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Open letter to the Dawg Nation It sucks to lose, especially to one of our four main rivals. For many of us who bleed red and black, losing to the school on 75 in Florida leads to lost hopes for a championship, trash talking from the jorts nation, and a hangover that lasts for a while. As a representative of the Dawg Nation in Florida, those things are a part of my Sunday. It sucks to lose – and I am sure for those young men and coaches who fought for themselves, for the team, for the red and back, and for you and me – it sucks a bit more for them this morning. The significant injuries this week and last put the loss in perspective with life – but the loss still sucks and I feel it for them this morning (prayers for the players from both teams this morning – and special prayers and thankfulness that LeCounte is still with us). This letter is not about being sad or frustrated with what happened and what could have been if a play was different or if a player didn’t leave – it is a letter directly to the fan base of the Dawg Nation. We ask our team to show toughness and resilience week after week on that field. We ask them to work their tails off in the off season and to balance being a student athlete for the special joy of Saturday during football season. This year, we ask them to do all of those things during a time of so much confusion, frustration, division, and fear. And they answer the call time after time. They answer the call and some of our Nation let them down by being weak as pond water following a tough loss during a tough season. The posts calling for Kirby to be fired, insulting Bennet, calling out players and coaches by name are all ridiculous. These men have shown resiliency and toughness in a way I bet many of the trolls on the internet find it hard to understand. You want them to represent your hopes for a championship t-shirt and bragging rights and you miss how special the past several years have been. Now don’t get me wrong, I want that t-shirt too (I saw it in my head during the third quarter in the National Championship game against Bama), but I think it is time for our fan base to either get behind the team in the good times and the bad or to be the fan base that lets our team down when they need us the most. That is a decision we all make when we jump on the internet to make a comment behind the anonymity of a screen name. Every fan base has their trolls. Before the internet those trolls at least had to call into a radio show and let their voice be heard – I think the conversations were better then because they were conversations that we all heard on a scratchy AM radio station. They got feedback from the radio hosts and from other callers. Now, we have an echo chamber for the disappointed fans to solve the problems of college football with a single post. It is amazing how much coaching talent is on the internet every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. What would it be like to have those same people take a look at our own personal failures and shortcomings and call us out for something that they may not fully understand and that may not be fully controllable by us, them, or anybody. We don’t want to do that… we would rather berate our team with a standard that we would never apply to ourselves. Growingly, that is what we do in life with social media – remove a lot of specks from other folks’ eyes without taking a look at the plank in ours. That is what I love about sports. Sports shows you how our athletes and coaches deal with success and failure. Those who have played have had that opportunity. Fan bases have a similar opportunity – though less skin in the game (if you disagree, how sore are you this morning – how are your knees and ankles today). The problem is we want a resilient team but we don’t want to be a resilient fan base. Get over it – get behind out team – get behind our coaches – and be a fan. Questioning calls and being Monday morning quarterback is part of the sport – questioning people is not. Missouri waits for us next week. I bet you that team would love to be playing for a New Years Six game. I know our boys will be ready for that game – my question is will you be ready. To the coaching staff and players who are fighting on the field – thank you for leaving it all on the field. Thank you for working 365 days a year to let us see you for just a few hours on Saturdays in the fall. Be tougher than some of your fan base and know there are many of us who bleed red and black, win or lose. We see you working – we see you responding. Keep your head up.