September 5, 1924|
|Died||September 24, 2013
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|Administrative career (AD unless noted)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|1 National (1958)
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)
Paul Franklin Dietzel (September 5, 1924 – September 24, 2013) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head coach at Louisiana State University (1955–1961), the United States Military Academy (1962–1965), and the University of South Carolina (1966–1974), compiling a career record of 109–95–5. Dietzel's 1958 LSU team concluded an 11–0 season with a win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl and was a consensus national champion. For his efforts that year, Dietzel was named the National Coach of the Year by both the American Football Coaches Association and the Football Writers Association of America. Dietzel also served as the athletic director at South Carolina (1966–1974), Indiana University Bloomington (1977–1978), LSU (1978–1982), and Samford University (1985–1987).
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 for coach Sid Gillman. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 26th round of the 1948 NFL Draft.
After graduating from Miami in 1948, Dietzel 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. During Dietzel's first three years, none of his teams had a winning season.
In 1958, however, Dietzel came up with a unique three-team platoon system. It consisted of three 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 national championship. The Chinese Bandits, the 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 No. 3 and No. 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. LSU concluded the season with 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, a play that helped win Cannon the Heisman Trophy.
After the 1961 season, Dietzel accepted the head coaching job at Army. He was the first non-Army graduate to hold the position. In a 2005 article for the Concordia Sentinel of Ferriday, Louisiana, 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, compiling 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 South Carolina to the school's only conference championship in football, the Atlantic Coast Conference title in 1969, 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, following an upset loss to Duke as the Gamecocks fell to 0–2.
Athletic administration career
As the South Carolina athletic director, Dietzel greatly improved the athletic facilities. During his tenure, Carolina Stadium grew from 42,000 seats at his arrival to 54,000 seats at his retirement.
He oversaw 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. Dietzel has one other lasting legacy at South Carolina. During the first game of the 1968 season, Dietzel heard the school's band play an arrangement of the Broadway show tune "Step to the Rear" from How Now, Dow Jones. Dietzel liked it so much that he decided it should be the school's new fight song, and proceeded to write a new set of lyrics to the tune. 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. Dietzel also designed the Fighting Gamecock logo which is still in use today.
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.
In 2005, Dietzel, along with timber industrialist Roy O. Martin, Jr., the civil rights pioneer Andrew Young, the comedian Kix Brooks, and the LSU woman's basketball coach Sue Gunter were named a "Louisiana Legend" by Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
Dietzel authored a book, Call Me Coach: A Life in College Football, that was published in September 2008 by the Louisiana State University Press.
His namesake grandson, Paul Dietzel, II, of Baton Rouge was a Republican candidate for the open seat from Louisiana's 6th congressional district in the nonpartisan blanket primary held on November 4, 2014.
Head coaching record
|LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (1955–1961)|
|Army Cadets (NCAA University Division independent) (1962–1965)|
|South Carolina Gamecocks (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1966–1970)|
|1969||South Carolina||7–4||6–0||1st||L Peach|
|South Carolina Gamecocks (NCAA University Division / Division I independent) (1971–1974)|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
- "1948 NFL Draft". pro-football-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 10, 2014.
- LSU Gumbo Yearbook 1956, LSU Press, p. 318-319.
- Chet Hilburn, The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football (Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press, 2012), p. 31
- 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.
- "Roy O. Martin, Jr. obituary". The Shreveport Times. March 24, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- Former national champion LSU coach Paul Dietzel dead at age 89 - SBNation.com
- "Election results 11/4/2014". Louisiana Secretary of State. Retrieved November 5, 2014.