AUBURN, Ala.—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, and nine grandchildren and his partner of 18 years, Nancy McDonald.
The Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation (non-profit 501(3)(c)) has been established to honor Coach 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 Coach Dye will be held at a later date. Details will be announced once they have been confirmed.
STATEMENT ON COACH PAT DYE’S PASSING
Pat Dye, Jr:
“On behalf of our family, I want to thank all of the people from around the country who have offered their support and admiration for Dad these past several days. Dad would be honored and humbled to know about this overwhelming outreach. The world has lost a pretty good football coach and a great man. He was beloved, he touched so many lives and he will be missed by many, especially our family.
Auburn Director of Athletics Allen Greene
“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.”
Gus Malzahn, Auburn Head Football Coach
“Coach Dye was much more than a hall of fame coach and administrator at Auburn. He was an Auburn leader and visionary. He not only returned the football program back to national prominence during his tenure, but was a key figure in bringing the Iron Bowl to Auburn and made an impact on the university and in the community. He embodied what Auburn is about: hard work, toughness and a blue collar mentality.
Coach Dye’s impact on Auburn is endless and will stand the test of time. He had a great and deep love for Auburn and he displayed that affinity daily. I’m very appreciative of his support and friendship through the years. It’s a sad day. Coach Dye was a treasure and will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, his former players and coaches and the entire Auburn family.”
David Housel, Auburn Athletic Director/Sports Information Director Emeritus
“People will talk about all of the games coach dye won, all of those champions and bowl games, but his greatest contribution, his legacy, is the difference he made in the lives of his players and the people who worked for him. I am one of them. He made a difference in my life.
He came to Auburn at a time when Auburn needed leadership and focus. He provided that leadership and focus and Auburn will be forever better because of him.”
Hal Baird, Auburn Baseball Coach, 1985-2000
“Coach Dye was a mentor and a friend for 46 years. I was with him when he coached his first football game at East Carolina and his last game at Auburn. He was a giant of a man and touched hundreds if not thousands of people. Everyone that he touched would say the same thing, that his life was built on a core of values that he taught to his players, coaches and staff. It’s a huge loss. He left an indelible impression on college football, on Auburn and really the entire country.”