The Dye-Gest: My Wildest Football Game

Hall of Fame Coach Pat Dye writes about a memorable Auburn vs. FSU football game loaded with offensive fireworks.

Fans have asked me what was my wildest and craziest game as head football coach at Auburn and without a doubt it was our 42-41 victory at Florida State in 1984.

We were picked number one in the country that year and we had no business being ranked that high because we lost 13 seniors who were great players. Also, we were starting a new quarterback and we weren't very good on defense.

We were struggling as a football team before we went to Tallahassee that year. We lost to Miami in New York and lost to Texas in Austin to start the season 0-2 before winning games vs. Southern Miss, Tennessee and Ole Miss.

Florida State was ranked No. 9 in the country when we went to play in Tallahassee and we felt like we needed to win that night to get our respect back.

I was really concerned about the game. One of the reasons is back then we had split crews doing the officiating. The year before we had some really questionable calls by officials from the old association for the southern independents, which included FSU. When we got to Tallahassee I picked up the game program and read that the two officials I was most concerned about were calling our game. In fact, I was deeply concerned.

One of the officials I was worried about was the referee and the other was the side judge, who made a lot of the pass interference calls. As it turned out, I had a reason to be worried.

Florida State had a good offensive team, but the Seminoles were kind of like us on defense--they weren't very good. We were running the wishbone then and FSU was running a pro-style offense that featured two great receivers, Hassan Jones and Jessie Hester, with a quarterback (Eric Thomas) who could get them the football.

I knew there was going to be a lot of scoring in the game, and, running the wishbone, I didn't know how we were going to keep up with them.

The game started out well for us. They kicked off to us and we took it down the field and scored in about three or four plays. However, they came right back and scored, and at halftime we were on top 22-17. At lot happened in those first two quarters, but it was nothing compared to what was about to take place.

To start the second half they kicked off to us and Brent Fullwood ran it back to about the 40-yard line where FSU knocked the ball loose. It bounced off the ground, up into the air and one of our running backs, Eddie Graham, caught it on a dead run and went 60 yards for a touchdown. That was a great start to the third quarter to build momentum for us, but FSU matched that with a score of their own so we couldn't pull away because we couldn't stop them.

I remember FSU was driving late in the third quarter and they had the ball around our 15-yard line with a chance to go ahead. Coach Bowden (former FSU head coach Bobby Bowden) did as good of job of calling plays as anybody I have ever been around back then when he was still heavily involved in the offense.

On their scoring play they pitched the ball to the tailback, who handed it to flanker coming around on the reverse. Their quarterback ran out to the backside and when the reverse came around he clipped our defensive end, John Dailey, hitting him right in the back to prevent him from making a play.

On the sidelines I was immediately hollering "he clipped" and the side judge said, "I saw it." I told him to "throw his flag" and he said "it wasn't my call." He said it was the referee's call. I?told him, "You saw it and you know it was a clip. You have got to throw your flag." By that time the Seminoles were lining up to kick the extra point and they were ahead in the ball game.

They kicked off to us and we moved right back down the field into scoring position. We had the ball first and 10 at their 12-yard line. Our quarterback, Pat Washington, ran the bootleg with a run or throw option. The receivers were covered so he pulls the ball down and runs in for a touchdown. On that play our guard, Randy Stokes, pulls out and is leading Pat on the bootleg and he hits their strong safety right in the chest, blocking him out of bounds. The same official who couldn't call the clip on the other end of the field throws his flag this time and calls a clip on us.

I yelled at the official and said, "No way he clipped him. He hit him in the chest," but it didn't help. They called the touchdown back. By that time I am out on the field discussing the situation with the officials and they told me I had got to get back to the sideline.

I told them, "I am not going anywhere until you explain to me how you can call a clip on one end of the field and not call one on the other end of the field." Of course, they are marking off 15 yards for the clip and then he throws another flag and marks off 15 more yards on me for a personal foul.

As they are marking off the 30 yards we are still discussing it over there by the hash mark and I said, "I want to see the guy with the white hat (referee)." He comes over and we discuss it and he throws his flag, too, and they mark off 15 more.

The scoreboard down there at Doak-Campbell Stadium had pyrotechnics when the crowd got loud and it lit up the place like the 4th of July with the fans going crazy.

After I got my second personal foul call, our big noseguard, Ben Thomas, came out on the field and picked me up. He said, "Coach, you have to get off the field or they are going to throw you out of here." So he carried me back over to the sidelines and set me down.

I don't know what the Auburn fans were thinking at that time, but I remember thinking "how are we going to win this game."

As I looked at all of those fireworks, I noticed the down and distance on the scoreboard and it showed it was first down and 55 yards to go. I looked over at Jack Crowe, who was calling plays with Larry Blakeney, and I said, "Jack, have you got a good first and 55 call." He looked at me like I was crazy.

Not surprisingly, we didn't score on that possession, but we did come back and went ahead again, but we still couldn't stop them. They were throwing the ball to Jones and Hester. Their quarterback would just throw it out there and they would go get it.

We had a little freshman starting at cornerback, Alvin Briggs from Greenville, who was having no success trying to cover FSU's receivers. I remember he came off the field with tears in his eyes. I told him, "Alvin, you have to get back on the field" and he said, "Coach, I am not going back out there. I can't cover them."

I told him, "We haven't got anybody on the team who can cover them, but we have to have 11 people out there. We finally got Alvin back in the game and he still couldn't cover them.

Late in the fourth quarter, Jones caught a touchdown pass that put FSU ahead 41-36, and I was thinking we didn't have enough time to score. They kicked off to us and we had a nice return. On the first play after that Pat Washington hit Freddy Weygand on a little stop route. Freddy turned it into about a 35-yard gain that changed the field position.

The we hit our tight end, Jeff Parks, for about 25 more yards and suddenly we are down inside their 10-yard line with about a minute and half to go in the game. I am thinking to myself that we were going to score because they couldn't stop us from running it in from there. We ran a toss sweep to Fullwood and he scored with 48 seconds left and I was thinking, "Man, we scored too quickly." That is a lot of time when you have Hester and Jones.

Something that happened on our last touchdown drive had a significant impact on how the game ended. On Weygand's big gainer the officials didn't stop the clock like they were supposed to while the chains were set so I ran out on the field again. I didn't want another 15-yard penalty, so I wasn't too aggressive, but I wanted the clock stopped. However, they didn't do it and ran 12 seconds off the clock I thought we were going to need to score.

After we went ahead 42-41 they ran the kickoff back out to around the 25 or 30. We sacked them a couple of times and it was third and long. They were forced to throw up a desperation pass that one of their receivers made a miraculous catch on around our 30-yard line as the clock hit 0:00. If they had that extra 12 seconds I wanted put back on the clock, FSU would have had a chance to run another player or line up and try a game-winning field goal.

That game was the wildest thing I ever saw in my life. We were lucky to get out of their with a win and I was certainly glad to get on the bus and head home to Auburn.

(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to

Editor's Note: This part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for about the game he played and coached. An All-American at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn who was also head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns a week--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat's Picks.

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