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Former Auburn football coach Pat Dye dies at 80

Pat Dye, who was head coach of the Auburn football team from the 1981 season through the 1992 season, died on Monday at the age of 80.
Credit: Getty Images
Former Auburn Coach Pay Dye

AUBURN, Ala — Former Auburn coach and athletic director Pat Dye, who was hospitalized last month for kidney-related issues, died Monday according to a family member. He was 80.

Dye had tested positive for coronavirus but was asymptomatic, his son, Pat Dye Jr., an NFL agent, told ESPN last month.

Dye guided the Tigers to a 99-39-4 record in 12 seasons from 1981 to 1992, winning at least a share of SEC championships in 1983, '87, '88 and '89. His Auburn teams won at least 10 games in a season four times and bowl games six times.

He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year the playing field at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium was named in his honor.

Dye was a three-time SEC coach of the year and 1983 national coach of the year. He coached a Heisman Trophy winner (Bo Jackson, 1985); an Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award winner (Tracy Rocker, 1988); and 21 All-Americans, 71 All-SEC players and 48 academic All-SEC players.

Credit: Getty Images
AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 19: A ceremony honors former Auburn Tigers head coach Pat Dye for his induction to the College Football Hall of Fame during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 19, 2005 in Auburn, Alabama. The field at Jordan-Hare Stadium was also christened Pat Dye Field. Auburn defeated Alabama 28-18. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Dye was Auburn's athletic director from 1981 to 1991. He also coached at East Carolina from 1974 to 1979 and Wyoming in 1980 and had a 153-62-5 record in 19 seasons overall.

He had been spending much of his time in recent years at his farm in Notasulga, Alabama.

Former Georgia coach and athletics director Vince Dooley, who played quarterback at Auburn, coached against Dye's teams from 1981-88.

"He was a very tough competitor," Dooley told ESPN. "He related very well to his players. He was a real fighter in that respect and was right there in the trenches with them. We competed hard against each other, but we always had a good relationship."

Dye will always be remembered by Auburn people for getting the Tigers' annual game against rival Alabama moved from Birmingham, Alabama, to a home-and-home series. The Iron Bowl was played at Auburn for the first time on Dec. 2, 1989, when the Tigers upset No. 2 Alabama 30-20 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

That's the thing that endeared him to the Auburn people," Dooley said. "He was responsible for getting that game out of Birmingham and bringing it home and home, and he was able to be highly competitive against the great Bear Bryant."

Dooley said he and Dye remained close friends over the years because of their mutual affinity for gardening and plants. Dooley said he visited Dye's nursery and farm in Alabama, and Dye toured the gardens behind his home in Athens, Georgia.

"Our relationship grew even more after football because of our mutual interest in plants, particularly Japanese maples," Dooley said. "We swapped some of our favorite plants on a couple of occasions."

Credit: AP Photo/Bill Haber
Auburn's Pat Dye was a three-time SEC coach of the year and the 1983 national coach of the year.

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