By Jay Coulter
Football Saturday In The South
Frequent readers have probably figured out by now that I'm a huge Pat Dye fan. Growing up in the 70's and 80's I lived through those difficult years when Bourbon Bryant was leading Alabama to numerous SEC championships and several national ones.
The pain of nine straight loses during your elementary years can leave marks. I still remember the day Auburn hired Dye and the infamous press conference. When asked how long it would take Auburn to beat Alabama, Dye simply replied, "sixty minutes". That was music to the ears of a 12 year-old that was beginning to question why he must love those guys in orange and blue.
Saturday, Dye was officially enshrined into the College Football Hall Of Fame. His 99 wins were without question the most important ones in the programs history. Auburn was at a crossroads in 1981. Alabama and Georgia were at their apex and we couldn't be lower.
How would things have been had Vince Dooley kept his word and flown on to the Plains? What if the Tigers had hired that guy that was turning the program around at Florida State? I know how things would have turned out if we had gone with Pittsburgh's Jackie Sherrill. At the time he was one the hottest coaches in the country, having continued Pittsburgh's winning ways after Johnny Majors left for his alma mater, Tennessee.
We’ll never know the answers to those questions. But I think I can emphatically say that Auburn got the right man. Dye carried on the traditions established by Shug Jordan and then added to them. Jordan will forever be the father of Tiger football and his accomplishments are legendary. But Dye was able to beat Alabama with consistency and dominate a decade (80’s) like no Auburn coach before him.
People are now starting to compare Tommy Tuberville to Pat Dye. I say, not so fast my friend. Tuberville is without question carving out a name for himself at Auburn. The 2004 season will forever be remembered as Auburn's greatest.
Most will argue that Tuberville really deserved the national championship in 2004 and I obviously couldn't agree more. Some will argue that it already gives him a leg up on Dye. For those that do, I recommend you rewind to 1983 and what happened on New Year’s night 1984.
Auburn and Coach Dye were robbed of a national championship that night in what was equally as painful as what happened in 2004. Top ranked Nebraska and #2 Texas both lost that day, leaving #3 Auburn poised to jump to number one. In one of the biggest crimes college football has ever seen, Miami jumped from the number five spot to claim the title.
So I give both Dye and Tuberville equal marks for nearly winning it all. With that said, Dye still holds four SEC championship rings, a Heisman trophy winner, an Outland Trophy winner and a Lombardi Trophy winner. He brought Alabama to Auburn. And more importantly he dominated the Tide until right before he became sick.
Tommy Tuberville has an excellent chance to catch and even pass Pat Dye in terms of wins and championships. And nobody wants that anymore than me. Tuberville is one of the five best coaches in the country right now. Auburn couldn't be more fortunate than to have him at the helm.
But right now, Ralph Shug Jordan and Patrick Fain Dye are still the measuring sticks for Auburn football coaches.
The link below is to Paul Finebaum’s blog and in it he recounts how Auburn ended up with Pat Dye as its coach. For those of you too young to remember, it’s required reading.
Click here to read about Coach Dye...
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