1893 was the first year that LSU sponsored a football team. The Tigers were coached by universityprofessor Dr Charles E. Coates against in-state school Tulane University of New Orleans. The game sparked a rivalry between the Tigers and the Green Wave that has lasted generations. Future LouisianagovernorRuffin G. Pleasant was the quarterback and captain of the LSU team. In the first game against Tulane, LSU football players wore purple and gold ribbons on their uniforms. According to legend, purple and gold were chosen because they were Mardi Gras colors, and the green of Mardi Gras was sold out. An LSU baseball team had also worn purple and gold in its first varsity game against Tulane earlier in 1893, even though LSU's official colors at the time were actually blue and white.
The Tigers adopted a new coach, Albert Simmons, for the three-game 1894 season. This season marked LSU's first ever victory with the 26–0 win over Natchez Athletic Club. The team's captain, Samuel Marmaduke Dinwidie Clark, became the first LSU player to ever score a touchdown during the game against Natchez A.C. The first football game played on the LSU campus was on December 3, 1894, against Mississippi. LSU's only touchdown in that game was scored by the head coach, Albert Simmons. This was the first year of play for William S. Slaughter who lettered as an End for 5 years (1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898). Slaughter was LSU's first five time football letterman.
Coach Albert P. Simmons, in his last year at LSU, helped the Tigers to an undefeated season in 1895. This was the first unbeaten season in LSU football history. The season also featured the first home victory in LSU history with a win over Tulane in front of 1,500 spectators. LSU joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) in 1895, and began playing as part of the conference in 1896.
The 1896 Tigers, with coach Allen Jeardeau, went undefeated and were the SIAA co-champions. This was LSU's first season playing as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA). It was LSU's second undefeated season in football. The 1896 team was the first LSU team to use the nickname "Tigers".
The Tulane game of this year was forfeited during the game due to Tulane having fielded an ineligible player. At the time that the game was declared forfeit, Tulane was leading with a score of 2 to nothing. About 10 minutes into the second half, LSU was moving the ball toward the goal line when a Tulane player named Depleche was injured. The injured player was replaced by George H. Brooke. LSU ran another play and gained 5 yards before realizing the identity of this substitute Tulane player. LSU's team captain, Edwin A. Scott protested to the game's referee, Lieutenant Wall. Scott cited the rules of the SIAA and the mutual pre-game agreement between the schools as reasons that Brooke should be declared ineligible to play. Tulane's team captain, Louis J. Genella, refused to take Brooke out of the game and stated that Tulane refused to play without him. After a lengthy debate, the referee ruled that Brooke could not play, and that Tulane forfeited the game by refusing to play without him. During the debate, Tulane argued that Brooke, who was previously a two time All-American at Pennsylvania, planned to enroll as a graduate student at Tulane. Brooke refused to sign an affidavit of his intention to enroll at Tulane. Due to the forfeiture, the official score was set at LSU 6, Tulane 0 by the game's referee. Dr. William Dudley, of the SIAA, later ruled that the game referee was right to declare the game forfeited and that men planning to enter a school were not eligible to play. Dudley ruled that prospective players should be enrolled for two weeks before being allowed to play in a game.
Coach Allen Jeardeau returned for his second but final year at LSU in 1897 for two games in Baton Rouge. A yellow fever outbreak throughout the South caused the postponement of LSU's classes starting, and the football season being cut back to only two games.
The Tigers, with new coach Edmond Chavanne, played only one game for the 1898 season. It was their third undefeated season. Another outbreak of yellow fever similar to the one in 1897 caused LSU to play only one game. By the time LSU was able to play its only game of the season, Allen Jeardeau had departed from the school as head football coach, and no provision had been made to replace him. The job of coach then fell to the team's captain, Edmond Chavanne. He holds the distinction of being the only player-coach in LSU football history. 1898 marked the final year of play for William S. Slaughter. He was LSU's first five time football letterman.
New coach John P. Gregg led the 1899 Tigers to a 1–4 season. The only wins were in an exhibition game against a high school team (which LSU does not officially record as a win) and against rival, Tulane. It was the first year of play for LSU's second five year letterman, John J. Coleman (1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903).