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August 30, 2014

New beginnings

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AUBURN | There's nothing quite like the uncertainty that comes with each new football season.

I don't care if you're a player, a coach or a fan, it's hard to forecast the success of the upcoming season. Whether you've been buried at the bottom of the preseason polls or predicted to run the table, every guy in the locker room and every person in the seats knows their team has a shot.

As a guy that has been a part of good seasons, bad seasons and one magical season (2004), I can say honestly that I'm no better at predicting seasons than I was 10 years ago. I remember the pain and embarrassment in '03 as we opened with two losses out the gate and our championship dreams were shattered in early September.

I remember '04 because we barely cracked the preseason polls yet went on to have one of the best years in Auburn football history. The same can be said about 2010 when Cam and the boys took us on a ride we'll never forget.

Or how about last year -- the guys rallying behind a new coaching staff and a new quarterback as we made it all the way to the big game? Who saw that coming?

The bottom line is that regardless of recent success, regardless of returning starters, each year's team takes on a personality of its own. There are so many intangibles that are impossible for outsiders to measure: humility, leadership, work ethic.

Does this 2014 team have experience? How about talent? Does it have one of the best offseason programs in the country?

Yes, yes, and yes.

I'm excited about all three, but the thing I'm most excited about is the standard that has been set by our coaching staff. Starting with the head man, Gus Malzahn, to Coach Rodney Garner and all the way to Coach Ryan Russell. This staff is about one thing -- outworking the opponent.

The bar has been set and these young men have bought in. As a coach, your job is to teach, mentor and inspire these young men to be the best they can. This staff has done that.

The season is here. As a team, you've got to ignore the scoreboard. Our O-line must dominate the line of scrimmage! The Auburn D must swarm like a pack of starving wolves! There are no missed tackles when you've got 11 hats on the ball.

Play Auburn football and the score will take care of itself.

Jordan-Hare Stadium will be rocking and the eagle will fly! The AU family will pay tribute to the passing of two Auburn greats and even better people in Phillip Lutzenkirchen and David Langner. Both are missed everyday by the Auburn Family, which shows you just how deeply these ties run.

Auburn fans never forget the men who play the games.

For the first time since I was a kid, I will watch from the stands Saturday as other men fight for Auburn. I know our program's future is in great hands.

Let's go, AU!

Herring co-owns the Auburn University Club located just off North Donahue Drive. The Clubhouse is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.



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