Bonesville: The Authoritative Independent Voice of East Carolina
Daily News & Features from East Carolina, Conference USA and Beyond

Mobile Alpha Roundup Daily Beat Recruiting The Seasons Multimedia Historical Data Pirate Time Machine SportByte™ Weather

No. 39

With Ron Cherubini

Editor's Note: This "Pirate Time Machine" feature on Pat Dye and the the accompanying sidebar were originally published exclusively in print in the 2004 edition of Bonesville Magazine. It seemed only fitting to run Ron Cherubini’s package on the East Carolina coaching legend after Dye was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this year for his accomplishments at ECU, Wyoming, and Auburn. This weekend, Dye will be enshrined in the East Carolina Hall of Fame, an honor that was originally going to take place in 2005 but was delayed a year to ensure that Dye could accept the honor in person. This is the first time the article, which is reproduced here with permission from Bonesville Magazine, has appeared online.

(Photo: ECU SID)

In Six Seasons, Pat Dye Left an Indelible Mark on the East Carolina Football Program

By Ron Cherubini
©2004, 2006

As much as Steve Logan has been credited with guiding East Carolina football into the limelight of big-time, name-branded football, and as much as Ed Emory is synonymous with establishing ECU’s post-Southern Conference existence, and as much as Clarence Stasavich represented the beginning of a serious commitment to football, Pat Dye left an indelible mark on the Pirate football program.

More than his gaudy record at the helm and his near-unstoppable wishbone offense, Dye shook the very foundation of collegiate football within the state of North Carolina. If the Pirates gained anything from his six seasons, it was the unabashed confidence that the small-town, low-budget school east of I-95 could not only play with their over-funded, silver-spooned brethren in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, but could beat them. And beat both, Dye did. He is the only Pirate head coach to beat the two ACC teams in his tenure.

But more than what Dye meant to the Pirates, it was, perhaps, what his presence in Greenville forced the other in-state schools to do that really is the measure of his success at East Carolina.

“The big thing we accomplished while we were there is that we found out we could compete with State, UNC, and Duke,” Dye said in recalling his time in Greenville. “Our record (against them) wasn’t great. We only beat State 2-of-6 times, but we always played them close and we beat North Carolina and tied them. And the games we lost to them, we usually had better stats then them, but it was hard to win in Chapel Hill with those ACC officials out there and I mean that about those officials. They made it very hard to win against (North Carolina).”

It was Dye’s method of building the Pirate program that really stirred things up in North Carolina.

I think the one thing that I did that hadn’t been done at ECU or anywhere in North Carolina for that matter, was we really tried to recruit the kids in the eastern part of North Carolina particularly,” Dye said. “At that time, and I think I’m right in saying this, we had some kids… and I’m not sure if prop 48 was in effect then… but the football in North Carolina was a lot different than in Georgia and Alabama. Football was important in Greenville, but not like it is down here (in Alabama). They hire teachers that coach, not coaches that teach. They have no spring practice in North Carolina, which is huge in developing talent in football. The caliber was not even close to what I was used to, but what we did was we recruited North Carolina athletes that could run. We took them off the basketball courts, tracks, wherever… I can tell you a lot of kids came there and became great players but you couldn’t have signed any of them off their high school films. But they could develop into guys who could line up with anyone, anywhere. And, they did.”

Dye’s focus on in-state athletes was a concept that none of the other in-state schools really paid much attention to prior to Dye’s arrival. But, they picked up on it quickly when his Pirates, largely comprised of N.C. kids, smacked the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels around a few times. Then, the ACC schools shifted focus in their own recruiting.

“That first year we played N.C. State, they had four starters from North Carolina and the rest of their players were from Virginia and up north,” Dye said. “The last year we played them (during his tenure), State had 18 starters from North Carolina. We made UNC and N.C. State recruit the state of North Carolina. We lined up with home grown kids and beat N.C. State and Carolina with them. They were bigger and stronger and more physical at the line of scrimmage, but we could run the wishbone, like Air Force, we could get by with undersized lineman and had a chance to compete. We had great speed on defense which allowed us to have great success on defense and we did it primarily by concentrating on eastern North Carolina and the Tidewater, Virginia, area.”

