Dear Ex-Head Coach Tony Barbee:
In a recent interview with Kyle Tucker of The Courier-Journal, you said the following:
"I'm the worst loser that there is, so (Auburn) was tough in that way. It's nice being on the other side of the fence again, knowing every time you step on the floor in a game, you've got a legitimate chance to win. That's always a different feeling, and I haven't felt that in a while."
Let’s get to the heart of your statement: every time you stepped on the floor while head coach of Auburn, you felt like you were going to lose the game. Got it.
However, here is what you don’t understand. The Auburn fans felt that. Your assistant coaches felt that. Your opponents felt that. Most importantly, your players felt that.
That negative attitude was a big part of your tenure at Auburn. Our new coach, Bruce Pearl, did more to raise excitement and anticipation his first week on campus than you did during your entire four years. Appearing in a dunk tank for charity? HA! That might have ruined your expensive Italian shoes. Your assistants were more worried about getting to Loco’s on Monday for wing night than spending that extra hour or two studying tape.
You often lamented on the lack of attendance at games, but did you go out of your way to promote the team or games? No. You just figured fans would come. Well, they are coming now. Did you happen to hear? Auburn sold out season tickets this year. Amazing what a coach with a positive attitude and excitement about his players can do to a fan base.
That’s okay, though. We like the coach we have now on the Plains. Despite his past troubles (which he owned up to in his first press conference), we know that he is making his best effort to rally Auburn fans around the team on the court. Last night, ESPN commentators mentioned how there were over 1,000 Tiger fans in the stands at the Auburn-Vanderbilt game. Oh, it was in Nashville as well.
You? You can go ride the coattail of John Calipari, one of the best coaches in college basketball today, and win a lot of games all the while thinking that you are the reason for Kentucky’s success. You might even win a national championship or two…as an assistant. I suppose it is easy to have that “different feeling” when you aren’t actually the man in charge.
You can also put “coached All-Americans” on your resume for when you want to give it a try as head coach again. I just hope the hiring committees of those schools bring up that quote.
Have you seen the movie Rounders? In it, Matt Damon’s character says, “If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”
Well, Tony, we were the suckers, but YOU were the problem, not Auburn.