Former Auburn Football Coach Pat Dye Passes Away At 80
The year 2020 is one that many will like to forget and unfortunately, we are just halfway through it. We have had a virus, Murder Hornets, rats, protests, rioting, and the deaths of some notable sports figures of the past. Kobe Bryant, David Stern, Don Larsen, Sam Wyche, Fred “Curly” Neal, Tom Dempsey, Tavaris Jackson, Don Shula, Wes Unseld, and Jerry Sloan are just a few notables that have passed away in 2020 so far. Now we can add former Auburn football coach Pat Dye to the list. He was 80 years old and last month, he went into the hospital with Kidney issues. During his stay, he found out that he was COVID-19 positive. The official cause of death has not been released yet.
Pat Dye began his coaching career at East Carolina in 1974 and went 48-18-1 in his six years with the school. Despite his success there, the Pirates went to a bowl just once in his tenure, which was in 1978. ECU beat Louisiana Tech 35-13 in the Independence Bowl. From East Carolina, he spent a year at Wyoming, where he went 6-5 and had no bowl game.
In 1981, Dye was hired by Auburn to get the Tigers back on track after going 30-33 in the previous six seasons. Auburn went just 5-6 in his first year there but they went 84-22-4 over his next nine years with the squad. The Tigers went to nine straight bowl games over that stretch, going 6-2-1 in those games. He took a downtrodden team and turned it into an SEC power. Overall, he was 99-39-4 in his 12 years with the squad. He won SEC Coach Of The Year in both 1987 and 1988. He was inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame in 2005.
Under his watch, the Tigers won or shared the SEC title four times and they were ranked in the AP Top 10, five times. Dye also had 8 Consensus All-Americans at Auburn and he is 59th on the all-time wins list overall with 153. Just about the only thing he didn’t do in his career is to win a National Title, but still, he had some very strong teams. We also note that RB Bo Jackson won the Heisman Trophy in 1985, defensive lineman Tracy Rocker took home both the Outland and Lombardi trophies in 1988, and linebacker Aundray Bruce was the No. 1 pick in the 1988 NFL draft. He did have an eye for top-notch talent. He will be missed.
“For four decades, Coach Dye showed all of us what it looks like to be an Auburn person. His coaching exploits are well known, securing his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. His skills as an administrator were equally formidable, resulting most notably in bringing the Iron Bowl to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Just like his football teams, Pat Dye the athletic director was tenacious, never backing down from a fight when he believed Auburn’s good name and best interests demanded it. Thanks to his tenacity, I’ll always treasure my first home Iron Bowl, celebrating victory on the field that bears his name.
It’s been a blessing to get to know Coach Dye in his retirement years in his role as a passionate supporter of all of Auburn Athletics. Ever the coach, I’ve witnessed him on countless occasions pouring into our student-athletes. In that sense, he never stopped being Coach Dye. On behalf of the Auburn Family, we extend our deepest condolences to the family of Patrick Fain Dye, whose love and loyalty for Auburn rendered a contribution we can never fully measure or repay.”