Fall 2020featureshometown herosports

Remembering a Legend

By September 24, 2020No Comments

Legendary Football Coach Pat Dye could e had his pick of incredible home. Yet, when the time came to retire from the game he so cherished, he confirmed that the choice to remain on The Plains was an easy one. Upon his retirement, Dye committed him- self to what he dubbed “the cultivation of the land” around him. And in doing so, he managed to create a singular utopia on the outskirts of Auburn. There, the former football coach boldly embarked on this next life phase, displaying the same drive and passion that made him a legend within his chosen sport. Whether it was the innovative cultivation of his beloved Japanese Maple collection or embarking on the construction of a new facility within the property, he attacked each venture with the same fervor he displayed while coaching at Auburn. It was this very tenacity and focus that so many remember when reflecting on his life. Close family friend, Lindsay Buttram Middleton, recalls, “He was a visionary in every sense of the word.

Whether in land, or even in trees or people, he could always see the potential. There are many things that made him a great football coach, but I think it was this singular trait really sealed his success in life.” Michelle Keese, administrator for The Auburn Letterman’s Club, reflects “Coach Dye both valued and truly embodied The Auburn Creed—a fact that really endeared him to me. At our last encounter (at an event celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the first ever Iron Bowl played at Jordan Hare), he delivered one of the most moving speeches I have ever witnessed. In it, he recalled the first time he read the creed and how it spoke to him. Specifically, he sited his favorite line as being ‘a spirit that is not afraid.’ We all loved hearing him speak, and it was especially poignant to see him address his former players.” Current President of The Auburn Letterman’s Club, Andrew McCain, says, “As a kid, watching Coach Dye’s teams made me want to play for Auburn when I grew up. He set a standard and a tone for the modern era of Auburn football. He also displayed a pride in Auburn University.

that transcends any coaching staff or admin- istration. In short, Coach Dye embodied everything I love about Auburn.” Former Auburn head football coach, Gene Chizik, echoes those exact sentiments. “Pat Dye was just built different. He was tough, loyal, humble and always had words of encouragement. He was never afraid to tell you truth, even if it was painful to hear.

He had an incredible presence, yet always made people feel welcome. His accomplishments in his time at
Auburn were monumental. He was a true ‘Auburn Man.’” Legendary Auburn football player, Bo Jackson, states poignantly, “Coach Dye will always mean the world to me, and I will always cherish the fact that he was in my life. He was my mentor and, next to my mother, he was the most influential person in my life.

When I came to Auburn, I was a shy, insecure and immature kid. But after four years there, I left a more confident and mature young man. And that is because Coach Dye gave me something I never had, which was a father figu e. When I was playing, after a great game I would go to the locker room after I was finished talking to reporters and just sit and envy my teammates sitting around having conversations with their dads. One of the things I cherish the most is that after all the media had left the locker room, Coach Dye would come over, sit down and talk to me just like a father would talk to a son. He was tough on me when I needed it, but I always knew he cared. I knew he cared about all his players.”