Remembering Pat Dye

Forever An Auburn Man.

Pat Dye embodied what it meant to be an Auburn Man. Former Auburn Athletic Director David Housel said it best,”People will talk about all of the games Coach Dye won, all of those champions and bowl games, but his greatest contribution, his legacy, is the difference he made in the lives of his players and the people who 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 and Auburn will be forever better because of him.” The phrase that has overwhelmingly been repeated by Auburn greats and fans has been,”Auburn will be forever better because of him.” After the 1980 football season Auburn would decide to part ways with head coach Doug Barfield, who had lost all five times to Alabama. Legend has it, when the Auburn job came open Pat Dye started to drive from Wyoming, where he currently was the head coach, to the University of Georgia, his alma mater, with the thought that Vince Dooley would surely come home to his alma mater to be the next head coach at Auburn. When Dye got close to Athens he caught word that Dooley had declined the offer and decided to stay at Georgia. At the news, Dye turned the car around and headed to Auburn. Dye would be hired as the next Head Football Coach at Auburn shortly after. Pat Dye’s first season on the plains wasn’t exactly great with a 5-6 record and loss to Alabama, but what is remembered by many in Auburn is what Pat Dye told Bear Bryant before their first meeting in the 1980 Iron Bowl. Dye told his former boss, from back when Pat Dye was a linebacker coach at Alabama,“We ‘aint afraid of you anymore.” That statement would end up holding true as Dye would beat the Tide six out of the next nine times he would face them. Pat Dye would win the Southeastern Conference Championship four times during his time on the plains and three times in a row to end the 80’s decade. Many would say his most important game while the coach of Auburn was the 1989 Iron Bowl. It was not just because it was a big time matchup between the undefeated Crimson Tide and the back to back defending SEC champions, but because he brought the greatest rivalry in college football home. Ever since Dye took the job at Auburn he had been fighting with a spirit that was not afraid to get the Iron Bowl to Auburn. After many disputes, Dye’s dream came true and the Crimson Tide came marching in to Jordan-Hare Stadium on December 2nd, 1989. The Tigers would prevail with a 30-20 win. This past Iron Bowl was the 30th anniversary of the “First Time Ever” game and the Friday night before members of that 1989 team got to together for the reunion. When Dye spoke to the team he said,”I could live for another 80 years, and I could never do for Auburn what Auburn has done for me.” Dye turned an Auburn program around and touch many lives during his time on this earth, and we all know for sure that tonight he is “wrestlin’ with them angels.”

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