Dr. Jay Gouge served as president of Auburn University from July of 2007 until he retired in 2017.

Due to an ill-advised decision in the hiring of his replacement, the Board of Trustees appointed Gouge interim president in 2019 after essentially paying Steven Leath a ridiculous amount of money not to be the president. The “interim” title has since been dropped and he now has the distinction of serving as the 18th and 20th president of Auburn University.

In a recent video made for incoming freshman, Dr. Gouge talked emphatically about all the activities on campus that would, indeed, be taking place this fall. Among those on the list, he stated that classes “would” open in the fall. There “would” be fraternity and sorority activities. There “would” be over 500 club activities and, most importantly, there “would” be football.

He didn’t say “might” or “possibly” or “we hope.” He said unequivocally it was going to happen.

I don’t know if anybody remembers the movie “Dead Poets Society,” but I have an irresistible urge to leap atop a school desk and cry out, “O Captain! My Captain!” Consider me an ardent supporter of his bold and positive message.

It’s a good flick, by the way. Check it out sometime.

Does Gouge have some crystal ball that allows him to see the future? No, but he is one of the decision-makers and leading authorities on the Auburn campus. He also understands that life must go on. It will go on. It’s just a matter of how quickly we adapt.

Obviously, decisions have been made on the Plains to try and conduct normal operations in the fall but also implement adaptive measures to deal with the current situation as would be most appropriate.

There may not be fans in the stands for games and maybe there will be. There will undoubtedly be precautions taken to best ensure safety, but nothing will ever be 100% free of risk. Of course, that has always been the case and always will be.

I appreciate Gouge’s confidence and willingness to step out front and lead.

The incoming freshman have already had their senior years interrupted and missed out on prom and graduation. They were probably wondering if they were going to miss out on some of the staples of college life we all took for granted. It had to have been a very uplifting message from the school president.

On the subject of there being football this autumn, AU offensive coordinator Chad Morris continues to leave conspicuous fingerprints all over the program. Most fans have been appropriately concerned if head coach Gus Malzahn would truly turn over control to Morris. The ultimate test won’t come until the season begins, but everything right now is pointing in the right direction.

There’s no doubt whatsoever that new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell was a Morris hire. Malzahn would have never gone that far outside the family. Now, the Tigers are establishing a recruiting footprint in the state of Texas. Again, this is all Morris.

The latest was a true dual threat quarterback out of Houston named Dematrius Davis. Could he be another Nick Marshall or DeShawn Watson, who Morris recruited to Clemson?

It’s way too early to tell, but I love the direction.

Andy Graham is a regular columnist for The Outlook.