BATON ROUGE, LA — Legendary former LSU head football coach and athletic director Paul Dietzel dies Tuesday monring, after battling a brief illness, according to LSUSports.net.
Dietzel coached the Tigers from 1955 to 1961. During his leadership, LSU won the 1958 National Championship of the modern-day college football era after suffering a near three-season losing record. LSU went to have a perfect 11-0 season in 1958, the first time that occurrence happened for LSU since 1908. During that time, he coached LSU's sole Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Billy Cannon.
Deitzel helped the Tigers win a second SEC title in 1961, then left the LSU program. Fans were outraged at his decision to leave in order to take a head coaching job at Army, where he once was an assistant coach. He was never able to completely duplicate his success from LSU at Army, nor at the University of South Carolina, where he did help the school win its sole conference championship in 1969 as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The hype across Louisiana and the nation of LSU football would not exist today without Paul Dietzel.
Dietzel was the architect behind LSU's famous "Chinese Bandits" defensive scheme and created the three-team platoon player system in an age where college football players used to play on both offense and defense. The system is still in use in college football to this day.
Even today's Tiger football players sport the color scheme Deitzel created for the school's uniforms, yellow gold helmets and pants with white jerseys adorned with purple numerals and stripes.
After spending head coaching tenures at Army and South Carolina and doing radio and television work, Dietzel eventually returned to be LSU's Director of Athletics from 1978 to 1982, based upon fan support. He served as Athletic Director at the end of the Charles McClendon era, his friend and successor to the LSU head coaching job. Dietzel brought in Jerry Stovall after his first choice, Bo Rein, died in an airplane crash over the Atlantic Ocean during a recruiting trip in 1980.
Dietzel and his wife, Anne, returned once again to live in Baton Rouge in 2003. He was in attendance when the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame building was opened in Natchitoches this past summer. He was inducted to the list in 1988.
Dietzel was also inducted into the LSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.
Dietzel was born Sept. 5, 1924, in Fremont, Ohio, the son of a furnace installer. Dietzel's family eventually settled in Mansfield, Ohio, where he excelled in three sports — football, basketball and track. He received a football scholarship at Duke, and played for one year before World War II stopped his football career briefly. He became a B-29 bomber pilot in the Army Air Corps, flying a dozen missions in the Pacific. Dietzel continued his college career after the war at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he graduated in 1948. Deitzel was an assistant coach at Cincinnati, Kentucky (under head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant) and Army (under head coach Red Blaik) before taking the LSU head coaching job.
Deitzel was 89 years old.