31 years ago this fall David Housel was kind enough to post my father’s letter in the game program of the Auburn-Georgia game. As we approach another football season, I’d like to take a moment and thank David.
David has been officially been a part of Auburn for more than 40 years. I have no doubt that he was just born Auburn. He has been the Director of Athletics Emeritus at Auburn University since January 2006. While at Auburn I knew him as our Sports Information Director from ’81-’94.
His lesser-known title was Host of the TNDC… but we’ll leave that one alone for now.
Before I get to my personal thanks, I want to thank David for his years of commentary through his columns in the game-day programs and on the pregame shows. We all enjoy the great stories from yesteryear that help keep the connection to the history and tradition of Auburn football with today’s new generation of Auburn people. For me, this is incredibly special.
A bit the backstory — I walked-on at Tennessee in 1984, it didn’t work out, and I transferred to Auburn. It was one of the best decisions I made in my life, but it wasn’t easy. Shortly after I transferred my father and best friend passed away suddenly at 53. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. The only way I made it through was with the support of my Auburn family.
While at Tennessee the coaches didn’t think I was good enough to play for the Vols. My father wrote me in a letter to offer encouragement and keep me focused on my goal. It was the last letter my dad would ever write me. I had forgotten about it until my mother sent it to me a few years later, before my first game against Tennessee as the starting punter for Auburn in 1986.
My mom called Coach Dye that week and sent him the letter. H read it to the team the night before the game.
Here is where David comes in. Without my knowledge, he published my dad’s letter in the program of the Georgia game. I got to the locker room early on game day and flipped through program placed in all of our lockers, killing time like I always did, and then saw the letter. I was stunned.
The AP picked up the story, and both David and I received hundreds of letters from people all over the country that read the story about losing my dad and the letter he wrote.
I have a copy of the program page framed in my house. It is one of my most treasured possessions.
David, I know I’ve thanked you before, but as I get older I realize that I can’t thank you enough for that gesture. To honor my late father and the relationship we had with the rest of the Auburn family is one of the greatest events of my life and YOU made that happen.
I’m sure there are hundreds of other players with similar stories.
I hope you are enjoying your coffee and breakfast at the back booth at Chappy’s right now, reading this post over a second cup.
We probably need at least one more TNDC…don’t you think?
War Damn Eagle!
brian shulman ‘89