Pat Dye, who died Monday at age 80, was best known as the College Football Hall of Fame coach who led Auburn to four SEC championships in the 1980s with stars such as Bo Jackson and Tracy Rocker.
Dye was one of Georgia’s high school football greats long before, the 1956 Georgia Class AAA high school Lineman of the Year while leading Richmond Academy of Augusta to a state championship.
Dye sacked Northside-Atlanta quarterback Stan Gann, a future Georgia Tech player, on the final play of the ’56 championship game to preserve a 13-7 victory. Dye often called the ‘56 Musketeers ‘’the toughest team I ever played for.’’
In recent years, many former Georgia high school players have made their marks as college coaches. The more famous of those are probably current coaches Kirby Smart of Georgia, Geoff Collins of Georgia Tech and Will Muschamp of South Carolina.
Here’s a subjective ranking of the 10 best college football coaches who played high school football in Georgia.
10. Mike Bobo: The current South Carolina offensive coordinator, Bobo was a head coach at Colorado State for five seasons (2005-19). His record there was 28-35. Bobo was Georgia’s quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator from 2001-14 through two SEC titles. A high school quarterback, Bobo was the AJC Class AA Offensive Player of the Year in 1992, when he led Thomasville to the state finals.
9. Chris Hatcher: The current Samford head coach, Hatcher has a 153-83 career record at Samford, Murray State, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State. Hatcher led Valdosta State to the 2004 Division II championship with a 13-1 record. Hatcher’s 2000 Valdosta State staff included Kirby Smart and Will Muschamp. A graduate of Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Hatcher a three-sport all-state athlete who went on to become an All-America quarterback at Valdosta State.
8. Chan Gailey: If his full coaching career were included, Gailey would be much higher. Gailey was a college head coach for nine seasons, compiling a record of 68-43. He led Tech to six consecutive winning seasons and bowl appearances (2002-07) and a 9-5 finish in 2006. His 1984 Troy State team won the Division II championship. Gailey was an NFL head coach for five seasons with the Cowboys and Bills. Gailey was a four-sport letterman at Americus and the Class AA first-team all-state quarterback in 1969.
7. Will Muschamp: The current South Carolina coach, Muschamp has a 54-46 career record at South Carolina and Florida. He was the defensive coordinator on LSU’s 2003 national-championship team and for Texas’ top-five national finishers in 2008 and 2009. Muschamp grew up in Gainesville, Fla., but was born in Rome and moved back there to finish high school at Darlington. He was a University of Georgia walk-on who became a defensive captain by his senior season.
6. Bill Curry: Curry’s record as a head coach isn’t stellar – 93-128-4 – but he’s revered at Tech for putting the program on sound footing again in the 1980s and leading his alma mater to consecutive victories over Georgia (1984-85) after Tech had lost to the Bulldogs six consecutive times. Curry also was head coach at Alabama and Kentucky and started the football program at Georgia State. Curry, playing for College Park, was the AJC’s Class A Lineman of the Year in 1959.
5. Pepper Rodgers: Rodgers was a head coach for 13 seasons at Kansas, UCLA and Tech. His 1968 Kansas team won the Big Eight and lost to Penn State 15-14 in the Orange Bowl. He coached alma mater Tech from 1974-79. His record as a head coach was 75-63-3. Rodgers, who died last month at age 88, was the quarterback for Brown High’s 1949 Class AA championship and played on Tech’s 1952 national-championship team.
4. Kirby Smart: Smart was the defensive coordinator for four national-championship teams at Alabama before becoming head coach at Georgia in 2016. His record at his alma mater is 44-12. Georgia’s 2017 team won the Bulldogs’ first SEC title in 12 seasons, won the Rose Bowl and was the national runner-up to Alabama. Smart was a 1993 first-team Class AAAA all-state player at Bainbridge and an all-SEC safety at Georgia.
3. Wally Butts: Butts, a native of Milledgeville, was the first Georgia native to become a nationally prominent college coach. Known as an innovator in the passing game, Butts led Georgia to victories in the Orange Bowl in the 1941 season, the Rose Bowl in the 1942 season and the Sugar Bowl in the 1946 season. His 1942 team with Heisman Trophy winner Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi claims a national title. Butts’ 22-year record at Georgia was 140-86-9. Butts was inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.
2. Pat Dye: The playing field at Auburn is named in Dye’s honor. That’s a tribute to his four SEC titles in the 1980s. Dye also was head coach at East Carolina, where he won a Southern Conference title in 1976 and won the Independence Bowl as an independent in 1978, and at Wyoming. Dye’s record was 153-62-5. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
» MARK BRADLEY: Pat Dye lifted Auburn to Alabama level
1. Frank Broyles: Broyles won seven Southwest Conference titles and one national championship (1964) at Arkansas. He was a top assistant on Georgia Tech’s 1952 national-championship team. His record as a head coach was 149-62-6. Broyles was a quarterback at Decatur High and Tech in the 1940s. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. Broyles died in 2017.
Notes: Thanks to Don Fendley of the Georgia High School Football Historians Association for helping compile this list. Fendley noted that another College Football Hall of Fame coach, Tommy Prothro, played high school football at Gainesville’s Riverside Military Academy as a boarding student. Prothro was from Memphis. He led UCLA and Oregon State to Rose Bowl games. Other notable coaches that might have been included are current Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins of Rockdale County (18-19 at Tech and Temple), current Louisiana-Lafayette coach Bill Napier of Murray County (18-10 at Louisiana-Lafayette), current Mercer coach Bobby Lamb of Commerce (108-79 at Furman and Mercer) and the late Bob Waters of Screven County (116-94-6 at Western Carolina).
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