Tiger Den Archives – XI

The 1937 Tigers were victimized by one of the most famous trick plays in college football history.
Commodore Surprise

Bernie Moore

Biff Jones

Ray Morrison

Dan McGugin

Henry Frnka

Guy Milner

Carl Hinkle

Pinky Rohm

Dutch Reinschmidt

Young Bussey

Buford Ray

Bert Marshall

Ray Andrus

Ken Kavanaugh

Jack Gormley

Jabbo Stell

Jake Messina
The 1937 LSU Tigers were on a roll.
  • Bernie Moore's juggernaut had won 13 SEC games in a row, the last loss coming to Tennessee 19-13 in the final conference game of the 1934 season under Coach "Biff" Jones.
    The SEC was often referred to as the "Big 13 Conference" in newspaper articles during this period.
  • Also, since the 10-7 loss to Rice in the 1935 season opener, Moore's first game as head coach, the Tigers had gone 23-0-1 in regular season games.
  • Included in Moore's streak were two victories over Vanderbilt: 7-2 in 1935 and 19-0 in 1936, both in Nashville. Coupled with a 29-0 trouncing of the Commodores in 1934, also in the Tennessee capital, LSU sported a three-game winning streak over Vandy.
  • Despite deploying a squad that was almost 80% sophomores and having to replace 13 of his first 22 from '36, LSU began Bernie's third season with four straight shutouts: Florida 19-0, Texas 9-0, @Rice 13-0, Ole Miss 13-0.
  • The result was a #6 ranking (with two first place votes) in the first Associated Press poll of the season.

Next up were the Commodores in Nashville.

  • Vanderbilt had suffered its first losing season in 22 years in 1936 in the second season after coach Ray Morrison took over from the legendary Dan McGugin.
  • But the '37 'Dores had matched LSU's 4-0 start, with three shutouts of their own.
    Kentucky 12-0, Chicago 18-0, @Southwestern (TN) 17-6, @SMU 6-0
  • The news of a resurgent squad in Nashville had gained national attention, as evidenced by Vanderbilt's listing in a three-way tie for 20th in the Associated Press rankings.

Tired of losing to LSU, Morrison thought he had to dream up something, in the words of Commodore LT Greer Ricketson years later.

This was a special game for the reason that they were highly ranked. According to Morrison, LSU was going to be particularly tough because they hadn't lost a game since the year before. We had not lost a game but had not done as well as LSU. I think he realized that if it was just straight football that we weren't going to win.

So Morrison decided to install a trick play that was suggested to him by his assistant, Henry Frnka.

  • On the Friday night prior to the Vandy-SMU game in Dallas the week before, Frnka asked Morrison to accompany him to watch Henry's former Greenville High School team play a game.
  • Frnka asked the current coach to run a hidden ball play that Henry installed in 1933 when the team won the state title.
  • The play worked for a touchdown, which convinced Morrison to install it for LSU.

After the Commodores returned victorious to Nashville, they began preparations for the Tigers.

  • Morrison kept the eleven starters after practice and made all the other players leave the field. In secrecy, Frnka installed the trick play.
    Vandy T Morris McLemore said the players "laughed at Morrison. He was a very pleasant man and excellent teacher but often given to wild-eyed experiments. After a few seconds, however, we realized he was serious and shut up."
  • Later in the week, Frnka visited the starters in their dorm rooms and continued to work on the play.
  • The Vandy line coach didn't want to run the play because it was too risky and might backfire. To placate him, Morrison named the play after the name the players called the line coach – "Pig Eye."
  • The plan called for using "Pig Eye" on the second play of a possession when Vandy had the ball near midfield on or near the right hashmark.

Coach Moore was wary of the Commodores.

  • I'm expecting the unexpected, he said.
  • His Tigers entered the fray at full strength
  • Unlike 1934 when Huey Long led a trainload of Tiger supporters, including the entire band, on a parade through downtown Nashville to the stadium, the colorful brigade of the cadet corps, band, cheerleders, mascot Mike, and other units was not making the trip.

Dudley Field (1922)
Saturday, October 23, 1937, dawned overcast and chilly (36° dropping 2° by game's end) in Nashville with a brisk wind blowing from the northwest.
  • Afraid an official might blow his whistle and stop the secret play, Morrison explained the plan to the referee during pregame warmups.
  • Ten minutes before kickoff, the Vanderbilt band marched out and played the national anthem for the crowd of 18,000 in Dudley Field.
  • Vandy captain Carl Hinkle and LSU captain James Warbrod, appointed for the game because he hailed from Tennessee, met for the coin toss. Hinkle won and chose to defend the north goal to have the wind at his back. LSU decided to go on defense first.