Photo: Submitted

Dye, indeed, in his short tenure at ECU, won his way into the folklore of Pirates football. His record, 48-18-1, easily speaks for itself, but the greatness he went on to achieve at Auburn University only added to the affinity Pirates fans feel to this day when his name is mentioned.

He is a man of deep loyalties and it when it comes to college football he has but three, in very close order: Auburn, Georgia, and East Carolina.

For Auburn University, he is a devoted and tireless fund-raiser and proponent. His 99-39-4 record combined with four Southeastern Conference championships, ranks him among the greats in the SEC, and his resignation from Auburn as head coach and athletic director amid NCAA violations to this day does not diminish his reputation as an extraordinary coach.

His beloved University of Georgia, where he was an all-America guard in 1960, was the school he always dreamed of attending, having grown up in Blythe, GA, right outside of Augusta. It was an easy choice for the farm-raised Dye, whose two older brothers, Wayne, Jr., and Nat, both were Bulldogs ahead of the youngest brother.

And, there was East Carolina. It was the small school in Greenville that put its football future in an untested, never-before-head coach. Without ECU, Dye contends, he would never have discovered that he could be a head coach… and for that, he is forever indebted to the people of Greenville and those within the ECU family who brought him in.

“East Carolina has grown tremendously since I was there,” Dye said. “In 1974, I didn’t know a lot about East Carolina. I knew I had reached a point in my career that I wanted to be a head football coach. More than wanting to be one, I wanted to find out if I could be one.”

An Opportunity in Greenville

After Dye graduated from Georgia in 1960, he spent a few years playing linebacker in the Canadian football league. He followed up that with a two-year stint in the United States Army culminating in an honorable discharge in 1965. Then, it was back to football. He got his start by falling into the rank and file under the virtual Dali Lama of college football – Paul “Bear” Bryant.

After nine years at the University of Alabama, Dye was itching for an opportunity to test himself. Having absorbed the X's and O's from one of college football’s greatest legends and having been to the pinnacle of the game itself – a national championship – he simply needed to know if he could be a head coach.

It would be East Carolina who came calling… in a round about way.

“A good friend of mine had called me when Mike McGee left East Carolina for Duke,” Dye said. “Of course, I knew Mike from playing at the same time (in college) on all-star teams. That opportunity never got off the ground because they hired Sonny Randle, but two years later, Sonny went to Virginia. One of my closest friends, a veterinarian named Dr. (Sonny) Lowery, called me to see if I was interested and I told him I was. It was late in the 1973 season; we (Alabama) were getting ready to play Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship. We were No. 1 and they were No. 2. Sonny (Lowery) arranged to have someone come fly me to Greenville and arranged a meeting with the selection committee.”

As he admitted, he didn’t know a whole lot about East Carolina and Greenville, but that did not dissuade him.

“I didn’t know their tradition and didn’t know where Greenville was, but I knew Sonny and I knew Dr. Lowery,” Dye said. “I can’t recall everyone l met, but I remember Jack Minges and Les Garner and, of course, the A.D., Coach Stasavich.

“Those names stand out and I do remember them. I remember during the interview and the time I spent there, one of the comments I made to the committee. I told them, I said, ‘I don’t have any idea if I can be a good head coach or not and you don’t either. But if you all got guts enough to hire me, then I’ve got guts enough to come and I’ll take the job.’”

That type of talk goes a long way in Greenville, a town renowned for its collective “chip” and its shared instinct to fight the good fight.

“They offered (the job) to me before I left,” he said. “Dr. Lowery got in his car and went down through little Washington and Bath, just riding and talking to see a little of the country around Greenville. Of course, he knew I was born and raised in the country and grew up on the farm but he wanted to let me know that even though it is North Carolina, it was similar (to what Dye knew). He told me it was the same, only ‘we just grow tobacco here, instead.’”

As instantly impressed as the selection committee was with Dye, he was equally impressed with the fertile football ground awaiting a coach in Greenville. And he loved the leadership.

“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.

Of course, there was the matter of breaking the news to Bear Bryant that he would be leaving the Crimson Tide staff.

“When I came up for the interview, I didn’t just tell him I was going to interview, but I told Coach Bryant that I wanted to be a head coach and was going to find out if I could be,” Dye said. “After I accepted the job, I asked (everyone) at Alabama not to announce it until I talked to Coach Bryant. I had told the East Carolina folks that I wanted to stay at Alabama until after the Sugar Bowl, even though we had already been named National Champions in one of the polls.”

