By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Gregg Carr says, in terms of toughness, Auburn’s spring practices in 1981 could rival any in college football history.
“There were no holds barred, it was physical, and it was incredibly mental,” says Carr, a freshman linebacker in 1981 when Pat Dye arrived.
“What we ended with after four weeks of really just an all-out assault on the football field was a bunch of guys who really believed and bought into what Coach Dye was trying to instill in us,” Carr says. “We all felt to a man that we had been through something incredibly taxing and physical, and I think it set the groundwork for what was to happen at Auburn over the ensuing several years.”
Three years later, Auburn won the 1983 SEC Championship with Carr leading the Tigers in tackles for the second straight year.
“Those teams were just loaded with talent,” says Carr, whose 453 career tackles rank second in Auburn history behind Freddie Smith’s 528. “I think whoever was blessed to play linebacker on those teams would have had some success because it was pretty easy to do my job based on what I was surrounded by.”
A first-team All-American in 1984, Carr and former Auburn star Buddy McClinton, a defensive back from 1967-69, are candidates for the College Football Hall of Fame’s 2018 Class.
“I think that there are a lot more people who are far more deserving than myself, but I am very honored that Auburn would nominate me,” Carr says. “I’m very grateful to be able to represent Auburn.”
The 2018 Class, typically consisting of 11 to 13 players from among 75 Bowl subdivision and 98 divisional candidates, will be announced on Jan. 8 in Atlanta before the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1985, Carr played four NFL seasons before giving up football for medicine. An orthopedic surgeon in his hometown of Birmingham, Carr received the NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Award in 2010 for his professional and civic contributions.
Gregg Carr, with 1983 SEC Championship teammate Jay Jacobs, Auburn's Director of Athletics, received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in 2010.
“When I think back about any success I have, I think back to Coach Dye, who instilled in us a confidence and a recipe for success,” says Carr, a 2008 Alabama Sports Hall of Fame inductee and member of the 2010 SEC Legends class. “He basically gave us a blueprint - for those guys who were willing to listen - a blueprint for being able to be successful. And, it wasn’t complicated. It was hard work, and setting goals, working hard to achieve those goals.
“That’s easier said than done - saying it and doing it are two different things, and I think that Coach Dye really taught us how to get there. I was a very different person when I left Auburn than when I got there. I grew emotionally, physically, spiritually, and intellectually.
“It was just that whole experience with Auburn - the school, the athletic department, the football program - it was just an incredible experience for me, and it afforded me multiple opportunities. I took from Auburn so much more than I could ever give back, and for that, I will be forever grateful to the University and to Coach Dye, and to Coach Frank Orgel, who was my position coach.
“Coach Orgel believed in me, just like Coach Dye, when I didn’t believe in myself. They were mentors, they were father figures, they were leaders, and those guys helped to transform my whole life.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer