Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye dies at 80

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AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) — Pat Dye, one of the most beloved Auburn football coaches, has died at the age of 80.

Dye had recently been hospitalized for longstanding kidney issues. He had also tested positive with COVID-19. The Lee County Coroner said he died from “natural causes from complications of renal and hepatic failure.”

Dye’s football journey started in Georgia. He was an All-American football player at Richmond Academy in Augusta and led them to the Class 3A State Championship in 1956. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution selected Dye as Georgia’s 3A Lineman of the Year of 1956.

Dye went to play college football for the Georgia Bulldogs where he played offensive guard and linebacker. He continued to find success on the grid iron winning multiple individual awards including SEC Lineman of the Year and was a two-time William K. Jenkins Award for the Outstanding Georgia Lineman. Dye helped the Dawgs win the SEC Championship and win the Orange Bowl in 1959.

After graduating from Athens, Dye spent three years playing in the Canadian Football League. He served his country in the US Army from 1963-1964.

He then started his coaching career in 1965 as the linebackers coach for the University of Alabama. He spent eight years in Tuscaloosa as an assistant coach before earning his first head coaching position at East Carolina.

Dye spent 19 seasons as a head coach, but he is mostly known for the 12 seasons leading the Auburn Tigers from 1981-1992. During his time on the Plains, Dye led the Tigers to four SEC titles. He won one a 1983 and a 3-peat of SEC Titles from 1987-89. Coach Dye’s Tigers finished the season ranked in the Associated Press Top-20 eight times, and Auburn had five top-10 finishes.

He was also a three-time SEC Coach of the Year (1983, 1987, 1988). Coach Dye was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Even while Coach Dye was leading the Auburn Football team he was also the Auburn University Athletic Director from 1981-1991.

In 1992, Coach Dye stepped down as Auburn’s football coach in 1991 following a scandal that involved leaked tapes from former player Eric Ramsey alleging that coaches and boosters were paying players, a violation of NCAA rules. Dye’s final record at Auburn was 99-39-4.

David Housel, former AU Athletic Director released a statement following the news of the legendary coach’s passing:

“People will talk about all the games he won, the championships and bowl games, but his greatest contribution, his legacy, is the difference he made in the lives of the people who played for him and worked with him.  I am one of them.  He made a difference in my life.

“He came to Auburn at a time when Auburn needed leadership and focus.  He provided that leadership and focus.  Auburn will be forever better because of him.

David Housel

Gene Stallings, who coached at the University of Alabama from 1990 to 1996, had known Dye for years before they faced off against one another as coaches, both through their connection to Alabama and their work on the board of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc.

“He was not only a great coach, but he was a good friend and a good man,” Stallings said. “We’ve lost a good man.”

Gov. Kay Ivey also released a statement on the coach’s passing. The Auburn alumna discussed the relationship she had with Dye.

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Coach Pat Dye  — a great man, coach and member of the Auburn family. Not only was he a phenomenal football coach, but an even better person. For years, I have known Pat personally and have always valued his friendship and colorful commentary. He had great takes on both football and life. Coach Dye truly embodied the Auburn spirit. He will be missed not only by the Auburn family, but the entire state of Alabama. War Eagle, Coach. Your life and legacy lives on.”

Gov. Kay Ivey

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