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Word from Jay Jacobs

Jan. 19, 2017

Coach Bruce Pearl didn't talk about buzzer beaters or memorable tournament runs when asked about his 500th career win.

He talked about family. He talked about people. He talked about how much it means to live and coach in Auburn.

Pearl thanked everyone who helped him along the way. Players and parents. Assistant coaches and administrators. All those who gave him a chance to pursue his passion, the job he calls a ministry.

Pearl 500 Wins
Coach Bruce Pearl celebrates his 500th career win with the help of his players and Charles Barkley.

Bruce Pearl 500th Win

It reminded me of the day Coach Pearl agreed to come to Auburn. It was not just his passion, his success or his knowledge of the game that made him the perfect man for the job. It was his commitment to seeing his players graduate. It was his burning desire for giving back to the community and supporting the university at every turn. It was his passion to empower young men to be the best they can be on the court and in the game of life.

Coach Pearl was the perfect fit for Auburn, and he's the perfect man for the future of our program.

There is no question the level of talent on our team is higher than it has been in years. As several former basketball lettermen shared during their recent reunion weekend, it takes time to build a program with a history of struggles. To a man, they all said our young team is vastly improved. Give it time, they said, and special things will happen.

You are a part of helping elevate our program to the next level. As Coach Pearl said in a recent letter to season ticket holders, we need Auburn basketball supporters to pack the arena every game. When Auburn Arena is rocking, it is a huge advantage for our team.

I personally want to congratulate Coach Pearl on this magnificent milestone. With this week's win over LSU, he became only the third active coach in the SEC to reach 500 wins.

The best news of all? We will have many more to celebrate together.

Getting it done academically

Graduating our student-athletes has been a top strategic focus of our department, and our student-athletes are performing at the highest level in history academically.

We have a record number of student-athletes with 3.0 or better GPAs. Our Graduation Success Rate was the highest ever when the NCAA released the latest scores in the fall.

The Auburn football program has been an integral part of our academic success the past several seasons. It was gratifying to see 18 football players wearing "SEC Graduate" patches on their jerseys at the end of the season.

SEC Graduates Jersey Patch

Jersey
A total of 18 players competed in the Sugar Bowl as Auburn graduates.

This class of graduates included many outstanding young men who have done great things beyond the football field. There are too many to mention them all here. But I am particularly proud of graduates like Montravius Adams and Marcus Davis.

They demonstrate that student-athletes who attend Auburn can make their dreams come true, whether it is preparing to enter the NFL draft or growing up on The Plains to become Auburn men of integrity who give their time for the greater good.

Just this week, Davis learned he has been selected to attend an upcoming SEC Football Student-Athlete Leadership Council. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey created the leadership council to provide more athletes more opportu nities to engage with campus leaders and conference office staff.

Watching Marcus Davis grow physically, mentally and spiritually since he came to Auburn four years ago—as a wide-eyed young man from south Florida chasing a dream after a long and at times tough journey—has been uplifting for all of us lucky enough to know him.

Football fans at Auburn and beyond know Montravius as a menacing defensive lineman who disrupts opposing offenses. What they might not know is Mon was blessed with more than quick hands and unusually agile feet. He also has the biggest heart and the best spirit of anyone I know.

Montravius spent a week last summer volunteering with Camp iCare at Schmid Elementary School in Chicago. His goal is to make it to the NFL. His dream is to take care of his family and start a non-profit foundation to help people in rural Georgia, where he learned to be the man of the house at an early age in addition to becoming one of the most highly sought prospects in the nation.

Montravius Adams
Montravius Adams spent a week volunteering at Schmid Elementary School in Chicago through Camp iCare.

Montravius Adams

Montravius Adams spent a week volunteering at Schmid Elementary School in Chicago through Camp iCare. Mon and Marcus are the kind of people with the kind of stories that make Auburn special. They are the kind of student-athletes who make our work in Auburn Athletics more rewarding than even the euphoric feeling of seeing a team win a championship.

We could not do that without your support. It does more than help us build excellent facilities and hire great coaches. It helps fund and fuel the dreams of more than 500 student-athletes who give their all to represent Auburn every day.

So thank you. You are making dreams come true.

Marcus Davis
Auburn's Marcus Davis has been selected for a new SEC leadership program created by Commissioner Greg Sankey

Marcus Davis

Auburn's Marcus Davis has been selected for a new SEC leadership program created by Commissioner Greg Sankey.

People often ask me if things slow down after football season, but as the weather turns colder, the activity only picks up for Auburn Athletics.

Our men's and women's basketball teams are in the heart of conference play, so come out and support them at Auburn Arena. Our women's team is once again playing exceptionally well. They play and fight as hard as any team you will see, as shown once more in a 17-point comeback win over Vanderbilt recently. Like our men's team, they are fun to watch.

The defending National Champion equestrian team is back in action this weekend on the road, and excitement is building at Jane B. Moore Field. Our softball team is once again highly ranked as it prepares for its season opener.

Could it get any better than this? Coach Clint Myers' team opens the season in Mexico against defending National Champion Oklahoma. I probably do not need to remind you the Tigers and Sooners played for it all in the Women's College World Series finale last spring in a series for the ages.

I am equally excited to see Auburn baseball prepare for its season opener under the outstanding leadership of Butch Thompson. This will mark the first season Coach Thompson and his staff will field a team after a full offseason of work.

Auburn baseball fans will enjoy several new improvements at Plainsman Park, from new seats, a new video board and sound system to dynamic LED lighting.

Coach Thompson and his staff are doing it the right way. They are recruiting outstanding players who are also outstanding young men, and their expertise and commitment to player development will soon begin to show on the field.

Other teams already in action or preparing to compete include gymnastics, swimming, track, tennis and golf.

Last spring was one for the record books for many of our sports, and I know more good things are coming in 2017. I know that because the group of men and women we have hired to lead and coach our student-athletes is collectively the best Auburn has ever had.

I look forward to a great year. And I hope to see you in Auburn soon.

Be sure to check out our teams' schedules on AuburnTigers.com. There are plenty of good reasons to make it a day or a weekend and visit the place we all call home.

God Bless and War Eagle!

Jay Jacobs

You can also follow me on Twitter at @jayjacobsauad.

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