The Tiger In Winter

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Tiger In Winter

In November of 1993, maybe 90 minutes after Auburn beat Alabama 22-14 to finish the season undefeated, a small crowd had gathered in the old Plainsman Park parking lot, surrounding a single animated figure.

It was an ebullient Pat Dye, holding forth among the tailgaters.  I had just finished my education, and had just started writing my first book.  In both, Dye was a pivotal figure.

One guy in the crowd (at the time I thought of him as "an old dude," but I am very likely older today than he was then), who obviously knew Dye, remarked that he’d been scared to death at the half, when Auburn had gone into the locker room trailing by a touchdown.

Dye fixed him with a baleful glare. “That’s cause you ain’t a coach.” He paused for a bare moment and went on: “Any coach would’a looked at that first half, saw we had the ball for damn near 20 minutes, and knew we was gonna win.”

For some unknowable reason, Dye’s gaze shifted, and he looked me straight in the eye. Pat Dye did not then (and never did) know me from a mud-encrusted pair of plaid pants, but he fixed me with that coach stare and demanded, “What did we beat them by, six, seven?”

I managed to stammer, “Uh, I think it was eight, coach.”

Immediately:  “Well that ain’t no indication of how bad we whipped their ass!”

The rest was lost in the whoops of the surrounding crowd, and the mile-wide grin of Patrick Fain Dye, living in the moment and entirely in his element, one last time.

from From The Bleachers

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