Quarter 1

  • Jimmy Huggins returned Guy Milner's kick 27y to the 33. When the Commodores failed to gain a first down in three tries, Huggins boomed a 61y punt to the 12.
    When two runs gained only four, Pinky Rohm punted to Huggins who returned it 4y to the Vandy 44.
    Following Huggins' run to midfield, Vandy decided to pull their secret play. In the huddle, QB Dutch Reinschmidt said the magic words, "Pig Eye."
    When the team broke the huddle, Reinschmidt told the referee, "This is it."
    On the sidelines, Coach Morrison couldn't watch. He put his hands over his eyes and told assistant coach Willie Geny, Tell me when it's over.
    Dutch moved up from his usual single wing position to a spot under center as in the T formation. When the ball was snapped to him, he spun completely around, paused a moment, then ran around LE behind three blockers. Known for its pursuit, the entire LSU defense raced toward him. Reinschmidt faded back to draw the defense in still further. Even the officials, who knew about the play, went to the left. In the meantime, senior LT Greer Ricketson began running downfield with the football. By the time the defenders gave chase, no one could pull within 20y. Teammate Preacher Franklin was the closest to him as Greer crossed the goal. FB Joe Agee booted the all-important extra point. Vanderbilt 7 LSU 0 with less than five minutes gone.

    Greer Ricketson runs unimpeded for a touchdown with the "hidden ball."
    What happened? When Reinschmidt received the snap, he placed the ball on the ground behind LT and LG. Let Ricketson take it from there. I switched from tackle position to guard and pulled out like a running guard back in the backfield. Then I did a fake stumble and fall. The guard and the tackle on the left side were to block still and not let anybody break through. They didn't charge into the defense, they tried to make a wall. My assignment was to stay on the ground to the count of three. ... I picked up the ball and ran straight down the field, which was wide open. ... I thought I'd be tackled any instant and didn't learn until later LSU had no idea where the ball was until it heard the roar of the crowd. Following the game, the question arose as to whether my knee was touching the ground when I picked up the ball. It wasn't.
    Pictures of Hidden-Ball Play from LSU Gumbo Yearbook Class of 1938
    Ricketson was chosen to run with the ball for two reasons. First, he was the fastest offensive lineman. Second, playing end the year before gave him experience carrying the ball.
    Vanderbilt was one of a minority of schools that filmed its games. The footage of the play was run and rerun to determine if Ricketson's knee was on the ground when he picked up the football. In today's lingo, no incontrovertible evidence was found to reverse the call on the field. When Morrison distributed a copy of the LSU film to opponents, the hidden ball play was removed.
    Vandy tried the play twice more that season. Morrison: We tried it the following week against Georgia Tech, and it didn't work. Then we tried it on Tennessee, and it backfired. One of their linemen jumped over our guard and fell on the ball.
    Eventually, the NCAA made the play illegal.
    On LSU's next possession, Milner gained 20y on a reverse, but the Tigers soon had to punt.
    The Tiger woes continued when Milner took a shanked punt at his 40 and returned to midfield only to fumble the ball back to Vandy.
    The period ended with the Commodores playing 3rd-and-9 at the LSU 20.
    Vanderbilt 7 LSU 0
    Raymond Johnson wrote this for The Nashville Tennessean the next day: Probably not a half dozen persons out of the massive throng really knew how the play occurred. The writers, who packed the press box, had various views of it. Scouts from a number of schools were still trying to figure it out last night. No one, except the Vandy coaches and the players, knew exactly how the play was executed.
    As an example, Harry Martinez's description of the play in the Times-Picayune contained a number of errors.