In perhaps a sign to Dye, the coach pointed out that Notre Dame beat the Tide 23-22 on a 100-yard kickoff return by a player named Al Hunter who had grown up in Greenville.

After he got back to Alabama, he broke the news to Coach Bryant in person.

“The first time I saw him after taking the job, I told him that I had been trying to catch up with him – we didn’t have cell phones then, you know – but I told him that I went to East Carolina to talk to them about the head coaching job,” Dye said. “And he said, ‘You ain’t going to East Carolina.’ And I said, ‘well…’ And then Coach Bryant said, ‘You already told them you was coming, didn’t you?’ He laughed. Coach Bryant and I got closer after I left because (when you work for him) he wanted a distance between himself and his assistants.”

Dye packed his backs and headed up to Greenville ready to learn if he could be a head coach. He just wasn’t quite prepared for the difference between Alabama and East Carolina.

“There was no television package, I did my own deal on that one and I made, maybe, $2,500 on that, and it was shown only in little Washington and New Bern. I worked with Dick Jones who was a sportscaster there and I can’t even remember if we had a radio show. Everything was just getting started at East Carolina.”

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.”

And, for all of its deficiencies, Dye saw more in Greenville than a small program looking to grow up.

“First of all, Greenville was and is as fine a place to live as anywhere in the world as far as community goes,” Dye said. “Our family was young and we absolutely loved East Carolina. Everybody in the community supported East Carolina. I had many friends who were Wake Forest, North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Duke graduates who lived in Greenville and supported our program. It was a growing opportunity for me and my staff. I made a ton of mistakes, but found out I could be a head coach.

“East Carolina was kind enough to allow me to go through those growing pains. We had some great, great wins and some devastating losses that hurt really bad. East Carolina will always be special to me for giving me that opportunity.”

Dye and EC Football Prove a Good Match

Despite working with a small budget, Dye set out to lure quality coaches to Greenville.

(Photo: ECU SID)

“I was fortunate to put together a good, young coaching staff,” Dye said. “When I arrived, they did not have a full staff. I had to split some salaries and had to hire some young, aggressive, enthusiastic grad students, but we did have a great, young staff.”

Dye’s staff included guys like Wright Anderson, who coached running backs and Watson Brown, who looked over the quarterbacks. Then there was Jim Fuller in the offensive trench and Henry Travathan with the wide receivers. On the defensive side of the ball, Ben Grieb coached the defensive line while Frank Orgel handled linebackers and Lanny Norris worked with the defensive backs. Later, Ken Hutchinson came in to coach defensive ends as well as Neil Calloway and Wayne Hall. Also later, when Norris left the staff, Bobby Wallace came in.

“They were good, young, and worked harder than anyone could have asked for,” Dye reflected. “Our coaches were also teachers. Half of the staff had to teach in the Physical Education department in order to (draw a paycheck). I taught a class myself because that was just the way it was. And these (coaches) somehow got it all done (teaching plus a coaching overload.)"

And he and his staff found strength in the community.

“We were all made part of the community right away,” Dye said. “Everybody loved the Pirates and that town really rallied around that football team.”

As Dye went to work learning about how to be a head coach, he realized quickly that being a head coach sometimes meant doing anything but football.

“I knew I could coach, but had to prove it,” he said. “Being a head coach is a different thing. You can be an outstanding assistant and not a good head coach. You don’t know when you are there. You got to be able to coach coaches, handle the press, meet the alumni, recruit, work with the faculty, administration, and have a philosophy that is conducive to winning.

“A lot of that I knew from going through high school and college, Canada and the service and, of course, Alabama. I had won championships at all levels and knew what it took to win, but it was a big matter of managing it all.”

There were the ancillary things that today’s ECU coaches take for granted.

“We didn’t have a strength coach,” Dye pointed out. “We converted a locker room into a weight room and then had to scrounge around to get weights. Our kids didn’t care how fancy it was, all the mattered was how much sweat you left on the floor. Our coaches were enthusiastic and hungry and were right in there with the players on everything.”

Dye learned quickly how to get those things by whatever means possible.

