Watch: Auburn AD Allen Greene discusses Iron Bowl with Pat Dye, Craig Ogletree
In a new video for YellaWood, Auburn University Athletic Director Allen Greene sat down with two legendary Tigers — former head football coach Pat Dye and former linebacker Craig Ogletree — ahead of Saturday’s Iron Bowl game.
This marks the 30th anniversary of the Iron Bowl being hosted in Auburn when the Tigers are the home team, rather than the neutral site of Birmingham’s Legion Field. Dye was coach in 1989 when this happened and is widely credited as bringing the rivalry game to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
In the video, Dye explains the history of the Iron Bowl, also giving some interesting personal insight.
He opined that Legion Field was not really a neutral site but tilted towards the Crimson Tide. Dye also reflected on former University of Alabama head football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s role in continuing to hold the game at Legion Field for decades. Every Iron Bowl played during Bryant’s tenure coaching the Tide was held at Legion Field.
“Coach Bryant was smart, and he knew the value of playing in Birmingham,” Dye said. “And the first words out of his mouth when I met him, he said, ‘Well, I guess you’re going to want to take that game to Auburn.’ I said, ‘We’re going to take it to Auburn.’ And he said, ‘Well now, not as long as I’m coaching.'”
Bryant’s words held true, as there was a contract in place that ensured Legion Field hosted the Iron Bowl through 1988. Bryant passed away in 1983.
Dye, on bringing Auburn’s home Iron Bowl games to Jordan-Hare Stadium starting in 1989, emphasized, “I was in a situation (position) to change it, and it needed changing.”
“I knew what it would mean to our program,” he added. “And that would level the playing field. I knew that when they (the Tide) came down here and saw what was going on, that they would have to take the game to Tuscaloosa.”
Indeed, the University of Alabama soon followed suit. After expanding Bryant-Denny Stadium to slightly surpass Legion Field’s capacity, the Tide’s home Iron Bowl games moved to Tuscaloosa as of 2000.
Ogletree was playing for the Tigers in 1989, when the rivalry game was first played in Auburn.
He said it “was very exciting” to be a part of that now-historic contest.
Ogletree explained that Dye took the team to LaGrange, Georgia, the day and night before the game because the atmosphere in Auburn was so raucous. He noted fans began coming in to Auburn on Tuesday ahead of the Saturday game.
“It was unreal,” Ogletree commented.
Greene then prompted him to talk about the Tiger Walk ahead of that 1989 game, with a stunning image from that scene flashing on screen.
“Usually [in a] Tiger Walk, you have the width of the street — fans are on the sidewalk each side. But this day, it was single-file [for the players walking],” Ogletree advised.
Dye added some context about the emotions in that crowd.
“The look in their eyes — some of them [were] crying, tears running down their cheeks. They’d be holding babies up for you to touch,” Dye said, adding that Auburn fans of all ages were amongst that crowd. “It covered every scope of the Auburn fanbase.”
Dye continued to advise that the only challenge after that unparalleled entrance into the stadium was dealing with the raw emotions it brought up until kickoff.
Ogletree stressed that the players experienced a momentous welcome onto the field once inside the stadium, as well. This was the last game of Ogletree’s senior year and nothing he had seen before came close to the atmosphere that day inside Jordan-Hare.
Speaking about running out of the tunnel, he emphasized it was, “[Like] nothing I had ever experienced.”
“This was very, very unique and different,” Ogletree added.
The 20-minute video contains several other interesting nuggets for Auburn fans — and college football fanatics in general — including the moment Dye will never forget from that 1989 game. They also discussed the current state of the Iron Bowl and the sport as a whole.
In 1989, No. 11 Auburn defeated No. 2 Alabama 30-20.
The 2019 edition of the Iron Bowl kicks off shortly after 2:30 p.m. CT in Auburn, with CBS televising the game.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn