Knowing Auburn people I am sure a lot of them are excited to get a first look at their 2012 football team this Saturday and visit the campus for the A-Day weekend. I know I am looking forward to the game and some of the other events going on in Auburn.
I am particularly excited about the ceremony honoring Auburn’s three Heisman Trophy winners on Saturday before playing the spring game in the afternoon. Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson and Cam Newton were special football players and certainly deserve the recognition they are getting.
During the A-Day game we will get a look at how the football team is developing with new coordinators on both defense and offense. Last year’s team had its good moments and highlights, but it had its struggles, too. The assignment for new coaches Brian VanGorder and Scot Loeffler is to allow Gene Chizik to put an improved football team on the field this fall. From what I have seen so far I believe that is going to happen.
Despite a busy schedule on Saturday, I am going to make sure I am the stadium to see how the team looks in its first appearance in front of a crowd, which I suspect will be a good crowd with the Heisman ceremony taking place that day and with the curiosity about the changes to the offense and defense.
On Saturday morning and during the afternoon I will be at the Jules Collins Smith Museum helping with a fundraiser. That evening I will be just up the street at the arboretum for the Night in New Orleans event that is a fundraiser to help the arboretum, which is one of my favorite spots on the Auburn campus.
Last weekend I thoroughly enjoyed one of my great sporting events of the year, The Masters, which is special to me because I grew up just outside of Augusta, not far from the course.
When I was really young and didn’t know any better, I thought everybody who played golf was a sissy and didn’t play the sport myself. However, as I grew older and wiser and learned more about the mental toughness needed to play at the level of the golfers who are good enough to be champions of The Masters, my respect for their ability grew.
I still remember playing there on a Monday after the final round of the tournament the year Jack Nicklaus set the tournament scoring record. I vividly remember trying to putt on those greens that were lightning fast. A lot of places you could place a ball on the greens that were so slick that no matter what you did your ball would roll off the putting surface. Experiencing that myself gave me an even greater level of respect for how the top pros are able to manage their way around that golf course.
When I was really young I didn’t realize just what a big deal around the country and the world The Masters was, but when I was older in high school and helped at the golf course holding the ropes in the 1950s during the tournament I sure did. After standing a couple of feet away from Ben Hogan and watching him hit a seven iron three feet from the pin I was impressed. Being able to watch golfers like Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Jimmy Demaret, Dr. Cary Middlecoff and others I realized how challenging golf is.
That is why this past Sunday I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV because of my appreciation and admiration for all of those golfers who were in contention down the stretch. In my opinion one of the most exciting days in American sports is the Sunday afternoon of The Masters when the players at the top of the leader board make the turn and hit the back nine. With all of the history of great comebacks and major collapses on those holes, it is a lot of fun to watch.
This year’s was certainly entertaining with Bubba Watson, a country kid from Baghdad, Fla., which is so small I?have never heard of it, winning on the second playoff hole. He hit one of the greatest golf shots I have seen to escape from a terrible lie in the woods turning what looked like a sure loss into a dramatic victory.
(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.
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