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Former ECU head football coach Pat Dye dies at age 80

Auburn coach Pat Dye walks through his players as they begin workouts in preparation for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Dec. 27, 1988. (Source: AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Auburn coach Pat Dye walks through his players as they begin workouts in preparation for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Dec. 27, 1988. (Source: AP Photo/Bill Haber)(WITN)
Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 2:21 PM EDT
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Pat Dye, who led the Auburn football team to national prominence and four SEC titles, has died at the age of 80.

Multiple news outlets reported Dye had recently been hospitalized with kidney issues. He also tested positive for COVID-19.

During his tenure as coach of the Tigers, Dye led teams to a 99-39-4 record in 12 seasons on the Plains. He also coached at East Carolina for six campaigns and Wyoming for one, leading to a final record of 153-62-5 in 19 years as a Division I head coach.

But it was his work at Auburn that secured Dye a spot in The National Football Foundation's (NFF) College Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dye was born in Blythe, GA, on Nov. 6, 1939. He attended Georgia where he was an All-SEC and All-American lineman.

The former Wyoming coach took over an Auburn program struggling in the shadows of the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant, and beat Alabama in his second season in 1982. Bama had won nine straight games from 1973 to 1981, but Bo Jackson and a stingy defense topped the Tide and Bryant in 1982, ending Auburn’s painful drought. Dye had been an assistant under Bryant at Tuscaloosa.

The following seasons of Dye’s tenure were so beloved by Auburn fans that the gridiron at Jordan-Hare Stadium was named Pat Dye Field in 2005.

Auburn won SEC titles in 1983, 1987, 1988, and 1989. From 1982-90, Auburn went 84-22-3, the third best winning percentage in college football during that time, according to the Auburn Athletic Department.

Dye was SEC Coach of the Year three times, and was National Coach of the Year in 1983. At Auburn, Dye coached 21 All-Americans, 71 All-SEC players and 48 Academic All-SEC players, according to Auburn football.

Dye stepped down in 1991 from the post of athletic director after an NCAA investigation about a player receiving illegal benefits. In 1992, he resigned as head coach as the Tigers went 5-5-1.

Dye also is remembered for bringing the Iron Bowl to Auburn’s campus and landing Jackson, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy in 1985.

From ECU Athletics

During Pat Dye's six years as head football coach, ECU enjoyed unbridled success. He concluded his ECU career in 1979 with a record of 48-18-1, which ranks as the fourth most wins by any coach in school history with the highest winning percentage of any coach to man the sidelines in at least 20 games. His Pirates won at least seven games each year, including a pair of nine-win seasons in 1976 and `78. Dye also directed the Pirates to a Southern Conference championship in 1977 and an Independence Bowl victory in 1978. Twenty-two of Dye's players earned All-Southern Conference honors from 1974-76.

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