Dye to Be Honored In Pre-Game Ceremony

Auburn, Ala.--The man who led the charge to move Auburn's home football game vs. Alabama to Auburn's homefield says Saturday will be a very special day in his life.

Pat Dye, who coached the Tigers from 1981-1992, will be honored in a pre-game ceremony that starts 22 minutes prior to Saturday's kickoff as the Alabama Crimson Tide plays at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Beginning with this year's Alabama game, the playing surface at Jordan-Hare Stadium will be known as Pat Dye Field.

"I don't know how you put something like this in words to say what it means to you, but I know it is by far the biggest honor I have ever had," Dye tells Inside the Auburn Tigers.

Dye is credited with rebuilding a slumping Auburn football program. He led the Tigers to four SEC titles and made the Tigers the team of the 1980s in the conference after inheriting a team that didn't win a single conference game during the first season of the decade.

On Saturday, Auburn's seniors will be looking to take their fourth consecutive victory over Alabama. The last time that happened was in 1989 when the Tigers were 30-20 winners in the most anticipated football game in the state's history. That historic first ever Tigers-Tide matchup on Auburn's homefield was the start of a new era for the Iron Bowl, which had been played annually in Birmingham's Legion Field since the series was resumed in 1948.

Dye will also be honored at other functions during the weekend, including a Friday evening dinner that many of his former players will attend.

Coach Pat Dye's (right) teams were known for their physical style of play.

In December he will be headed to New York City to be inducted into the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame. "It is the same kind of thing, but to me it is not as big as this thing on Saturday," Dye says.

The former coach had to visit the hospital for treatment this week as he has been battling kidney stones as well as an infection. He returned to his ranch on Wednesday near Notasulga. "I am still fighting an infection," he notes. "I am just hoping I can make all of the events."

Dye was head coach at East Carolina and then Wyoming for one season before coming to Auburn, where he also had a major impact as an athletic director who made major upgrades in programs and facilities. The former University of Georgia All-American defensive end led the Tigers to SEC Championships in 1983, 1987, 1988 and 1989.

In his second year at Auburn, he ended a bowl drought that went back to 1974 when his 1982 team defeated Boston College in Orlando at the Tangerine Bowl (now called the Florida Citrus Bowl). That matchup featured two future Heisman Trophy winners--Bo Jackson of Auburn and QB Doug Flutie for the Eagles. He led the Tigers to nine bowl games and his 1983 team was ranked No. 1 nationally by the New York Times computer poll after defeating Michigan in the Sugar Bowl.

Auburn University's Board of Trustees unanimously voted to honor Dye in September. "We have been looking for the appropriate way to honor Coach Dye for all of his contributions to Auburn University as football coach and athletic director," says AU's current athletic director, Jay Jacobs.

Dye posted a record of 99-35-5 at Auburn. He is second in AU history in total victories behind the 176 won by Ralph "Shug" Jordan from 1951-75. His overall record is 153-62-5 including the 1974-79 seasons at East Carolina and the 1980 season at Wyoming.

The former coach is still very popular with a large number of Auburn football fans who credit him with making major improvements and expansions of the program and the entire athletic department. Dye says the feeling is mutual. "I love Auburn," he says. "I love the Auburn people."

Dye, who is involved in a variety of business ventures including a hunting lodge just west of Auburn in Macon County, also helps with fundraising for the university.

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