Pat Sullivan, an Auburn football legend and the program’s first Heisman Trophy winner, died Sunday morning at the age of 69.
Sullivan fought a long battle after being diagnosed with mouth cancer in 2003 and undergoing treatments.
Sullivan built a lasting legacy in the state of Alabama while serving as a three-year starter at Auburn, from 1969-71, where he and fellow teammate and favorite wide receiver passing target Terry Beasley entered “Sullivan to Beasley” into the college football lexicon.
A Birmingham native, Sullivan finished his Auburn career with 6,284 passing yards and 53 passing touchdowns, which remains the program’s all-time mark. He also added 18 rushing touchdowns in a career that saw him earn All-American honors two times and be recognized as the SEC Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
Sullivan brought Auburn’s first Heisman Trophy to the Plains in 1971 after putting together a senior campaign that saw him throw for 2,012 yards and 20 touchdowns. Sullivan’s No. 7 is one of three football jersey numbers retired at Auburn, along with Beasley’s No. 88 and fellow Heisman winner Bo Jackson’s No. 34.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Pat Sullivan, one of Auburn’s all-time greats on and off the field,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. “He was a friend, mentor and a man of great character who was beloved by many generations of Auburn fans. Pat Sullivan is, and always will be, the definition of an Auburn Man.”
After finishing up his career at Auburn, Sullivan was selected in the second round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, playing four season before rounding out his professional career with the Washington Redskins and San Francisco 49ers in 1976.
After doing radio commentary for Auburn football for five years, Sullivan joined former coach Pat Dye’s staff in 1986, where he spent six seasons. He left Auburn to take his first head-coaching job in 1992 with TCU, before serving as UAB’s offensive coordinator from 1999-2006 and as head coach for Samford from 2007-14.
Sullivan is enshrined in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 1991.
In addition to the Heisman Trophy, Sullivan also earned the Walter Camp Award in 1971 and was the Sporting News Player of the Year.