Monday, August 19, 2013

Former Auburn coach Pat Dye reminisces about Bear Bryant at SEC Beach Bash.

Pat Dye and Bear Bryant on a hunting trip c. 1982. Via

Former Auburn head football coach Pat Dye was one of the featured guests at the SEC Beach Bash in Gulf Shores, Al over the weekend. Dye shared with SEC fans attending the event about the moment when he informed his former boss at Alabama, Bear Bryant, his interest in taking the job of coaching the Crimson Tide's biggest rival in 1981.

"He got wind that I was interested in the Auburn job and they were interested in me and he called me and said, 'What are you doing?'" said Dye, who'd served on Bryant's staff at Alabama from 1965-73. "I said, 'What do you mean, what am I doing?' He said, 'You ain't going to Auburn.' I said, 'I'm going to Auburn if they offer me the job. He said, 'No, you're going to get this job.'

 "I said, 'Coach, I ain't going to get that job. You've got too many former players and too many former coaches that have Alabama ties. I won't ever get that job and besides that, I don't want that job. If I came to Alabama, I'd just be running a maintenance program, trying to maintain what you've already done. Ain't nobody alive can do that.' Saban wasn't born then.

( For the record, Nick Saban was born in 1961. Dye exaggerated a little bit there.)

Dye also recalled discussing with Bryant about the future of the Iron Bowl, which was then a neutral-site rival game between 'Bama and Auburn at Legion Field in Birmingham.

 "He said, 'I guess you're going to want to take the Auburn-Auburn game to Auburn,'" Dye said of Bryant. "I said, 'We're going to take it to Auburn.' He said, 'Not as long as I'm coaching.' I said, 'You ain't going to coach forever.' He said, 'We've got a contract through '88.' I said, 'We're going to play '89 in Auburn,' and we did."

The first Iron Bowl game played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1989. Auburn won that game 30-30. The game eventually became full home-at-home rivalry in 2000, when the first Iron Bowl was played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. Dye believes Alabama benefited more with the change than even Auburn did.

"If you look at what's happened since '89, I would say that it's a great thing for Auburn but Alabama has really benefited more from it than Auburn because it got their games out of Birmingham," he said. "Now the Alabama fans have a game-day experience that they couldn't have in Birmingham around Legion Field -- tailgating and getting back on campus. Look at the facilities that they've built since 1989. I'm sure it's just like it is at Auburn, they have benefited from an academic standpoint also because of all the money that football generates. 

"It's been good for both schools. It's the way it should be now."

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