As you may have heard, the Gene Chizik hiring was not well received in parts of Alabama. But with denial and anger out of the way, some of the Auburn faithful are ready to bargain.
Former Coach Pat Dye and several former players turned out for Chizik's first press conference yesterday and went straight to work helping athletic director Jay Jacobs reassure the public that, hey .... it's all good, man!
"I think I was like a lot of Auburn people at first," said former quarterback Stan White, who provides color commentary for radio broadcasts of Auburn games. "It was kind of like, 'Wow.' It was just a surprise because it was such a quick thing. But having a day to digest it and hearing what other people have said about him, he might be the right fit for Auburn. Everyone I've talked with that knows him talks about his determination."
Former Tiger kicker Al Del Greco lukewarmedly agrees:
"My first reaction was a little bit of a shock," he said. "I voiced my concerns on my show (Monday), but as of 1 o'clock today when he became the football coach, my allegiance turned to him. We're going to have to wait until at least August to see how good a fit he is."
Not exactly ringing endorsements, but hey—we'll give the guy a shot, we guess, since we're kinda stuck with him now. Plus, if current Redskin Carlos Rogers would fly all the way in from Washington just to tell everyone about the "passion" of his former coach, what more do you need to know?
Coach Dye, for his part, weighed in with this email, allegedly sent to the Tiger family. The whole thing is reprinted below, but I think this part says ... something?
One thing I am sure of is that I know what it takes to win. Teams where everyone played with the same heartbeat had a chance to win championships; teams that were not able to play like that never reached their full potential.
Determination, passion, fully functioning aortic valves? I'm sold! War Eagle, baby!
Subject: A Note From Coach Pat Dye
From: Tigers Unlimited
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2008 9:39 PM
I woke up this morning with Auburn on my mind, which is not surprising since I went to sleep with Auburn on my mind.
This is a very emotional time for the Auburn family. We all have our own opinions about what is best for Auburn and about the impact that Auburn decisions will have on our lives.
I don't expect everyone who reads this to agree with everything I say, but I just want you to know what I feel in my heart. This time of transition we are going through now reminds me of the time in 1981 when I walked into a room full of football players who had many questions and doubts about me coming in as the new head football coach.
Their frustration showed in their faces, and anxiety was in their eyes because of the unknown. I had a simple message: Whether they had come to Auburn for the right reasons or the wrong reasons, they had chosen to get their education and to play football at Auburn University, which would lay the foundation for the rest of their lives.
I told them that Auburn had chosen me and that I had chosen Auburn. I asked them as a team to be loyal to Auburn and to love Auburn. I said that I would also be loyal to Auburn and would love Auburn, and this loyalty and love would be our common ground which would lay the foundation that would serve Auburn for many years to come.
There is a lot of misinformation out there right now. The media people have their jobs to do and should have our respect for doing those jobs. But unless an individual has served as president of a major university, has been on the board of trustees of a major university, or has been athletic director or head football coach at a major university, it is hard to grasp how the people in these positions make the decisions that affect so many.
Unless you have walked in their shoes, you cannot begin to understand all that is involved in the process of making these decisions.
In addressing the current situation pertaining to our Athletic Director, Jay Jacobs, and his decision to hire Gene Chizik as our new Head Coach, I applaud all parties involved in the process for allowing Jay Jacobs to do his job.
Nobody is more qualified to make this decision than Jay. He is a true Auburn man to the bone and understands better than anybody the kind of man we need to lead our football program into the future. Gene Chizik is that man.
Because of the years I was involved in football ? as a player, an assistant coach, a head coach, and as a part of teams that won championships at every level ? I learned something about winning. One thing I am sure of is that I know what it takes to win. Teams where everyone played with the same heartbeat had a chance to win championships; teams that were not able to play like that never reached their full potential.
We don't need to worry about what is going on around us. We only need to be concerned about what is going on at Auburn. And being the best we can be at Auburn will take care of what is going on around us. We are an Auburn family. Let's see if we can play with the same heartbeat.
I know winning is important to the Auburn people. But so is character. Jay Jacobs has it and so does Gene Chizik. Now we'll see if they can win. They are our team. I like it. War Eagle.
Coach Pat Dye