Heisman trophy victor Pat Sullivan passes away

Pat Sullivan

A native of Alabama, Sullivan starred for Auburn from 1968-1971.

Less than two weeks before the 2019 Heisman Trophy ceremony, a former victor of the prestigious award has passed away. He was 69 years previous.

Sullivan was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

Sullivan's unique and handsome legacy in this state shares no equal. Sullivan spent six seasons on the Auburn staff, before moving on as head coach at Texas Christian University, offensive coordinator at UAB, and head coach at Samford. Sullivan retired from coaching after his final farewell at Auburn.

Sullivan was a two-time All-American and named the SEC Player of the Year as a junior and senior. "Yes, I am blessed". He was one of the best quarterbacks in college football during his sophomore campaign, passing for almost 1,700 yards and 16 scores.

The recruitment for Sullivan was so intense that his parents, Jerry and Lorraine, created a weekly schedule for their son during his senior football season so he could manage his time. Tuesdays were for Auburn.

© Butch Dill, AP Samford head coach Pat Sullivan meets with Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn before an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Auburn, Ala.

After the NFL, Sullivan reconnected with Auburn as a member of the radio-broadcast team for Tigers' football games.

Sullivan was attending the game with Jordan as his guest, and the coach's vehicle broke down while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

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Sullivan's play prompted Bryant to say: "He does more things to beat you than any quarterback I've ever seen".

"Boy, that's Coach Bryant", Jordan said. He valued the friendships he formed through football perhaps more than the game itself.

Freshmen weren't eligible for varsity competition when Sullivan arrived on the Plains, so he had to wait until 1969 to take his first snaps for Auburn. Beasley holds the school's career mark for receiving touchdowns (29) and yardage (2,507) and Sullivan holds the top mark for touchdown passes with 53, AuburnTigers.com said.

The next season, he led the nation with 2,856 yards of total offense and led Auburn to a 9-2 record and a top 10 ranking.

In addition to the Heisman Trophy, Sullivan also earned the Walter Camp Award in 1971 and was the Sporting News Player of the Year. Sullivan played three seasons at Auburn, leading the Tigers to a collective 26-7 record.

The demand for tickets to watch "Sullivan to Beasley" was so great that it allowed Auburn to start its mandatory season-ticket plan.

"Pat Sullivan has given everything and more than anything we could have asked Samford", said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. "There have been a lot of Jacobs and King Davids behind him, but Pat Sullivan was Moses". Sullivan went a combined 6-4 as a player and coach against Alabama.

Sullivan told me that youth Toy Bowl team once attracted around 15,000 fans to Legion Field for a game.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist for the Alabama Media Group.

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