“When I came to East Carolina, they didn’t have one courtesy car in the whole department,” he laughed. “I went to see car dealers to get them to get involved in the program and I got a lot of ‘Nos’ and a couple ‘Yeses.’  There were 21 courtesy cars in the department by the time I left and everybody got one… even Bill Cain, who was the Athletic Director.”

Dye shares a story about one visit to a car dealer.

“I asked (Bill Cain) who was the least likely car dealer in town to give us a car for the program,” Dye said. “He told me Mr. Brown. So, I went there first. (Mr. Brown) said, ‘Boy, you crazy. I’m not going to do that. You’ll tear it up.’ So, then I asked Mr. Brown, who he thought would be the next least likely car dealer to give me a car and he named the Dodge dealer.

“I didn’t care, I went to see him and walked into his office and told him what I wanted. I don’t think he even was a football fan and he said, ‘Sure, I’ll give you a car.’ So, he gave us a few cars and we recognized him in the game program and sent him some tickets and then, all of the sudden, it got to be popular. Mr. Brown called me later and said, ‘I’ve been thinking about this car program… you need anymore cars?’ And I said, ‘No. Maybe Bill Cain might need one.’ Bill ended up using the one we got from Mr. Brown.”

Dye wasted little time installing his Wishbone offense at East Carolina, knowing that he had to narrow the size and strength quotient. And he acknowledged that Randle left him a team with plenty to work with.

“1974 was my first year and East Carolina had a really outstanding team in 1973,” Dye said. “With (Carl) Summerell at quarterback – who later went to the New York Giants – and (Carlester) Crumpler on offensive, and we inherited a good, good defensive team... with guys like (Danny) Kepley and Jake Dove, Don Schink, (Kenny) Strayhorn, Cary Godette – who was a great, great player – and Nick Bullock at nose guard… we had talented players. There were also guys like Alan Strawderman (LB), Reggie Pinkney and (Ernest) Madison – both were solid corners who set the interception record – and Johnny Grinnell. We ended up with a great, great Wishbone quarterback in Mike Weaver, who wasn’t anything (of an athlete size/speed-wise), but he was a hell of a Wishbone quarterback. Good, good players.”

A lot of the players he inherited were young and would be with his program for two or three years, giving him a fertile ground to build his program.

“That team won its first three games and then lost to North Carolina State (24-20) and Appalachian State (23-21) – on a last-minute field goal – and then later in the year to Richmond (28-20), “ Dye said of his inaugural season.

His team produced a 7-4 mark with notable wins coming against Southern Illinois (17-16), Bowling Green (24-6) and then-rival William & Mary (31-10). But, it was in 1975 that Dye delivered, perhaps, the win most Pirates craved, while producing an 8-3 season. While the 38-17 drubbing of the Tar Heels didn’t really factor beyond a needed win over a recruiting rival for Dye, he understood the payoff in terms of what it meant to the players… and the fans.

“A lot of (my) legacy has to do with beating North Carolina State and North Carolina, it has to be,” Dye said. “Those are still big games for East Carolina. The thing that being away from it and looking back at it, you know, East Carolina doesn’t get the credit for being the great school that it is. Because they are sitting there with four other great institutions in the state – and those are four great institutions – East Carolina doesn’t always get enough credit. It was a teacher’s college and, I’m guessing, it is the age of the institution. East Carolina is the youngest one, that’s all. It is a great school.

“I can tell you without reservation that the kids that go to that school have as much joy for college as they do at any institution in North Carolina. It is great school to go to and it was an easy place to recruit players to because the kids love that school and it shows.“

When he breaks down the 1975 season, it has less to do with beating North Carolina than it does about learning how to become a better coach through the ignorant honesty of one of his key players.

“You know, we played North Carolina State and they beat us early (26-3),” he said. “Then we go and lose to Appalachian State (41-25). We won a couple of games and then lost to Richmond (17-14). We were 2-3 and I was struggling. The team was struggling and I didn’t know which way to turn. I’ll never forget as long as I live the day that Wilbur Williamson (WR, 1972-75) walked into my office before a Wednesday team meeting the week of the Citadel game.

“He said, ‘Coach,’ he said, ‘What can I do to help this football team? I will do anything you ask me to do. I want to win.’”

(Photo: Auburn SID)

Struck by the question from a standout senior hoping to end his career with a winning record, Dye – though he didn’t realize it while in the moment – was evolving as a head coach. He was learning how to be a head coach, on the fly.

