KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Former Auburn coach Pat Dye‘s inflammatory comments to the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Monday caused only a ripple of interest here.
But in Alabama, Dye’s words were big news.
There wasn’t much context to Dye’s comments on Auburn’s quarterbacks in 2012. I’m told his talk was somewhat rambling. But we asked Gage Arnold, our intern who was covering the event, to transcribe the full passage from Dye’s comments.
“We had two last year — Mr. Footballs….Cut that thing off a minute… (laughter)…You got it off?”
(Dye is speaking to a TV reporter with a camera in the back of the room.)
“We had two last year and they both were cowards. Cowards. How can you win with a coward at quarterback? Now one of them might have been a coward mentally, and there’s a difference between being a coward mentally and a coward physically. If you’re a coward physically you’ve got no chance to overcome that, but you can grow up from being a coward mentally. But it didn’t happen so we had no chance.”
Dye, who turns 74 today, won four SEC titles at Auburn from 1981 to 1992. The field at Jordan-Hare Stadium is named in his honor.
AL.com columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wrote Dye had attached “one of the worst insults imaginable to young men who suited up for (his) school.”
Dye told AL.com that he had apologized privately to Kiehl Frazier, one of three quarterbacks on last year’s team.
Frazier’s dad accepted the apology.
Coach Dye is a great man. Forgiveness will never be withheld when sought in earnest. I've needed many second chances. Everyone move on.
— Robin Beach (@AUQBDad) November 6, 2013
That wasn’t the only interesting thing that Dye said on Monday.
On the 2012 team as a whole:
“I’ve been in football since 1952, started playing in eighth grade in 1952 and 2012 was the worst year in my football life at Auburn. I’ve never been sick of seeing kids quit.”
On Arkansas and Bret Bielema:
“You know, Bielema at Arkansas, you know, he needs to keep his mouth shut. I don’t know what it is. He wants to slow the game down, he wants to do this, he wants to do this, he wants to do that…. But anyway, they came out in the swinging gate on a field goal formation and ended up throwing for a first down at the 1-yard line. They didn’t score cause we held them four downs at the 1-yard line.”
Scarbinksy wrote that it’s Dye who needs to watch what he says — or say nothing at all.
“Increasingly, he comes across, not as a legendary former football coach, but as a retired crank who can’t let go of the spotlight. It’s past time for him to let it go, to be admired for what he did, not reviled for what he’s said.”
Were Dye’s quotes “off the record?” The short answer is no. A speaker in front of hundreds of people cannot unilaterally declare something off the record. In this case, Dye didn’t even attempt to do so. He merely asked someone to turn off a camera. The Knoxville Quarterback Club is a widely attended, widely publicized event held in a public place. Media are always present and report on the weekly speaker’s comments.
Here’s an interview conducted with Dye after his speech.