What A Ride…

By Posted on: December 13th, 2013 in Member Post 20 Comments »
SEC Championship Football.JPEG-045a9- SEC Champs

                                                                                                  (photo:Mickey Welsh, Montgomery Adv.)
Well, first and foremost, WAR EAGLE!

Wow, what a crazy ride these last 4 years have been for us as a family, Holland family and of course the AU family as well. I can’t imagine a more “high to low to high” period in Auburn football history to be a part of – not to mention all the last minute comebacks, miraculous plays, thrilling wins and championships won.

Auburn has been an elite program for a long, long time – much more-so than the pundits like to give us credit for – but these last 4 years…well, in my view, will have to go down at some of the worst and the best. But, it’s ending on a very positive note and we couldn’t have asked for any better.

The beauty is; I think it’s a safe bet that we won’t be seeing any “worsts” anytime soon. Coach Malzahn is here for awhile. This staff is AUsome. Our philosophy – offense/defense and team identity – is right for Auburn. That’s a great thing. This proud university, the football program itself, alumnus and fans deserve that.

How can one put into the proper context what we’ve witnessed this season. These kids – and I know most of them – what they’ve done…WOW. Remarkable. It’s hard to predict how history will reflect upon this team. I think it’s certain to say they won’t be considered Auburn’s best team by any stretch no matter how they finish. They won’t produce the “most” NFL players or garner the most post-season awards. I would have to contend, though, they will likely be favored as Auburn’s most resilient group of all-time.

Coming off of last season, these guys were hurting, deeply. They were looking for answers and moreover, hope. Coach Malzahn and this staff renewed that hope, that trust, by defining purpose and direction. The players provided the effort and courage AND they NEVER let go of the rope. Their will and determination has never wavered- not once – this entire season. We’ve seen no “deer in the headlights” moments. We’ve seen no turmoil. There’s been little to no off-the-field trouble. I haven’t seen any pointing of fingers, no sideline issues, no resistance to follow those  in authority. That’s hard to conceive, honestly, literally right on the heels of such a monumental fall and influx of total despair. Credit belongs to those guys in the arena.

What we HAVE seen is commitment, unselfish behavior, poise, great effort, no fear and a total, without exception dedication to each other and the uniform they wear, the University they represent and the fans they play for.  Congrats on a job well-done. All things considered, the best I’ve ever witnessed. We don’t have many seniors but my, my, my…what we may lack in number, they’ve sure made up for in quality. A HUGE thank you to those guys.

Yet, we still have unfinished business. The mission isn’t complete. There’s work to be done. If I’ve ever had total confidence in a staff and bunch of players to get it done, I’ve got it with these guys. Here’s to the conclusion of the ride…and my goodness, what a ride it’s been.

War Eagle! 

  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……It seemed to me last season, that the players didn’t believe in the staff and the plan. I know none of those guys will come out and say that. They are coached not to reflect negatively on the program, and I understand that.But if there’s no confidence in what’s being schemed up on the field, how can we expect anyone to make the sacrifices necessary to win in this league?

    ……We fans will still “armchair quarterback” some coaching strategy decisions, but at least this year there’s a commitment to stick with what’s working. That’s all we really asked for after last season. At least put the players in the best position to be successful. This staff has managed that in spades!

    ……It’s really a tribute to all the seniors who have stuck around for the full run, despite the tough losses and criticism, starting with Jake Holland, who’s been filling gaps since he stepped on campus. Guys like Dee Ford and Nosa Eguae, who were part of a much-maligned line the past two seasons. Chris Davis, who we first saw rotated onto the field as a true freshman back in early 2010, and asked to cover Alshon Jeffery for a few snaps here and there. Ryan Smith and Ryan White, who toiled in obscurity till they were called on midway through this year. Steven Clark and Cody Parkey, who have kept Auburn in games throughout their tenure with their kicking legs. And finally, Jay Prosch, the all-star fullback who transferred to Auburn, only to be sat down on the bench for more than half Auburn’s snaps last year.

    • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

      Acid, you touch on one of the great story lines of this season in my opinion. How many guys were either maligned to almost indignation or all but forgotten last season only to rise from the ashes to claim respect and honor. I’ve never seen anything like it. You named many of them above but add in Therezie as well, who didnt even play much last year and moved to running back at one point. Also and though he managed to rush for 1000yds, Tre couldnt hardly beg a carry at times last year. ??. It’s hard to conceive, really. Anyway, we can all leak over into conjecture about the rhyme or reason of the past but to me the important thing is the resurgence. Wow, what a story so many of them can tell now.

      • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

        …..I tried to name all the seniors in the playing rotation, above. Therezie is a junior. I remember watching him as an A-Day starter in 2012, being impressed, and then we hardly saw him during the fall. Tre Mason’s carries were a huge pet peeve of mine with the Loeffense. I was there at the Arkansas game, and we could hardly get a first down. Mason had a couple of big runs, but they only gave him six carries in that game. It still boggles my mind. That Arkansas game was when I knew for sure the team was in trouble.

    • DaZeD DaZeD says:

      Sammy Coates actually did try to go Code Red on his fellow teammates last season, but Chizik covered it up and quelled Coates inflammatory hellraising before it had any chance of gaining traction. I, for one, am glad to see Chizik gone, and have never had any issues with a player getting fed up with complacency and lollygagging by his peers. Maybe if Chizik would’ve backed Coates, things might’ve gotten better. Last season, our players mailed in the 2nd half of every game (exception LSU) for the first half of the season, then basically “showed up” for the latter half. Chizik’s hiring of Loeffler was probably about as bad as Tommy hiring Tony Franklin….look no further than Loeffler’s impact at Va-Tech. They have a putrid offense this year!
      Glad we have long-term competency signed to a a lucrative contract now! War Eagle!

  2. KungFuPanda9 KungFuPanda9 says:

    Give me a kid who won’t quit, who will give everything he has to achieve the goal, and I can build an army of warriors. Dedication, sacrifice, discipline, effort, commitment, these are things which can’t be faked. When men are fatigued, or faced with seemingly no-win situations, the qualities mentioned are what separate success from failure.

    The fiercest enemy isn’t always the biggest or strongest. It is the man who will not quit who poses the most daunting challenge to his opponent. This team has shown the Auburn family that each man has the heart of a lion.

    There have been times this season when they were faced with seemingly impossible odds against winning. But they did not allow negative thoughts to deter their belief in each other. The thought of losing was compartmentalized. The second half of the LSU game was such a test of their will.

    Not unlike a new soldier’s baptism by fire, the kids were obviously overwhelmed by the big stage in their first away game and, coupled with the psychological and physical effects of the torrential downpour, made nervous mistakes and suffered lapses in mental concentration. But they regrouped and began performing to a high degree. That was an important milestone in their development as a championship quality team.

    Every Auburn fan should be proud of these guys. They are performing, some might say, above their skill level. I think they are performing to a high degree because of hard work and mental discipline. Each man deserves to be on this championship team because he has earned it.

    • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

      KungFuP9:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. For me as well, the LSU second half sold me on these guys. I saw something in them that was not only refreshing but was clearly a sign of things to come. I’ll never forget going down to see the players after that game. They were pissed off (for a lack of better words) but in the right way. They didn’t feel defeated, they felt robbed of an opportunity to finish. They truly believed they should’ve won. They smelled it and felt it. I knew then we were made of the right stuff. Subsequently, we beat TAMU on the road and to the surprise to those that know me well (I am no prognosticator), I predicted then that we would run the table. I had that much confidence in our kids belief and the direction of the team.

  3. Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

    I’ve said it in past post but because the conference(s) now get their identity from the offensive scheme, there is a built in benefit of having an offensive guru/coordinator as your head coach. You never have to wonder about the offensive plan or how to recruit or what the goals are. With Chizik, we had strong leadership and arguably better defenses but he was so dependent on Gus’ offensively. Well, the SEC rule is you never get to keep good coordinators long so when Gus left, the team was once again faced with redefining itself offensively. New scheme, new plans, different recruiting approach and I think Gene was having difficulty leading through that transition and it apparently made its way into the locker room.