“I said, ‘Wilbur, how many players feel this way?,’” Dye continued. “He started naming off a half a dozen players and I remember that they were all of his friends on the team. They were good players. So, then I named another half dozen players and asked, ‘What about them, do they feel the same way?’ And Wilbur answers, ‘Coach, I don’t know about them, I don’t run around with those guys.’”

“It hit me. I said, ‘We are not together as a team. We are not in games together.’”

Dye gathered his team together that day and relayed the discussion he and Williamson had.

“I told them that this is the problem with this football team,” Dye said. “I said, ‘You ain’t together and until we get together and share a single heartbeat, we won’t ever be as good a team as we can be.’ This was on a Wednesday and we were due in Charleston (SC) on Friday for a game with Bobby Ross’s team. I told them, ‘I want all of you to take as long as you need, but when we come together, I want you each to come together as a team.’ When they came out, there was a different look in there eyes. It was too late in the week to do anything drastic as far as changing anything.”

The story gets even more Knute Rockne-ish.

“We had a great rehearsal practice on Thursday,” Dye continued. “We get ready for the bus and (Mike) Weaver has a virus and can’t go. So we go with our backup, Pete Conaty (1973-76). Pete breaks his collarbone in the second quarter and then we go to our third-teamer, Jimmy Southerland (1974-77), and we just couldn’t score.

“I believe in all my coaching career that those kids from East Carolina fought harder to win that ballgame than any other I coached. We won 3-0 and I went into that locker room and saw all the players and coaches hugging each other. Those kids were together. They knew each other through all the blood, bruises, cuts, and gashes. They looked like they had been in an all-out brawl… they had been through it together. I knew we had something then.”

The Citadel win leveled the Pirates' record at 3-3 and was the catalyst to a fantastic 8-0 finish to the year that was highlighted not only by the 38-17 pounding of North Carolina, but also with the brutal 61-10 beating of Randle’s Virginia Cavaliers. Moreover, Dye had solidified himself as an up-and-coming collegiate head coach. His team’s Wishbone offense was gaining the reputation as a potent machine and his defensive unit finished just 10 yards shy of leading the nation in total defense in 1975.

Reflecting on that season has been a regular event for Dye as he felt that it was part of a turning point in his coaching career… a tangible milestone in his evolution.

“Wilbur Williamson changed me life,” Dye said. “It took a player to make that happen. He didn’t even know what he had done. I learned that when a team doesn’t hang together, they can’t be as good as they need to be. A team has got to come together and that is what that team did. It is a lesson I carried on with me.”

Dye’s teams went on to post winning marks each of his six seasons at the helm. In 1976, the 9-2 season was highlighted from the outset with a season opening 48-0 whipping of Southern Mississippi, followed by a 23-14 beating of North Carolina State and an eventual Southern Conference championship. The only true lowlight was a narrow 12-10 loss to UNC-Chapel Hill on a late field goal.

Dye’s 1977 squad went 8-3 with highlight victories over North Carolina State (28-23) and Duke (17-16) and a narrow loss to South Carolina (19-16). In 1978, he posted a 9-3 mark, culminating with a 35-13 pasting of Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. Along the way, that season, was a 45-0 blasting of Conference USA newcomer Marshall and another narrow loss to a loaded North Carolina team.

“That North Carolina game…,” Dye recalled. “We missed a field goal and then they hit a 50-yarder to win (12-10). Of course, six of North Carolina’s front seven went to the NFL and I have to tell you that we didn’t let Lawrence Taylor make a tackle all day in that game.”

The 1979 season, his last at East Carolina, ended with a 7-3-1 mark and an offensive that was tops in the nation in rushing offense at more than 300 yards a game. The team would have had eight wins had North Carolina not kicked a field goal in the closing moments of the game to tie it. But more than anything, it was something that took place off the field which marked the season.

As in the 1975 season, a pivotal moment in his coaching chronology occurred, this time not so pleasant, but just as revealing. It was a lesson learned for a man who was now becoming a well-known coaching commodity.

“I had something happen in the beginning of the year in 1979,” Dye tells the story. “I didn’t want to release a player. We had a kid who played backup quarterback and had gone through the entire spring and then decided he wanted to transfer to Duke. I didn’t want him going there and running their scout team all fall when we had to line up and open the season for them. But, the Athletic Director and the President released him anyway. They decided to release him against my wishes and, actually, I didn’t even know that they did it.”

