Statement from NFF Chairman Archie Manning on the passing of College Football Hall of Famers Pat Dye and Johnny Majors
“We lost two legends this week with the passing of College Football Hall of Fame inductees Pat Dye and Johnny Majors. Both were fierce competitors, but they knew how to leave it all on the field. Off the field, they had a deep passion for impacting the countless young men who they coached. Their memories will live on in those young men.
“I feel blessed to have known them both personally, and I will miss them both, especially at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner each December.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and the schools where they coached and played.”
Johnny Majors, a 1987 College Football Hall of Fame inductee as a player from the University of Tennessee, passed away June 3 at his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. Majors, who later saw success as a head coach at Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, was 85 years old.
Called Johnny “Drum” Majors during his playing days, he did it all for the Vols—running, passing, kicking and defending. When they call the roll of the game’s great single-wing tailbacks, Majors stands at or near the top of the list.
Playing for the Volunteers from 1954-56, Majors earned both SEC Player of the Year honors and All-SEC selection at tailback twice, in 1955 and 1956. A unanimous All-American in 1956, he finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting after leading the Vols to a 10-1 record, an appearance in the Sugar Bowl and a final national ranking of No. 2. He was also named United Press International’s Back of the Year.
A native of Lynchburg, Tennessee, and a graduate of Huntland High School, Majors finished his Tennessee playing career with 1,622 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 387 carries while also completing 54.1 percent of his passes (80 for 148) for 1,135 yards and 11 scores. He rushed for 549 yards and seven touchdowns on 108 carries in 1956.
Tennessee was 20-10-1 during his time as a Vol. Majors returned 36 punts for a 12.2-yard average and one touchdown in his career along with 15 kickoff returns for a 22.9-yard average. Majors also intercepted two passes at Tennessee and punted 83 times for a 39.1-yard average.
Majors was named to the Quarter-Century All-SEC team (1950-74) at running back, along with LSU’s Billy Cannon and Alabama’s Johnny Musso. When his Tennessee playing career ended, he ranked in the SEC’s all-time top 10 in total offense (2,757) and rushing (1,622) and was the league’s single-season record holder for completion percentage (61.0 percent in 1956).
The 1957 UT College of Education graduate was selected as Tennessee’s SEC Football Legend in 2002. His No. 45 was retired by his alma mater in 2012—one of only eight to earn that distinction.
After college, Majors played one season for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL before embarking on a long coaching career that began with stints as an assistant at Tennessee, Mississippi State and Arkansas.
Majors’ first head coaching job was at Iowa State from 1968-72, where he led the Cyclones to their first bowl game in program history.
From 1973-76, Majors posted a 33-13-1 record as the coach at Pittsburgh. He was named the National Coach of the Year in 1976 after leading the Panthers to an undefeated national championship season. At Pittsburgh, Majors coached College Football Hall of Famer and Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.
In 1977, he returned to his alma mater as the head coach through the 1992 season. The 1985 SEC Coach of the Year led the Vols to three conference titles, three top 10 finishes and seven bowl victories, including wins in the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowls and the 1990 Cotton Bowl Classic. At Tenneessee, he coached College Football Hall of Famer Reggie White. Majors finished his career at Tennessee with a 116-62-8 record before getting a second stint at Pittsburgh (1993-96).
After retiring from coaching, Majors served at Pitt in the position of Special Assistant to the Athletic Director and Chancellor until the summer of 2007. A room on the second floor of the Pittsburgh Athletic Association adjacent to Pitt’s campus is dedicated to him and displays memorabilia from his career. A street on Tennessee’s campus in Knoxville is named Johnny Majors Drive in his honor.
Coach Pat Dye, a 2005 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who led successful programs at East Carolina, Wyoming and Auburn, passed away June 1 at the age of 80. Dye has been hospitalized in recent weeks for complications regarding his kidney functions and had also tested positive for COVID-19.
Dye’s greatest success came at Auburn from 1981-92, where he posted a 99-39-4 record that tied him with fellow Hall of Famer Mike Donahue for the second most wins in program history. Prior to his arrival, the Tigers had won only one SEC title in 48 years. During Dye’s 12 seasons, the Tigers captured four SEC titles, including three straight from 1987-89.
During Dye’s tenure, Auburn won 10 or more games four times, finished in the top 10 nationally five times, and won six bowl games. The three-time SEC Coach of the Year and 1983 national coach of the year is one of only a handful of coaches in history to have coached a winner of the Heisman, Outland and Lombardi trophies.
While at Auburn he recruited and coached the university’s second Heisman Trophy winner in College Football Hall of Fame running back Bo Jackson, who won the award in 1985. Dye also recruited and coached Hall of Famer Tracy Rocker, the first player in SEC history to win the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award in the same year (1988). At Auburn, he coached 21 All-Americans, 71 All-SEC players and 48 Academic All-SEC players.
Dye also served as athletics director during his tenure at Auburn, where he inherited an overall athletic program that was struggling financially and helped make major improvements. He also upgraded facilities and was the driving force for moving Auburn’s home games vs. Alabama out of Legion Field in Birmingham to Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium beginning in 1989. The playing surface at Jordan-Hare Stadium was named Pat Dye Field in his honor on Nov. 19, 2005.
Dye’s first head coaching position was in 1974 when he led the East Carolina Pirates to a 7-4 record. In six seasons with the program, he produced a record of 48-18-1. Dye led the Pirates to the 1976 SoCon title and a win in the 1978 Independence Bowl. He spent one season as the head coach at Wyoming in 1980 where his team finished 6-5.
He began his coaching career as an assistant at Alabama from 1965-73 where he was in charge of the linebackers and was the staff recruiting coordinator.
As a player at Georgia, Dye earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 1957 and made the league’s All-Sophomore team the following year. He earned all-conference and All-America honors as a junior and senior. Dye was a two-time Academic All-American and was named the SEC’s Most Valuable Lineman in 1960.
After graduating from Georgia he served in the Army for two and a half years and was discharged as a first lieutenant. He played football while in the Army and in 1964 was voted Player of the Year for all of the armed services teams and won the Timmy Award from the Washington, D.C. Touchdown Club. Dye also played two seasons as an outside linebacker for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
Dye is survived by his four children, Pat Jr., Missy, Brett and Wanda, and nine grandchildren and his partner of 18 years, Nancy McDonald.
The Crooked Oaks Legacy Foundation (non-profit 501(3)(c)) has been established to honor Coach Dye, his legacy, and to continue his work and love of people, nature and the gardens he created at Crooked Oaks for everyone to enjoy. The foundation will also support the needs of qualifying students at Auburn University and Auburn University at Montgomery to further their education.
A memorial to honor Coach Dye will be held at a later date. Details will be announced once they have been confirmed.