AUBURN — Legendary Auburn football coach Pat Dye, who returned the program to national prominence in the 1980s, passed away Monday at the age of 80. Dye was Auburn’s head coach from 1981-92 and its athletics director from 1981-91.
In his 12 seasons as head coach at Auburn, Dye led the Tigers to a 99-39-4 record and won four Southeastern Conference Championships in 1983, ’87, ’88 and ’89. Auburn won 10 or more games four times, finished in the top 10 nationally five times and won six bowl games.
Dye was instrumental in bringing the Iron Bowl to Auburn for the first time in 1989, a game which the Tigers won 30-20, and is considered one of the most important events in the history of the program.
The playing surface at Jordan-Hare Stadium was named Pat Dye Field in his honor on Nov. 19, 2005, and he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2005.
Dye was a three-time SEC coach of the year in 1983, ’87 and ’89 and was national coach of the year in 1983.
In 19 years as a head coach, Dye posted a record of 153-62-5. He led East Carolina to six consecutive winning seasons from 1974-79, posting a 48-18-1 record and coached one season at Wyoming before being named Auburn’s head coach.
Dye began his coaching career at the University of Alabama, where he was an assistant from 1965-73.
During his coaching tenure, he coached a Heisman Trophy winner in Bo Jackson (1985) and an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner in Tracy Rocker (1988). Dye also coached 21 All-Americans, 71 All-SEC players and 48 academic All-SEC players.
As an athletic director, Dye carried Auburn’s success on the football field to the entire athletic program, developing it into one of the nation’s most respected.
A native of Blythe, Georgia, Patrick Fain Dye was born on Nov. 6, 1939, in Augusta, Georgia. He played high school football at Richmond Academy in Augusta, where he was an all-state and All-American offensive lineman.
He played collegiately at the University of Georgia from 1957-60, where he was a two-time All-American and All-SEC performer in 1959-60.
Dye was a two-way starter as a senior at offensive lineman and linebacker and won SEC Lineman of the Year that season.
Dye is survived by his four children, Pat Jr., Missy, Brett and Wanda; nine grandchildren; and his partner of 18 years, Nancy McDonald.
The Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation has been established to honor Dye, his legacy and to continue his work and love of people, nature and the gardens he created at Crooked Oaks for everyone to enjoy.
The foundation will also support the needs of qualifying students at Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery to further their education.
A memorial to honor Dye will be held at a later date. Details will be announced once they have been confirmed.
Marshall County Auburn Club president Bradley Wisener was an Auburn student during Dye’s tenure on the Plains.
“I don’t think I can add anything to what has already been said about Coach Dye,” Wisener said. “He is a true Auburn man and has done so much for the Auburn program.
“Auburn football was not in a good place when he took over in the ’80s. He brought it back to national prominence and brought the Iron Bowl to Auburn.
“My first year at Auburn was 1989, which was that first Iron Bowl in Auburn. It was a crazy atmosphere and one I will never forget.”
Patrick Williams serves as assistant principal at Boaz High School and as athletic director for the Boaz City Schools. A lifelong Auburn fan, he remembers Dye’s impact on the Iron Bowl and the Tigers program.
“Growing up in this state in the 1970s was tough on a young Auburn fan, but in the early ’80s, everything changed for me when Coach Dye became the head coach,” Williams said. “The win over Alabama in 1982 was a watershed moment in Auburn football history.
“My parents have been season ticket holders since the mid ’80s, and I was able to attend many, many Auburn games during Coach Dye’s tenure, which was most successful.
“His crowning achievement as head coach, in my opinion, is getting Alabama to come play at Auburn in 1989. The rivalry hasn’t been the same since. It has become the No. 1 rivalry in college football as a result of that move.
“I was a manager at Snead State that year, and we had a basketball game that day, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to attend the game with my family.
“For Christmas, my parents had my unused ticket framed, and it hangs in my house today. Every time I look at it, I think of Coach Dye and what he did for Auburn.
“I have to admit, watching some of the videos and tributes to him on social media caused me to tear up. It brought back so many memories of spending time in Jordan-Hare in the ’80s with my dad watching our Auburn Tigers. Coach Dye will be missed dearly by the Auburn Family.”