He didn’t know for sure at the time the details and opted to leave it alone for the sake of the season. His team, by the way, lost to Duke 28-14 in ’79. But after he confirmed what he already knew, he had to do what he believed was the right thing to do.

“I knew I couldn’t… let me say that Dr. Bullard just wasn’t like Dr. Jenkins,” Dye said. “He started telling us how to do our jobs. Never was the same with out Dr. Jenkins. I learned that what I thought was true and I kept that in the back of my mind until the end of the season. I didn’t want it hanging over my head. We had a good year in 1979 and certainly the good times outweighed the bad.

“(Dye found out for sure) on the Monday after our last ball game. I really didn’t want to know that what I suspected had happened was true because I knew if it was, I was going to have to leave East Carolina. I could have stayed and probably (made do), but I couldn’t work for some one I couldn’t trust. So, rather than trying to fight the institution – which is always more important than the individual – I thought it was best to move on. I didn’t want to damage East Carolina. I don’t regret the decision because I knew it was the right thing to do. I hated leaving those players and leaving East Carolina and Greenville. At the time, I was 40 years old and I had some good years left. I wasn’t worried about finding a job because I knew… I knew I could coach… for somebody.

A Pirate Moves On

Dye left on principle and, as such, headed to Wyoming to take over a program that hadn’t produced a winning season in eight years.

Dye with Tommy Tuberville
(Photo: Auburn SID)

“You never know how things are going to turn out,” Dye said. “I didn’t go to Wyoming intending to stay only one year. When I went, I didn’t even sign a contract. I told them what I was going to want and they didn’t even know I hadn’t signed a contract. I didn’t care because you’re going to get fired if you lose anyway. But, we were able to have a winning season and only got beat bad once, by Brigham Young. It was the first winning season at Wyoming in eight years.”

Intending to build on his first year successes – a 6-5 season – Auburn came along and threw the proverbial monkey into his wrench.

“The Auburn opportunity came up fast and I got involved in that and the rest is history,” Dye said. “I will always, always be grateful to East Carolina and I love the school and community. I still have lots of friends there and the only time, the only time I didn’t pull for them, was when they played us, here.”

His time at Auburn is well documented and despite retiring amid NCAA allegations, his stature at the university is held in high esteem.

“When I resigned at Auburn, actually retired, I was 51, 52 years old, not too old,” he recalled. “The decision was that if I was ever going to coach again, it would have been at Auburn. I decided I could live without football and I am a bigger fan today than I ever was. I really didn’t look for other jobs or pursue other jobs. I did talk to Georgia a bit when they eventually hired Mark Richt. At the time, Georgia hadn’t won a conference championship in 20 years, but it was still one of the better jobs in the SEC. But, I never really seriously pursued that job or any other. I got a great life. All four of my kids graduated from Auburn… we are an Auburn family.”

His years at Auburn are associated with winning and winning and winning and his tenure as Athletic Director sometimes gets overlooked. And Dye loves to point out his greatest decision as AD at Auburn:

“When I was Athletics Director and we needed a baseball coach, there was only one phone call I wanted make and that was to Hal Baird,” Dye said. “There’s an East Carolina (graduate) who has done a great, great job. Everyone at ECU needs to know the contribution that Hal has made not only as a baseball coach, but as a person. There is not a more respected administrator at Auburn then Hal Baird. I was blessed to have been there when Hal came in.”

Living Life the Dye Way

Today, Dye still works for Auburn, serving as the Special Assistant to the President and Honorary Chairman of the Capital Fund. He has an office there and reports daily. He works the alumni circuit and he is as big an Auburn fan as there is. He still keeps up with the Pirates, too.

“A lot of talk about baseball up there at ECU,” he said. “They’ve always had that great baseball team up there. But, I remember it was football at East Carolina, 365 days a year. And that is in a state where they do quite a bit of talking about basketball.”

Yes, he keeps tabs.

In his job, he still does the occasional speaking engagement and is always open to interviews. He used to be a regular on a syndicated radio program but gave that up after it got too tedious with other commitments.

