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Paul Dietzel

Title Head coach
Sport Football
Born September 5, 1924 (1924-09-05) (age 85)
Place of birth United States Fremont, Ohio
Career highlights
Overall 155-119-8
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
2 SEC (1958, 1961)
1 ACC (1969)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1958)
FWAA Coach of the Year (1958)
SEC Coach of the Year (1958)
ACC Coach of the Year (1969)
Playing career
1946-1947 Miami (OH)
Position Center
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
South Carolina

Paul Dietzel (born September 5, 1924, in Fremont, Ohio) is a former college football head coach at LSU, Army and South Carolina. He is also a former athletic director. He led the LSU Tigers to a national championship in 1958, a performance for which he was named the National Coach of the Year by both AFCA and FWAA.

Dietzel began his football career in Mansfield, Ohio, where his high school team went undefeated and tied for second in the state. After high school, he was given a scholarship to play football at Duke University. After one year at Duke, he served in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. From there he moved on to Miami University of Ohio, where he became an All-American at center.

After graduating from Miami in 1948, he began his coaching career as an assistant coach. He served under such legendary coaches as Red Blaik at Army and Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky.

In 1955, Dietzel became the head coach at LSU.[1] During Dietzel's first three years, none of his teams had a winning season.

In 1958, however, Dietzel came up with a unique 3-team platoon system. It consisted of 3 teams of 11 different players, and was designed to keep his players from being fatigued in an era when most players started on both offense and defense. Instead of replacing individual players during the game, Dietzel would bring in an entirely new set of players between plays and series. The three teams were called the White Team (the first-string offense and defense), the Gold (Go) Team (the second-string offense), and the Chinese Bandits (the second-string defense). The system worked, as the Tigers went undefeated and won the 1958 national championship. The Chinese Bandits second-string defensive unit, which consisted of less-talented but ferocious players, became hugely popular with LSU fans and remains one of the most legendary pieces of LSU football history.

After 1958, Dietzel continued to have success at LSU. His teams finished with 9-1 regular seasons in 1959 and 1961, finishing #3 and #4 in the final AP Poll. The 1959 team was ranked first in the country in both wire-service polls until losing to the Tennessee Volunteers 14-13 in the eighth game of the season, but suffered a 21-0 loss to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl, two months after the top-ranked Tigers beat the third-ranked Rebels 7-3 in Tiger Stadium on Billy Cannon's 89-yard punt return, the play helped win Cannon the Heisman Trophy.

After the 1961 season, Dietzel accepted the head coach position at Army. He was the first non-Army graduate to have the position. In a 2005 article for the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, Dietzel said that leaving LSU was one of the hardest decisions he ever made.

"I think the way you measure my move is 'Was LSU better when I left than when I came in?'" Dietzel said. "It was tough leaving. I never considered going anywhere else because I thought LSU was the best coaching job in America. I loved the LSU fans. They are crazy and passionate about it. I had never considered West Point because they had never had a non-graduate coach. When they came around and asked me if I would be interested, it opened a door I thought would never be opened."

However, he was not able to match the success he had at LSU and he had a record of 21-18-1 at Army.

Dietzel stayed at Army until 1966, when he became head coach and athletic director at the University of South Carolina. Despite coaching USC to the school's only conference championship of any kind in the sport, the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference championship, Dietzel's overall record was only of 42-53-1. In 1974, amid intense fan pressure, Dietzel announced that he would resign at the end of the season as the South Carolina football coach, following an upset loss to Duke as the Gamecocks fell to 0-2. Dietzel had become unpopular due to his team's continued mediocrity and failure to realize the lofty dreams that he had promised. Dietzel hoped to remain as the South Carolina athletic director, but was not allowed to.

As the South Carolina athletic director, Dietzel had greatly improved the athletic facilities. However, Dietzel is best remembered for leading South Carolina's withdrawal from the Atlantic Coast Conference in 1971. Dietzel felt that the ACC's higher academic entrance requirements were preventing the South Carolina football program from signing talented players which could propel the program to national prominence. The withdrawal was heavily criticized and questioned over the years. Dietzel has one other lasting legacy at South Carolina. During the first game of the 1968 season, Dietzel heard the school's band play the Broadway show tune "Step to the Rear" and decided that it should be the school's new fight song, and proceeded to write a new set of lyrics to the tune.[2] Later that season, the song, with Dietzel's lyrics, made its debut as "The Fighting Gamecocks Lead the Way", which has been Carolina's fight song ever since.[2]

Dietzel left coaching in 1975 to become the commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference for one year. He then served as athletic director at Indiana University before returning to LSU in 1978. He was the school's athletic director from 1978 to 1982. Dietzel also served as president of the American Football Coaches Association and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

After retiring from college athletics, Dietzel became a watercolor painter, and continues to sell his paintings. He is now retired and living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Anne.

Dietzel has authored another book that was released in September 2008, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the LSU 1958-59 National Football championship. The book's title is Call Me Coach: A Life in College Football and was published by Louisiana State University Press.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (1955–1961)
1955 LSU 3-5-2 2-3-1 9th
1956 LSU 3-7 1-5 11th
1957 LSU 5-5 4-4 7th
1958 LSU 11-0 6-0 1st W Sugar 1 1
1959 LSU 9-2 5-1 T-2nd L Sugar 3 3
1960 LSU 5-4-1 2-3-1 8th
1961 LSU 10-1 6-0 T-1st W Orange 3 4
LSU: 46-24-3 20-16-2
Army Black Knights (Independent) (1962–1965)
1962 Army 6-4
1963 Army 7-3
1964 Army 4-6
1965 Army 4-5-1
Army: 21-18-1
South Carolina Gamecocks (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1966–1970)
1966 South Carolina 1-9 1-3 7th
1967 South Carolina 5-5 4-2 3rd
1968 South Carolina 4-6 4-3 4th
1969 South Carolina 7-4 6-0 1st L Peach
1970 South Carolina 4-6-1 3-2-1 4th
South Carolina Gamecocks (Independent) (1971–1974)
1971 South Carolina 6-5
1972 South Carolina 4-7
1973 South Carolina 7-4
1974 South Carolina 4-7
South Carolina: 42-53-1 18-10-1
Total: 155-119-8
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also


  1. ^ LSU Gumbo Yearbook 1956, LSU Press, p. 318-319.
  2. ^ a b The Carolina Bands Collection: Series I: Sheet Music (1914-2000s): 1/12 "Step to the Rear." The Music Library at the University of South Carolina website. Retrieved 1 December 2009.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gaynell Tinsley
LSU Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Charles McClendon
Preceded by
Dale Hall
Army Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Tom Cahill
Preceded by
Marvin Bass
South Carolina Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Jim Carlen
Preceded by
Carl Maddox
LSU Athletic Director
Succeeded by
Bob Brodhead
Preceded by
Woody Hayes
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
Succeeded by
Ben Schwartzwalder


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