Auburn lost a legend on Monday as former head football coach Pat Dye died at the age of 80 after being hospitalized last month with kidney-related issues and testing positive for Covid-19.
Dye was the driving force behind Auburn's rise to national prominence after taking over as head coach in 1981. He led the Tigers to four SEC Championships, five top-10 finishes and compiled a 99-39-4 record during his 12-year coaching tenure on The Plains, during which time he also served for 10 years as the program's athletic director. Dye also played a pivotal role in bringing the Iron Bowl to Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1989, forever shifting the annual rivalry from a game played at a "neutral" site at Legion Field in Birmingham to one played at each school's respective on-campus stadium. The field at Jordan-Hare Stadium was named Pat Dye Field in 2005 in his honor.
"I got a chance to talk to Coach about two weeks ago, to hear his voice and tell him I loved him. Hearing him talk was special to me," said former All-SEC linebacker Quentin Riggins, who played for Dye from 1986 to 1989. "He left such an incredible, indelible mark. Players and fans of today are benefiting from his contributions to Auburn."
Dye was a two-time All-American at the University of Georgia, where he was a lineman for the Bulldogs from 1957 to 1960. He entered the coaching ranks as an assistant for Alabama coach Bear Bryant in 1965. He left the Tide for his first head-coaching job at East Carolina, where he compiled a 48-18-1 record in six seasons from 1974 to 1979.
After a one-year stint as the head coach of Wyoming, Dye came to The Plains in 1981and quickly went to work turning around the program's fortunes. During his 12-year tenure, he led the Tigers to four 10-win seasons and a 6-2-1 bowl record. Overall, Dye finished his head-coaching career with a 153-62-5 record. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dye's fielded hard-nosed football teams at Auburn and instilled a sense of toughness and pride that has carried on in the program to this day. He coached 21 All-Americans during his tenure at Auburn, including Heisman Trophy-winning tailback Bo Jackson, and was known for his dedication to his players.
"He impacted countless lives and continues to impact lives today because of who he was and what he wanted for Auburn. The entire Auburn family continues to benefit from him," said former Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs, who played for Dye in the early '80s. "This has nothing to do with winning and losing games. It has to do with building character and persistence in young men. That’s what he did. He took regular boys, and if you went through his program, you became better for it. That’s his legacy. We had a chance to win games and championships, but his legacy is how he’s revered by players because of the way he profoundly impacted our lives positively forever."
The nonprofit Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation has been established to honor Dye. The foundation will support the needs of Auburn University and AUM students.