With Auburn hiring two head coaches on the same day last Friday, it reminded me of making my move from the University of Wyoming to Auburn to coach the football Tigers starting with the 1981 season. Like happened in my situation after I got to know Auburn better, I think new baseball coach Sunny Golloway and new softball coach Clint Myers will be impressed with what they find.
What they will have to do like I did, and this is the case with any coach coming to a new job in a new university for them, they will need to learn as much about the school as they can as quickly as they can. Coaches can sell their program, their philosophy and in particular their ability to teach their sport to athletes, but ultimately they need to learn about Auburn because the university itself is going to be their biggest asset.
When I first came to Auburn I didn’t know that was going to be the case. Putting together our coaching staff and finishing up recruiting were the first priorities when I started at Auburn. I remember my education about the university really intensified when I started going to Auburn Club meetings and spending time with the people at those events.
Everywhere I went when I talked to former students or athletes I never failed to ask them what prompted them to come to Auburn. A lot of them said things like they started going there when they were young with their parents, an uncle, a brother or a sister, their grandparents or even friends and that they just fell in love with the place. When it was time for them to go to college, Auburn was where they wanted to be.
It soon became clear to me that a theme was developing. These folks had a real love for the university and that it was an important part of their lives. Auburn was a place where they enhanced their education, but it was more than that.
I also realized if you could get people to spend time on the campus around the people there was a good chance they would really like what they found. That proved to be true during my time as coach and athletic director at Auburn. I found that my staff and the coaching staffs in other sports had a lot of success at signing athletes they were able to bring to campus to experience the place.
I remember the folks at those initial Auburn Club meetings talking about their school with such a passion. I really wanted to know why they felt that way. I knew from playing and coaching against Auburn the university could produce athletic teams that were special, but after being here in Auburn I found out what was really special is the spirit of the school. I also found that spirit is deep-rooted and goes way back long before I arrived.
I think the new head coaches on campus, including Gus Malzahn in football, can really benefit from the quality of the institution, the quality of the people here and the loyalty of Auburn people. I think that gives any coach at this university a chance to compete at the highest level.
(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 writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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