The Grady Cultural Center was filled with Auburn fans, alumni, city officials and Grady County residents at the Chamber of Commerce’s 88th Annual Dinner and Meeting to hear an Auburn legend speak about two of his favorite topics.
Pat Dye, the head football coach at Auburn University from 1981 until 1992, spoke for Grady County residents on Monday evening. His topics included football and trees.
This was not Dye’s first time visiting Cairo. He visited during the 1950s when his roommate at the University of Georgia was Grady County native Bobby Walden, the Bulldogs’ punter at the time who later became part of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl IX and Super Bowl X winning teams.
Dye also recruited Cairo’s Trey Gainous, Duke Donalson and Terry Solomon.
Prior to the dinner and lecture, Dye met guests and signed copies of his book, After the Arena, and Auburn memorabilia. He joked, “I’m going to talk about the first thing and then the other.”
Dye talked about living with Walden and throwing the shot put against Richard Crane and coaching his Cairo recruits. He also shared topics on coaching, living in Auburn and growing up on a farm.
He said, “I live on a farm now and I’ve got a tree farm filled with Japanese maple trees.”
Dye talked about being the owner of Quail Hollow Gardens Japanese Maple Nursery and how it is a dream come true. He had been fascinated by Japanese maples since 1982 when his landscaper planted one of the trees in his Auburn yard.
“If you don’t have one in your yard, now’s a good time,” encouraged Dye, who claims the trees are life changing.
He said the trees have their own personalities and he looks forward to watching them change throughout the year.
He added, “It’s changed my life by watching the colors change three or four times a year and watching it grow.”
He has 200 varieties of the tree at his nursery and about 7,000 trees overall.
Dye built the Auburn football program into a power in the Southeastern Conference. His record there was 99-39-4.
One of his Auburn’s beating Alabama in 1989 with the Crimson Tide play at Jordan-Hare stadium for the first time.
It is a popular legend that a search committee member for Dye’s interview for the head coaching job at Auburn asked him, “How long will it take you to beat Alabama?”
Dye replied, “Sixty minutes.”
From that time on, the Iron Bowl was played on either Auburn or Alabama’s home field. Dye was instrumental in moving the Iron Bowl to Auburn every other year.
He also coached four All-America linebackers and helped Alabama, as an assistant coach, to two national championships, three unbeaten season, five SEC titles and nine straight bowl games.
Currently, Dye is employed by Auburn University as a special assistant to the president. He was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame in 2005 and the UGA Circle of Honor in 2013
Most days, Dye spends time on his farm in Notasulgia, Ala., where he is involved in activities from his two businesses: Crooked Oaks Hunting Preserve and his nursery. He also has a weekly radio show, “The Coach Pat Dye Show,” that airs on Thursdays at 6 p.m. CST.
For more information on Dye’s book, Quail Hollow Gardens and his radio show, visit www.coachpatdye.com
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.