    Gus comes back and the players have restored faith because they’ve seen his plan work and he still has disciples on the team who probably still have the 2010 playbook sitting under their xbox. We now have our identity back, confidence, swagger, etc… Had Gus come back and the new project tanked early on, we might not have recovered. I think the WSU and MSU wins were critical in winning the player’s confidence back. I think HCs who don’t have their hands directly on the offense will struggle in the future with how the game is changing.

    Defense is reactionary; you have to make your plans based on the different offensive schemes you face each week. Your core stays the same (4-2-5) but you recruit size, speed, aptitude and kids with sand in their shorts. The SEC defenses are still strong, if not, the NFL wouldn’t be grabbing up about 50+ each year.

    Auburn is in great position for the future because we now know who we are offensively and we won’t have to redefine ourselves after a couple of years of success because we lost our offensive identity when we lost our offensive coordinator. Because of the high powered offenses today, I would not build my program around a defensive head coach.

    • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

      Tigerstripe: You make some very valid points in my view and I touched on some of that in my initial post: “Our philosophy – offense/defense and team identity – is right for Auburn.”

      • Tigerstripe Tigerstripe says:

        BTW, Jake is my boys favorite and my daughter wasn’t too happy when he cut his hair… WDE!

        • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

          Well, tell your children War Eagle from the Hollands! As for the hair, his dad is very happy it’s been cut. :)

  4. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Jeff, I think this Auburn team could play with any college team, of any era. Anytime, anywhere. They believe in themselves, they believe in their teammates, and they believe in their coaches. They are the embodiment of the word TEAM, and I think they would find a way to beat any team they faced. My favorite football teams of all-time are AU 1970, the ’72 Amazins’, ’72 Miami Dolphins, AU ’83, AU ’04, AU ’10, but I think this AU ’13 team has surpassed them all. I say that not just because they win, but because they are winners in every sense of the word. To accomplish what they have accomplished so far this season, after the disaster of last season, is the stuff of legend.

    I haven’t seen this degree of commitment, and enthusiasm since Pat Dye arrived on campus. Malzahn and his staff have somehow managed to take these things to an even higher level. From bottom to top, inside to outside, this is the best Auburn football organization I have seen in my lifetime, and they are just beginning to scratch the surface of their potential.

    • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

      Third Gen Tiger: I do believe this team believes as you do. I mean that. And that’s where it starts.

  5. KoolBell KoolBell says:

    First, I want to thank you for all you and your family has done for Auburn. Most fans don’t realize just how much effort you and and yours put into that recruiting class that your son signed with. I will be forever grateful for that, and the class that your son handles all his detractors with. The apple certainly did not fall far from the tree.

    Secondly, there are tons of articles written each year about the Seniors on ball teams all around the country. I would say that there is not one story that comes close in comparison to what this Auburn team, and those wonderful Seniors have experienced. There are many life lessons in this drama, that Hollywood could never come close to capturing on screen.

    Thanks again,

    WAR EAGLE!

    • Jeff Holland Jeff Holland says:

      Koolbell: thanks so much for the kind words. As for the seniors, I agree wholeheartedly. Indeed, stuff that movies are made about.

  6. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    I agree wtih everything everyone has said about these wonderful Tigers of ours. I was only able to see the last ten minutes of the LSU game and, without knowing the score, it would have been easy to think that Auburn was either winning or about to be winning. This moment defined the entire season. It puts a dagger into my heart to lose to the local tigers but that game wasn’t a loss, it was a beginning. These guys will not quit. They are THE DEFINITION OF THE AUBURN SPIRIT. Seminoles, beware!

    And, win or lose, IT’S ALWAYS GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    BEAT THE SEMINOLES !!!

  7. AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

    To me these seniors can best be defined by:

    “I believe in work, hard work …
    I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities… (And)
    I believe in Auburn and love it!”

  8. AUTiger says:

    It has been quite a year. I thought a bowl game was our best bet at the beginning of the year. Let’s make sure we hold onto this Malzahn guy for a long time. I can’t wait to play FSU!

    WAR EAGLE!