By Wil Crews
After an ongoing battle with kidney issues and recent diagnosis of COVID-19, beloved Auburn coach Pat Dye passed away Monday at the age of 80.
Dye had been admitted to EAMC in recent weeks but had since been staying at Bethany House in Auburn when he passed.
“I don’t know anyone else who means as much to Auburn,” said Sports Director of iHeart Media and close friend of Dye’s, D. Mark Mitchell.
That’s because Dye did as much for Auburn as anyone.
Dye, who was head coach at Auburn for 12 seasons, accumulated a record of 99-39-4, a win record that ties him with Mike Donahue for second most in school history and is only bested by Ralph Jordan.
Dye was named SEC Coach of the Year three times and also served as Auburn University’s athletic director from 1981 to 1991.
Under Dye, the Tigers won four SEC championships, three of them coming successively in 1987, 88 and 89. Some of Auburn’s best players in school history such as Tracy Rocker and 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson played under Dye.
However, the Tigers’ best season under Dye is widely considered to be the 1983 season. Led by quarterback Randy Campbell and a defense with the staunch fierceness that also accompanied their head coach, the Tigers bounced back from an early season loss to Texas to finish ranked #3 in the AP poll.
Dye was also instrumental in permanently moving Auburn’s home games against Alabama to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In 2005, Auburn officially renamed the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium to Pat Dye field in a fitting–and permanent–show of appreciation. The ceremony was held before the Iron Bowl, and the Tigers honored Dye in the most appropriate way possible, defeating Alabama 28 to 18.
Mitchell became close to Dye when he expressed his fears of liver disease–a condition that both men shared–to the coach. “When I told him, he said ‘son you ought to be scared, I was scared too,’” Mitchell said. “That kind of honesty is just one of the many things that made coach Dye who he was.”
Mitchell believes something Dye once told him encapsulates the coach perfectly.
In a reference to former Alabama football head coach Gene Stallings, Dye said, “If somebody has got a problem with Pat Dye, they need to look in the mirror.”
No problems here. Dye’s memory and legacy will live on in the countless lives of everyone he touched.
The Auburn family has lost a cherished member of their history and an esteemed member of the community. Coach Dye, War Eagle! You will be missed.