and cost the team that otherwise perfectly executed 70-yard touchdown play. That is why discipline in football to do the little things correctly creates the big things. That is one of the intangibles about the game.
An example of the same thing on defense is a third down and long situation. You can have a great defensive team and you go back there and sack the quarterback for a 15-yard loss, but you are not going to get your big play or get the ball back if the other end jumps offside. On that play you have 10 players doing exactly what they are supposed to do, but all of their effort is eliminated by one mistake.
That is why penalties and turnovers, as well as the intangibles involved around the game, are so critical. And the most critical part of a football game is probably the kicking game because you are kicking for points, trying to prevent points from being scored or it is a change of possession situation. In those situations a penalty's importance is magnified.
There are lot of things I think we can talk about in this column that go into making a successful football team, but on some days the Dye-Gest it might be about something else, and I think we can come up with some wisdom whether it be about football or about life that folks will enjoy reading.
Editor's Note: This is the first week for a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye will write for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, Dye participates weekly 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 will write three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.