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Sorting Dyer from the mire

He wasn't down then, but how will the No-Whistle Missile go down in Auburn memory?

Auburn lost its best football player Thursday night. In trying to process what exactly the loss of Michael Dyer means to Auburn’s football team, that fact can’t be sugar coated.

Can Dyer be replaced by one of the gaggle of running backs coming back in 2012? Probably, but his dependable production on the field will be missed. Will his presence in the locker room? Not so sure.

Something has apparently—and obviously, in hindsight—been going on with Dyer since before the 2011 season began. Auburn beat writers, particularly Jay G. Tate, hinted at issues early in fall camp. Chizik listed Onterio McCalebb ahead of him on the initial depth chart, an odd move at the time despite the coach’s insistence that people not read anything into it. Carries were limited in several key games throughout the season, with the occasional heavy load (41 carries against South Carolina) sprinkled in to keep fans confused. Message boards were abuzz with rumors of unsavory behavior and serious attitude problems.

When the talented tailback was initially suspended indefinitely prior to the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, chatter began that he would never again see the field at Jordan-Hare. Chizik insisted at the time that if Dyer ever put on an Auburn uniform again then he would have done everything asked of him to earn that chance. Apparently Dyer wasn’t interested in taking his coach up on that opportunity.

Phillip Marshall of Auburn Undercover confirmed last night that a conditional release has been granted by Chizik for Dyer to leave for another school, presumably Arkansas State.

Reuniting with his former offensive coordinator and new Red Wolves head man Gus Malzahn might be the best thing for the diminutive speedster, but it is also the most puzzling aspect of this story if it does indeed happen. Why leave an SEC program known for producing NFL running backs for a Sun Belt school where he’ll have to sit out a year unless granted a rare waiver from the NCAA? Maybe it’s his best option. Maybe it’s his only option.

If even some of the tales are to be believed, and at the very least there is no denying he did something serious enough to get suspended for the bowl game and potentially beyond, then it is also somewhat surprising that Malzahn would be willing to take Dyer with him (one can only wonder what Kristi Malzahn thinks of the idea). Still, he is a phenomenal talent and can help his old coach win games. Maybe that’s reason enough.

Whatever the reason for Dyer’s departure, there is no question that the former five star recruit—the Auburn five star curse continues—did more in his first two seasons on The Plains than any to carry the ball before him. He chalked up two 1,000 yard seasons and leaves with a ring and a BCS National Championship Game Offensive MVP trophy that can never be taken away from him. His game changing run against Oregon will live on the memories of Auburn fans forever. Is that memory somehow cheapened now that he will not finish his career as a Tiger? It shouldn’t be, but it’s hard to tell the long term effect while the news is still so fresh.

Auburn fans should be fairly disappointed in how things turned out and can fairly shake their heads at the wasted opportunity to be an legend among legends at Running Back U. But the finger wagging and character assassinations should be left to other fanbases. Dyer is gone now and he is not coming back. Best to remember the good times and the success he helped this team achieve, and hope that he finds whatever it is he’s looking for.

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