“I still do the speaking engagements,” he said. “I had been on the Paul Finebaum (Radio Network), but he got to be such an agitator always trying to kick you all the way down. It’s a [expletive deleted] way to make a living and I would go on and argue with him when he would try to get me to be critical about Auburn. So, last year, I told him I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

Pat Dye presently serves as the Special Assistant to the President and
Honorary Chairman of the Capital Fund at Auburn University.
(Photo: Auburn SID)

Dye did say he might go back to a regular radio gig as the board that sponsored him on the Finebaum show wants to work out a new deal, though Dye added, “I’m not going to do his show as long as he is the way he is.” The board wants Dye back on because during the years he was a regular, the Monday and Friday shows were the most-listened to in the state of Alabama.

“That’s because people like to hear us argue,” Dye laughed. “I guess I was good for his show. I didn’t mind doing it, but I didn’t like it getting too personal. Not sure what I am going to do this year. I do have a couple of things going on and not enough time to have my own already.”

Dye is now a bachelor – sort of. He and his wife divorced years ago after growing apart, and he notes that today, “we’re getting along better now than we ever did. She has a great life going for herself.”

He keeps himself busy with a number of endeavors, not the least of which is a publishing company and print shop.

“I own a ¼ interest in a print company and I’ve also got 740 acres of farmland and (provide) bird hunting and deer hunting,” Dye said. “I used to have an outdoor show on the radio, but doing the whole thing ended up being too much trouble, so I quit doing it. The publication we are putting out is on wildlife trends. We have some of the latest research on wildlife management and researchers writing articles for us. I’ve enjoyed putting that together. We’re going on about three years now and we (produce) 12 issues a year. When people buy the subscription, our goal is for them to ‘build’ a book (with each edition) by the end of the year. We’ve changed the format recently by adding advertisements now at every other month, so the (magazine) is profitable now.”

Perhaps the most valuable time to Dye these days is the time he gets to spend at his home and with his “spousal equivalent” as he endearingly refers to his girlfriend of six years.

“I built me a bachelor’s house on some land in the middle of a lake,” he said of his home. “I started to keep company with a Dean in the nursing school (Dr. Nancy McDonald) at Auburn and we’ve been seeing each other since 1998. I hadn’t looked at somebody else and I’m not married. I even built her a house and attached to mine. Even gave her a ring, but we are not married. Of course, I may have to give her another ring or something down the road. I’ll tell you, it has been wonderful. She is tough as damn nails and she loves where we live. And, she has got all of her priorities in place and she helps me get mine in the right places.

(Photo: Submitted)

“I am as happy and healthy these days as I can be.”

Dye knows that his place in East Carolina history is etched there and he knows as long as the Pirates are fighting for recognition while surrounded by four ACC schools with huge budgets, people have affinity for the only Pirate coach to have beaten North Carolina and for the losses he tagged on North Carolina State and Duke. Those are, as Dye puts it, “the conversation games.”

But the old coach would also like for those Pirates who remember his tenure at the helm to know how much East Carolina means to him.

“I love East Carolina for giving me a chance and they didn’t have to,” he said. “There is not a bigger fan out there that pulls for East Carolina than I do. I’ve been back on several occasions, one when they had the 25th anniversary for the 1975 team. To see a lot of the old players and friends and to see all of the progress that has been made with the overall program was truly impressive.

“Most of all, it made me sincerely proud to feel that I was a part of it.”

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

Click here to dig into Ron Cherubini's Bonesville archives.

Pat Dye Bio Box

Pat Dye

(Photo: ECU SID)





Years at ECU:

1974-79 (record: 46-18-1)


Head Coach


Blythe, GA

Currently Resides:

Auburn, AL


Special Assistant to the President and Honorary Chairman of the Capital Fund at Auburn University

Marital Status:



• Patrick Dye Jr., 42

• Missy, 41

• Brett, 38

• Wanda, 35

• 9 grandchildren



Previous PTM


DB • No. 21



View the Pirate Time Machine Archives...



View the Pirate Time Machine Archives...

10/28/2012 12:47:25 AM

©2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2006-2007-2008-2009-2010-2011-2012-2013 All rights reserved.
Articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files and other content originated on this site are the proprietary property of
None of the articles, logos, graphics, photos, audio files, video files or other content originated on this site may be reproduced without written permission.
This site is not affiliated with East Carolina University. View's Privacy Policy. Advertising contact: 252-349-3280; Editorial contact:; 252-444-1905.