AUBURN, Ala. — Pat Dye, the legendary football coach who led Auburn’s football program to great heights during the 1980s, died Monday, according to his son, Pat Dye Jr. He was 80 years old.
Dye was hospitalized late last month because of ongoing kidney issues. He tested positive for COVID-19 during his stay, but was asymptomatic, his son said.
The legendary coach led Auburn to a 99-39-4 overall record in 12 seasons, including nine in a row with winning records. The team won four SEC championships, and Dye was named SEC Coach of the Year three times.
There wasn’t any morning, or any day that went by, when Dye didn’t think about how blessed he was to be a part of Auburn: the football program, the university and the community.
That’s what he told many of his former players at a reunion of his 1989 Tigers team a little more than six months ago, the Friday before the 2019 Iron Bowl. It was the 30-year anniversary of the first Iron Bowl ever played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, a game he was such an integral part of making happen.
“I didn’t have anything to do with building it or making it like it is,” Dye said. “I just bought into what they already believed.”
But Dye did have so much to do with building Auburn into the football program that it is today. He was the first head coach after Doug Barfield, which made him just the second since Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s 25-year run ended in 1975. The Tigers went just 29-25-1 during the five seasons before his arrival, not making a bowl game once. Dye built them back into a power.
He’s unique because he wasn’t an Auburn person. He was born Nov. 6, 1989, in Blythe Georgia. He played college football at the University of Georgia, one of Auburn’s oldest and most hated rivals. His first coaching job was as an assistant in charge of linebackers at Alabama, on Bear Bryant’s staff, where he was from 1965-73. The Crimson Tide defeated the Tigers six times in those nine seasons and won two national championships.