Pat Dye, the legendary football coach who led Auburn’s football program into becoming a great football power during the 1980s, died Monday, at the age of 80.
Coach Dye led Auburn to a 99-39-4 record over 12 seasons from 1981-92, including nine straight with winning records. The team won four SEC championships, and Dye was named SEC Coach of the Year three times.
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. He left Tuscaloosa to become the head coach at East Carolina, a job he held from 1974-79. He spent the 1980 season as the head coach at Wyoming.
When Dye interviewed for the Auburn job, he was asked by a member of the search committee, “How long will it take you to beat Alabama? His reply, famously, was “60 minutes.” Auburn lost the first Iron Bowl of his tenure, but won six of the next eight. The last of those wins was played at Jordan-Hare Stadium, on Dec. 2, 1989.
Auburn went 5-6 in Dye’s first season. It won no fewer than eight games in each of the next nine seasons, and won 10 or more games four times. The Tigers won SEC Championships in 1983 and 1987-89. They went 6-2-1 in bowl games. Dye was named SEC Coach of the Year in 1983, 1987 and 1988.
Dye stepped down as head coach following the 1992 season, with a 153-62-5 record as a head coach overall.
Dye was hospitalized late last month because of ongoing kidney issues. He tested positive for COVID-19 during his stay, but was asymptomatic according to his son, Pat Dye Jr.
“We wouldn’t be the Auburn we all enjoy and love today without Coach Pat Dye,” the football program said in a statement posted to social media. “His impact on the community, athletics and countless individuals are immeasurable. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Dye family.”