Former Auburn coach Pat Dye has died at the age of 80. Dye had been hospitalized for lingering kidney issues for several weeks and with asymptomatic symptoms last month. He had been hospitalized in Atlanta, but was recently transported back to the Auburn area to be closer to his friends and family.
Dye was Auburn's head coach from 1981-92, and served as the school's athletic director from 1981-91. His 12 years on the sidelines transformed Auburn into a football power after nearly a decade of futility. He posted a 99-39-4 record and won four SEC titles (1983, 1987-89), including three straight from 1987-89. He led Auburn to three Sugar Bowls and finished in the top 10 five times, including four straight seasons (1986-89).
"Coach Dye was much more than a hall of fame coach and administrator at Auburn. He was an Auburn leader and visionary," current coach Gus Malzahn said. "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."
The turnaround of the Auburn program under Dye started in 1982 -- his second season at the helm. Led by true freshman star and eventual Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, the Tigers topped Alabama in the Iron Bowl and broke a nine-game losing streak to the cross-state rival. He led the charge to move the Iron Bowl out of the neutral site of Birmingham, a point of contention for Auburn fans for decades. The Tigers topped then-No. 2 Alabama 30-20 in 1989 in the first ever Iron Bowl to take place in Auburn. The school named the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium in his honor in 2005.
"For four decades, Coach Dye showed all of us what it looks like to be an Auburn person," current athletic director Allen Greene said. "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."
Several current coaches commented on Pat Dye including Alabama's Nick Saban.
"I've known and respected Pat Dye for many years, and he always represented college football with tremendous class and integrity," he said. "He was an outstanding teacher and coach who affected our game in many significant ways. We are saddened to hear of his passing and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, co-workers and all of the players he had such a positive impact on throughout his distinguished career."
Current North Carolina and former Texas coach Mack Brown shared his thoughts on Dye on Twitter.
Saddened to hear that Pat Dye passed away earlier today. He was a good friend and an excellent coach. Our profession was better because he was a part of it. Our condolences go out to Coach Dye’s family and friends.— Mack Brown (@CoachMackBrown) June 1, 2020
Dye also coached at East Carolina (1974-79) and Wyoming (1980). He finished his career with a 153-62-5 career record. He was an All-American guard at Georgia in 1959 and 1960. Dye was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.