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Craig Ogletree officiates funeral for coach Pat Dye

By Jason Caldwell, 247 Sports An All-American and one of the best pass rushers in Auburn football history, Craig Ogletree spent time in the NFL and has been a pastor the last 17 years in addition to working with Georgia Power. None of that fully prepared him for what he had to do this week, officiate the funeral of his former coach and Auburn legend, Pat Dye. ’It was a great honor, really kind of beyond me,’ Ogletree says. ‘Coach and I were close. We had spent time together in November before the Iron Bowl, doing the Great Southern Woods interview in the locker room. Afterwards he said, ‘˜Let’s go to practice.’ We’ve had our times through the years. We always laughed that we were both just good ole’ country boys from Georgia. ’My wife watched me the last few days and said, ‘˜I have never seen you this way.’ It was tough. First, just losing Coach and the relationship knowing what he’s done for you. He was in essence a dad. You leave home at 18 and your dad has taught you valuable lessons on how to work and you come to Auburn and he expounds on it and helps you to go on and deal with life. ’I was honored to be asked and him wanting me to do it. It was tough. It felt like what it must be like to eulogize and perhaps lay a parent to rest. That’s what it was. I had never really experienced that. Having to say the last words, it was a challenge, but a good challenge. God was right there the whole time and his service was beautiful.’ Laid to rest at the foot of a descendant of one of the original Toomer’s Oak trees on his farm ‘˜Crooked Oaks’, Dye made his final entrance in a moment that Ogletree says will be with him forever. ’We had a V of geese fly over and we were like ‘˜wow’, but what really got me was when the family had gathered together,’ Ogletree says. ‘We walked across the dam and up the hill to the oak trees. I’m standing there and you have the family and you could see the grave. I knew Coach wasn’t there yet. ’We were all there and it was getting ready to be sunset. It’s just a beautiful evening with the lake there and we’re up on the hill by the trees. All of the sudden you hear the sound of a wagon coming from across the other hill. Then you see an Auburn orange and blue wagon pulled by two beautiful work mules. You see the coffin and it’s draped with an Auburn letter blanket. You watch them come around the bend and up the hill to the burial site. That was tough, but very fitting. It was an experience I’ll never forget. It was fitting for Coach Dye.’ Saying that he wanted to be there for the family and friends that were surrounded on that hillside as the sun set on a beautiful day, Ogletree believes it was the perfect ending to a life well lived by Coach Dye and he was glad to be part of the experience to celebrate that life. ’I just wanted to make sure the spiritual side was right and I have no doubts about it. As many lives as he touched and transformed, God was with him. Yes, there are some struggles, but you don’t change lives and affect lives like he has and not be part of God’s plan. I’m grateful to have known Coach Dye and played for him and had conversations even up to six months ago. ’It was a chance to spend some final time with him and he did not know. He was frail in November, but you don’t think about him dying. We talked about life and he always asked about your family and how they were doing. It was the toughest ministry assignment for me to date. ’I felt like it was fit for him and a king. He was a great man and everything that happened he knew God was in it and it was God’s timing. It was something I’ll never forget and he’s a man I’ll never forget. I’ll never forget what he’s done for Auburn, but also for me. Just some of the valuable lessons that he taught me and continued to instill hard work in me just as my father did. It was quite an honor to be there with the family and try to help the family along with trying to help myself. I was struggling as well. God is faithful and he brought us all through it. God’s presence was there.’

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