One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for September 29, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Sometimes the choices we make in life can present us with some interesting challenges. Sometimes the choices we make are not well thought out and done under the influences of peer pressure. That happened to me in my junior year of college.
In my junior year attending East Carolina University I agreed to move off-campus with three other guys living in a 2 bedroom apartment about 3 miles from campus. What made this problematic for me was I didn’t own a car. What made this problematic for me was at the time ECU did not offer bus service. So I encountered a problem during the winter quarter of my junior year that led me to forming a bond with one of my course instructors who later leave ECU and go on to Auburn.
The course I was taking was “Coaching Football” and it was 2 credits. It met on Monday and Wednesday at 8 AM. I was taking this course in the spring quarter 1974 which went from March to the middle of May. My problem was no one else in the apartment had an 8AM class that spring. Since they didn’t have to go to campus I didn’t have transportation. My attendance in the course after spring break was abysmal. It came down to the last two weeks and I knew I was in trouble if I didn’t go in and talk to the course instructor. I was strategic and waited until a big milestone took place in his life.
My course instructor was the new football coach at East Carolina Pat Dye and I waited until after spring football got finished.
He had a successful recruiting class and more importantly was done with practice for the spring. I went to his office at Scales Field House and told him my plight. He gave me the opportunity to do lots of extra credit and I was able to pass the course but not by much.
There is a great article on how Pat Dye got to come from Alabama working for Bear Bryant to ECU.
In that article it mentions:
Dr. (Leo) Jenkins was the chancellor and the football team was very, very important to him,” Dye said. “Coach Stas was from the old school and you know the first salary he offered me was less than what I was making at Alabama. Money wasn’t all that important, but when I got back home, Dr. Jenkins called and raised my salary to $24,000. I was making $22,000 at Alabama working for Bear Bryant.
Dye said there was so little money for hiring staff that half the coaches on the staff had to teach in the Physical Education department to get a salary. Dye himself taught, but it was alright because, as he said, “that was just the way it was there.”
I am glad that Coach Dye gave me that second chance and in 1979 after coaching East Carolina for 6 years he left to become the Head Coach at Auburn University. During his 6 years at ECU he had an impressive 46-18-1 record during that time. He coached the Pirates to the 1976 Southern Conference Championship in his third season.
Chancellor Leo Jenkins and Pat Dye celebrate with ECU Football Team 1976
ECU had a Chancellor change in 1978 and in 1979 Pat Dye left on principle over a decision supported by the new chancellor. That departure had him headed to Wyoming to take over a program that hadn’t produced a winning season in eight years. He went 6-5 during the 1980 season. In 1981 at the age of 42 he became the Head Coach at Auburn.
Coach Pat Dye was the Head football coach at Auburn University from 1981 until 1992. He built the Auburn football program into a power in the Southeastern Conference. His record at Auburn was 99-39-4, a 71% win rate. Perhaps the most important aspect of Coach Dye’s record was the fact that he led the first victory against rival Alabama hosted on Auburn’s campus in 1989. From then on, the Iron Bowl was played at either Auburn or Alabama’s home field. Coach Dye was instrumental in moving the Iron Bowl to Auburn every other year.
Over the his 11 year as head coach he had some impressive athletes but none more impressive than his friend Bo Jackson.
The Friend-PAT DYE-on right shown at 2014 UNC at ECU football game with NC Governor Pat McCrory
The Friend of a Friend-BO JACKSON
Bo over the top. To a Auburn fan no explanation is needed. It was the best single play Bo Jackson ever made at Auburn. Although no one knew at the time, that one yard leap turned Auburn into a force in the SEC.
Auburn just hired a little known coach named Pat Dye. Dye came to Auburn with a good win-loss record but not at a big conference school. He coached at East Carolina and Wyoming. But, he was a Georgia grad and was a assistant under Bear Bryant. That would pay dividends.
Bo Jackson was a senior at McAdory in 1981 Dye was in his first year at Auburn. Auburn and Alabama both recruited Bo. Bo wasn’t considered the best RB in the state but both schools saw how good a athlete he was.
Going into the 1982 Alabama game the Auburn fans had hope. Alabama had defeated Auburn nine straight times.
Late in the fourth with the score 22-17, Auburn’s defense finally stopped Alabama. Auburn took over on their 34-yard line with four minutes and 40 seconds to play. With a third-and 14-conversion and a pass interference call, Auburn drove to the one-foot line.
It was fourth down and goal. Everyone knew who was getting the ball, the Auburn players and fans knew it and the Alabama players and fans knew it.
Auburn QB Randy Campbell hands off to Bo, he leapt, and actually was stopped, but twisted his body on the pile and stretched the ball out.
Touchdown Auburn! The nine year streak was over and Bo Jackson under Pat Dye became a star and a household word for the “Bo Knows” commercials.