How to Handle The Criticism

    I've been there. The season of 1979. It got ugly. We opened the season on a 3-game losing streak, coming off a 9-2-1 year. A black cloud moved over Athens for a month. Wake Forest beat us in the opener, 22-21. Clemson got us, 12-7. We lost to South Carolina, 27-20. The reaction?
    Some fans got mean. I can remember seeing some irate grown men that September. On the way out the gate, some of these guys would stop behind the bench and let us have it. Call us every name in the book. Some others would wait to scream and hollar, as we exited the playing field for the locker room. Red faces. Foaming mouths. Tempers flaring. It was intense. And I thought then, these guys were just a little bit crazy. Over the top.
    The film breakdown was mean too. Okay, embarrassing. All those mistakes to get corrected. That was humbling. On campus, it was interesting. People whispering and pointing. Friends were hard to find. Any media interaction was negative based. What went wrong? Who do you blame? The only friends we had were each other. And your family back home. 
    You really do circle the wagons and insulate yourselves from all the negativity. The focus is to fight your way out of it. Work harder. Study harder. Practice harder. You know, grind. Losing sucks. Nobody has any fun. I felt bad for the seniors, who had put their hearts and souls into that season, only to see it spiral out of control.
    That season, we got it together, won 4 SEC games in a row and finished 6-5. We salvaged some respect. I learned another life lesson that year about sticking together. Hanging tough through the adversity. That experience certainly made us all appreciate the great ride of 1980.

 

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