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Legendary college football coach and former Eskimos player tests positive for COVID-19 while in hospital

Pat Dye poses with his busts after an induction ceremony at the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame on Oct. 31, 2014, in Jacksonville,Fla.
Pat Dye poses with his busts after an induction ceremony at the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame on Oct. 31, 2014, in Jacksonville,Fla.

Pat Dye, one-time Edmonton Eskimos player turned legendary U.S. college football coach, has tested positive for COVID-19 while in hospital.

The 80-year-old former Auburn Tigers head coach was in an Atlanta hospital with longstanding kidney issues when the coronavirus test came up positive.

According to reports, Dye is asymptomatic.

“As has previously been reported, my dad has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Dye’s son and NFL agent, Pat Dye Jr., told ESPN. “However, his positive test occurred a number of days ago during a routine precautionary test pursuant to his hospitalization for kidney-related issues.

“He has essentially been asymptomatic for the virus and is resting comfortably. We fully anticipate his release from the hospital in the next few days once his kidney function is stable. On behalf of my family, I want to thank everyone for the overwhelming support for dad and our family upon the reporting of this news.”

Named Auburn University’s head coach in 1981, Dye held the position for 12 years on the way to a 99-39-4 record. In that time, he won at least a share of four SEC championships (1983, and ’87-’89).

His Tigers went four seasons with at least double-digit wins, while also winning half a dozen bowl games. The three-time SEC coach of the year also finished first in the New York Times’ poll in 1983 to earn the title as national coach of the year.

Inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005, Dye also had the playing field at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium named after him.

Dye, who was also Auburn’s athletic director from 1981-91, coached 21 all-Americans, 71 all-SEC players and 48 academic all-SEC players, including, most famously, 1985 Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, as well as 1988 Outland Trophy and Lombardi award winner Tracy Rocker.

In 19 seasons coaching NCAA, including stops in East Carolina and Wyoming, Dye had a record of 153-62-5.

But prior to his Hall-of-Fame coaching career, Dye first cut his teeth in pro football in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos, alongside his older brother, Nat.

A five-foot-11, 210-pound product of his home state Georgia Bulldogs, Pat ventured north of the border following four seasons with the Bulldogs, 1957-60, which saw him rise to the ranks of first-team all-SEC lineman and two-time all-American.

A two-way starter at guard and linebacker, he was named outstanding Georgia lineman in 1960, one season after helping his team to the SEC championship and the Orange Bowl.

After graduating, Pat played both seasons of his professional football career as a two-way starter at tight end, but primarily linebacker with the Eskimos.

He had two catches for 58 yards, four interceptions, five fumble recoveries and two fumble-return touchdowns in 32 CFL games before returning south to fulfill an ROTC obligation with the U.S. Army in 1963-64.

There, he played with the Fort Benning Doughboys on his way to earning the Timmy Award as the Armed Services most valuable player.

ESPN reports Dye had been spending most of his time at his farm in Notasulga, Ala., in recent years.

E-mail: gmoddejonge@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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