The first thing I had to do when I took the job was learn more about the university because I had to sell Auburn as an institution for football prospects to come here for an education that they were going to use as a foundation to build the rest of their lives on.
Everywhere I went I talked to Auburn people and asked them questions about their backgrounds and what they thought about the university. It was interesting to listen to the wide range of responses I got on the subject, but there was a common theme.
The thing that was soon apparent to me is that Auburn really is different and that Auburn is a special place to Auburn people. Those who are outsiders don't really understand it, but I certainly figured out.
I think the students and others who love Auburn have something those other folks would like to have but don't have. That is an undying loyalty to the school regardless of what is going on whether it be the administration of the university, academics, athletics or whatever.
When discussing Auburn with outsiders, you seldom hear Auburn people talking bad about their university. Auburn people are certainly passionate about expressing their opinions when they are disappointed in how the university is performing in some areas, but it is my observation that the true Auburn people never waiver from having real loyalty to their school, which is what everybody would like to have in their university families and their own families.
In addition to talking to people about Auburn when I took the coaching position, I read everything I could find on Auburn and it didn't take me long to figure out that it is a special place where students can come and be the best they can be academically, athletically or in whatever area they wanted to have success in.
Auburn people have had tremendous success in so many areas. You can just go on, and on and on naming the examples. When I was coaching at Auburn we were fortunate to have lots of great athletes in the program, guys like Bo Jackson, who was exceptional in football and baseball, and Rowdy Gaines, who was the best swimmer in the world.
It has been 31 years since I moved here and began learning about Auburn. Fortunately, what makes Auburn special is still here and I can say that I have a real love for it.
I know a lot of people have had a love affair with Auburn all of their lives. They grew up with that as part of the family's culture and that is a great thing. Then there are others, like me, who came here later in life after having a lot of experiences in different places. We understand how special it is and that gives us an interesting perspective. It is why some of the most passionate Auburn supporters are people who discovered it later in their lives and I am one of them.
(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.