My wish for the 20-plus players who signed with Auburn this year is that they will work hard to be successful and realize they have a truly great opportunity to play football in the best conference in the country while obtaining a great education at the same time.
If the players in the 2012 signee class are willing to come in and work hard for themselves in the classroom and on the field as well as work hard for their teammates, coaches and for Auburn, they have come to the university for the right reasons. If they do all of that, there is a real good chance they will be successful.
A big part of the equation for success is the type of coaching the players receive. Football coaches come in all different sizes and shapes with a wide variety of personalities, but I think there are a couple things that all of the good ones have in common. One is that they are willing to make tough decisions for the good of the team. Another is they know how to get the attention and respect of their players. Still another is they know how to inspire their players to want to perform to their potential.
There is a fine line for coaches to travel while developing young football players. Yes, they need to be tough and demanding, but at the same time they need to avoid being arrogant, hard-headed and compulsive. Players will grow to resent that type of leadership.
In my experience the good ones will rise to the challenges presented by a demanding coach, one who is not going accept anything but a player's best effort. The ability to successfully coach players that way separates the good coaches from the bad ones, and the great coaches from the good ones. To be able to get the best out of a player, it is important that he understand the demands being placed on him are for his own good.
Earning the respect of a player you are coaching hard is not always an easy thing to do. However, when I look back over my playing days I realize the men I respected the most were the ones who were the most honest, letting me know exactly where I stood with them and the team. They were also the most demanding because they wanted to make me a better player. The coaches who pushed me the hardest, because they had my best interest at heart, are the ones I?loved the most.
I have written it before, but I think it is worth repeating that I believe Auburn is in good hands with Gene Chizik directing the football program. That is a good thing for the incoming freshmen, who are going to have a chance to become everything they can be as football players and young men in the coming years.
(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.