Bowden arrived in this jungle as a rank outsider and, as such, perhaps the best indication that Auburn means to change the direction of a football program that has been on probation five times. He's not the typical SEC hand, one of those many Bryant disciples who run smash-mouth offense and wink at the rules; Bowden's previous stop was Samford, where he turned a Division III program into a I-AA title contender. But he's no babe, either. Most coaches, especially those stepping into scandal, wipe the program clean, but Bowden recognized that a scorched-earth policy would create more enemies than friends. He retained three key members of Dye's staff, including defensive coordinator Wayne Hall—who had sought the head coaching job himself.
Terry also made it clear that he wanted to keep brother Tommy, a decision as admirable as it was sticky. The two had taken opposite paths to the same goal of becoming a Division I head coach—Terry electing to be the big fish at small schools, Tommy learning as an assistant at Florida State, Duke, Alabama, Kentucky and, since the 1991 season, Auburn. But Tommy, older by a year and a half, wasn't sure he wanted to stay. The family had a hierarchy: Oldest runs the show. Now Terry had turned that upside down.
"Who wants to work for his younger brother?" Tommy says, laughing. "I have the same goals, ambitions and dreams as he does. Mine got sidetracked. It's a pretty humiliating experience."
It's strange for Terry, too. "I'm not used to telling him what to do, and I'm not comfortable with it," he says. "Any other coach would have probably fired everybody on the staff. I told them I wouldn't come if I couldn't hire my brother. I'm not going to ruin a family for this job." And the funny thing is, the family order returns the moment football is done. "We walk out of the office, go to the beach, and all of a sudden the hierarchy comes back: 'Terry, go get the pool furniture, bring it in here.' And I will."
Now, both admit, Terry's success has made Tommy a hot property—Ole Miss reportedly has already contacted him—but the two clashed over offensive philosophy until Tommy gave ground. "I know who the boss is," Tommy says. "Sooner or later I'll be the boss." The phone rings, Tommy picks up. "No, you've got the wrong head coach," he says and hangs up.
"In our family it was no different from any father-son relationship: You definitely compete for his acceptance, his stamp of approval," Tommy says. "And Terry pretty much has his stamp, going 11-0 in the toughest conference. I've got to get me my own stamp."
Meanwhile, Terry made a point of making his predecessor feel welcome, knowing Dye still had the loyalty of many administrators and virtually all the players (18 starters this season were Dye recruits). He let Dye address the Tigers after last year's win over Alabama. He had the confidence—rare in a coach of any age—to move delicately. "I couldn't ask for any more," Dye says. "He's got a tremendous ability to listen, and a lot of times I suggest things."
Dye thinks Terry is meaner than Bobby, while still able to unsettle opponents with his father's unpredictable schemes and trick plays. "Bobby's not going to run the sweep down your throat," Dye says. "But Terry does both. He'll knock the crap out of you, and then he'll screw you."
For Dye, it's wonderful stuff. It allows him to share in the vindication rising out of the scandal. And now, this Saturday's game in Birmingham, rattling the Bear's cage—it's almost too much to hope for.
"I've got a lot of Alabama friends," says Dye, an assistant under Bryant for nine years. "A lot of people there felt that when they got rid of Pat Dye, they'd kill Auburn. But what it did was set Auburn up to hire the best young coach in the country." He says nothing for a moment, then lowers his voice as if he's speaking only to himself. "And it tickles me to death."