Quarter 2

  • After an incomplete pass, Agee attempted a FG from the 30 but it failed.
    Vanderbilt's strength was its line, led by Ricketson and fellow T, 252-lb Buford Ray. With the entire front seven playing all 60 minutes, the Commodores continued to thwart the Tiger offense at every turn.
    Sophomore sensation Young Bussey quick-kicked on 3rd down to the 25, but speedy Bert Marshall ran it out to the 41.
    After an exchange of punts, the Commodores pushed all the way to the LSU 13. Junius Plunkett tried to drop kick a FG from the 20 to no avail.
    The Tigers never got out of their own territory the entire quarter.
    Vanderbilt 7 LSU 0

Quarter 3

  • The teams exchanged fumbles, then punts.
    The Tigers finally moved into enemy territory to the 32. but a fumble once again ended the thrust.
    The teams changed ends with Vandy on the LSU 33.
    Vanderbilt 7 LSU 0

Quarter 4

  • The Commodores again penetrated deep into Tiger territory, reaching the 9 before a 2y loss set up another FG try. But Ray Andrus missed from the 20.
    Still in the game thanks to defensive stands and missed field goals, the Tigers finally mounted a drive into what today is called the "red zone." Milner made a beautiful catch of a pass from Bussey and ran to the 25 for a gain of 50y. Hardy Housman made a touchdown-saving tackle.
    The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate writer singled out Milner for his fine play. Milner was simply superb. He blocked with venom, he tackled like a madman, he ran hard, caught passes, barely missed tossing a touchdown pass, beat the ends down under punts, kicked off and heaven knows what else.
    Two plays later, Young sped around RE behind Milner's blocking for a 1st down at the 12. But two running plays gained only a yard, and Bussey failed to connect on successive passes into the end zone to sophomore E Ken Kavanaugh and senior E Jack Gormley to turn the ball over on downs at the 20.
    Vandy ate up valuable time by moving to the LSU 34 with the aid of an unnecessary roughness penalty. But the Tigers stopped Marshall at the 29 three yards short of moving the chains on 4th down to get one last shot at tying the game.

    Lunsford Hollins tackles Charles LeMak after a 5y run in Q4.
    Bussey found Kavanaugh who fell as he caught the ball at the 47. After an incompletion, the sophomore TB gained 14 around RE and was bailed out when Ken recovered his fumble on the 37. A long pass fell just out of Jabbo Stell's reach near the goal line. After a Vandy timeout, Gormley and a Commodore leaped to catch Bussey's pass. When Jack fell to the ground, an official called interference. The penalty put the ball on the 17. From there with less than two minutes left, Bussey dropped back and fired to Stell who caught it at the 5, was hit at the 3, but fell over the goal line.
    Barrett Booth set up to kick the tying point with Bussey holding, but C Warbrod centered the ball before Young was set. The ball went through his hands and rolled to the 20 where Commodore G Ed Merlin fell on it.
    Under the rules of the day, the team that had just been scored on could kick or receive the kick. Naturally Vandy chose to receive. Booth kicked to the 10, Ralph Hinton returning to the 25. The 'Dores ran two end sweeps to kill the clock.
    Thus did Vanderbilt defeat LSU for the first time since 1910.
    Vanderbilt partisans rushed onto the field. Scrappy Tiger G Jake Messina grabbed the game ball before Vandy Captain Hinkle could claim it. But as Messina tried to run off with the souvenir, a Commodore knocked it out of his hands, and Hinkle seized it.
    Fans carried some of their heroes off the field on their shoulders, then snake-danced through the campus to the business sector a mile away.

The game was not as close as the score indicates.

  • First downs: Vanderbilt 16 LSU 9
  • Total yards: Vanderbilt 109 LSU 97
  • Yards rushing: Vanderbilt 238 LSU 90
  • Yards passing: LSU 148 Vanderbilt 65
A note in the Nashville Tennessean the next day: In the hotel where L.S.U.'s team and most of its supporters were staying, the gloom hung heavier than a mountain fog. There was the man who wandered through the lobby in a daze. At intervals he would start, his lips would move, and dolefully would come the words - "Seven to Six." With a shake of his head he would move on.
And there was the L. S. U. student, whose voice pierced the lull in the babble of conversation: "Ray Morrison may have coached those birds," he moaned, "but Houdini must have had something to do with it."

LSU would not win the 1937 SEC championship, but neither would Vanderbilt.

  • The Commodores jumped up to #5 in the next AP poll while the Tigers fell to 17th.
  • But Vandy's lofty ranking didn't last long. One week later, Georgia Tech upset them 14-0 in Atlanta.
  • However, wins against Sewanee (the 13th member of the SEC until 1940) and Tennessee put Morrison's squad in position to win the conference if they could beat 8-0 Alabama at home in the finale.
  • With the winner of the game rumored to be in line for a bid to the Rose Bowl, the Crimson Tide edged the 'Dores 9-7 and did indeed travel to Pasadena, where they lost to California 13-0.

