Auburn University dedicated three statues Friday to three of Auburn’s most historic men.
Pat Dye, Ralph “Shug” Jordan and Cliff Hare all received full-size busts outside Jordan-Hare Stadium’s recruitment entrance. Former players, coaches, family members and fans attended the event.
“We honor three men that not only changed the face of Auburn football, but Auburn athletics, this conference, this state, this country and our world,” said executive associate athletic director Tim Jackson.
Dedicating the statues the night before No. 18 Auburn plays No. 2 Georgia in Jordan-Hare Stadium is no coincidence, as all three men share heavy ties to not only Auburn and the University of Georgia, but to the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.
The first statue unveiled was of Cliff Hare.
Hare was a member of Auburn’s first football team, which beat Georgia in the school’s first game. Hare later served as the first president of Southern Athletic Conference, now the SEC and ACC.
Hare’s statue was dedicated by Auburn’s Director of Athletics Emeritus David Housel and Hare’s grandson Cliff.
“These three men were not only sports icons, but Auburn University icons,” said Auburn University President Jay Gouge. “They are literally people that moved the needle that made this place better.”
Annually, Auburn presents the Cliff Hare Award to a senior student-athlete who achieves not only athletically and academically, but displays the qualities of leadership, integrity and courage, on and off Auburn’s campus.
The 2021 winner of the award was Auburn football’s Jordyn Peters, who is currently in the NFL with the New York Giants.
Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s statue was the second to be unveiled, dedicated by one of Jordan’s former players Terry Henley and his son Ralph Jordan, Jr.
Jordan is Auburn football’s winningest coach and led the school to its first ever championship in 1957. Jordan coached Pat Sullivan, coached at Auburn for 25 years and is the seventh-winningest coach in SEC history.
Combined, Jordan and Hare make up the namesake of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Jordan-Hare Stadium’s first iteration was Drake Field, which sat around 700 people in the late 1890s. Drake Field was quite literally a bare-bones field, where Auburn played and won its first ever home game against Mercer.
Fast forward about 130 years, and Jordan-Hare Stadium fans know today is a chapel to college football globally. The stadium now seats almost 90,000 fans and will forever hold the busts of its namesake outside its black gates.
“He was the man,” Henley said of Jordan. “He was the man, no question about it.”
Finally, and with the most tears shed, the statue of Pat Dye was unveiled. Dye’s statue was dedicated by Auburn football legend Bo Jackson and Dye’s son Pat Jr.
“The one thing that oozed from his pores, was character,” Jackson said of Dye. “He taught us how to be respectable adults.”
Jackson retold a story from his time leading into his senior season, where he was off to buy laundry detergent at a corner store, but was stopped by a man he had never seen.
The man presented Jackson a check for $5 million to forgo his senior football season at Auburn and join a developmental professional football league. Jackson denied the offer.
“It was not because I didn’t need the money,” Jackson said. “I was just trying to practice the character coach Dye instilled in us.”
In that following season, Jackson went on to win the Heisman Trophy.
According to Dye, Jr., Jackson was the last person that spoke to Dye before the coach passed away in June, 2020.
Among his many accomplishments, Dye was instrumental in brokering the deal for the Iron Bowl to be played in Jordan-Hare Stadium every other year.
In dedication to Dye, the playing surface in the Jordan-Hare Stadium is named Pat Dye Field.
Aside from the stadium and field that will forever hold their namesakes, the three bronze statues standing guard outside will honor the men who paved the way for Auburn.
All three men had impacts on Auburn that go far beyond just sports or academics. The Auburn University that students and fans know today would not be possible without the contributions of Hare, Jordan and Dye.
A quote from Hare was reiterated by all the people that spoke, and the quote rings true to this day:
“Athletics make men strong, study makes men wise, character makes men great.”
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Henry Zimmer is from Jacksonville, Florida, and is currently in his fifth year with The Plainsman. He is currently the Sports Reporter and can be followed on Twitter here: @henryzimmer