Alabama-Vanderbilt Action
Meanwhile, the Tigers won their remaining five games to finish the regular season 9-1.

Dr. Ricketson
Greer Ricketson earned an M.D. from Duke and then trained in Plastic Surgery at Tulane. He died in 2007 at age 90.
In 2004, a reporter for the Vanderbilt website asked Dr. Ricketson if people still asked him about "the play." I will be at a place and somebody will ask, "You carried the ball, didn't you, in the Vanderbilt-LSU game?" It has just hung on all these years. I've sort of kidded in a nasty sort of way. When I get to know some of the coaches over there at Vanderbilt, I tell them I wish that they would do something good so they'd quit talking about that LSU-Vanderbilt hidden ball play.
Dietzel and McClendon - Episode 1 Part 1
An Orange Bowl invite firmly in hand, Paul Dietzel's 1961 Tiger team, whom many observers, including the coach himself, considered better than the 1958 National Champions, clobbered Tulane 62-0 to complete a 9-1 season. As LSU began preparations to meet Colorado in Miami New Year's Day, an event 1,400 miles away from Baton Rouge would change Tiger football forever.
  • December 9, 1961
    Army dismissed head football coach Dale Hall, who compiled a 16-11-2 record in three years. Following the legendary Earl Blaik, who went 121-33-10 in 18 season, Hall's record wasn't good enough, especially since he was 0-3 vs Navy. The an­nouncement of the firing stated that Hall would be replaced by "the finest coach available." That implied that West Point would break with its tradi­tion of restricting the coaching post to academy graduates. That opened the door for potential candidates who served as assistants at Army dur­ing Blaik's tenure, including Dietzel, who served at West Point in 1953-4.
    In his book Fighting Tigers, Peter Finney told this story, which he could have gotten only from Dietzel himself.
    Several days after Navy defeated Army, Paul Dietzel picked up his Baton Rouge
    Morning Advocate to learn that Dale Hall ... had been fired. Dietzel looked across at his wife and said: "Honey, better start packing." ... The same day he learned of Hall's dismissal, Dietzel placed a long-distance call to Joe Cahill, sport publicity director at West Point, indicating interest in the job.
  • December 11
    The LSU head man told reporters, I am very happy here and plan no change.
    In his 2008 autobiography, Dietzel recalled: Since I had coached at West Point on two occasions, once as plebe coach and once as line coach, the academy's athletic director called and asked if I would be interested in the job. When Colonel Blaik retired several years before, I never remotely con­sidered applying for the position, because you never want to follow a legend, and Colonel Blaik was definitely a legend. ... Besides, Army had never hired a head football coach who was not an alumnus of the institution. ... When the athletics director called me, I pointed out that I was not a gradu­ate of West Point. He said they had decided to go in a different direction. So I asked him to let me think about it.
    I called the West Point athletics director back the next day and asked, "Who's on your short list? Who are you interested in talking with?" He said, "We've got it down to three. They are Murray Warmath, who has just been named Coach of the Year at Minnesota, where he had a national championship team; Vince Lombardi ..., and you." I said, "Well, that's a very heady group. I'm quite honored to be in the company of those fellows, but if LSU finds out that I'm even thinking of another job, they'll probably fire me." ...
    I immediately spoke with Jim Corbett, our athletics director, and said, "Jim, Army has asked me to apply for the heading coaching job, and I've told them that I can't be a candidate if I'm just one of several prospects on their list. But if they would really like to hire me, then I'd like to talk with them."
    And Corbett said, "You know you've got a long contract here, Paul."
    "I know that, Jim," I said, "and if this is going to be a major problem, or if LSU will not release me, I'll just tell West Point right now that I'm not in­terested in the job."
    And he said, "What would it take to keep you here?"
    I replied, "If I stay at LSU, I do not want a raise in salary." At the time, I was making $18,000 a year. "I don't want people to think they had to buy me to get me to stay. It really doesn't have anything to do with money at this point. The academy won't pay me any more than I'm making here. But if LSU will not release me, I'll just tell them to take my name out of the hat."
    He said, "No, if you want to go, there's no way we would want you to stay. It wouldn't be good for either of us." So I talked with the Army officials, superintendent General William Westmoreland, and athletics director Colonel Hank Adams.
  • December 15
    The LSU Board of Supervisors announced that Dietzel and his staff would receive an extra 10% for their extra work coaching the bowl game.
  • December 17
    Amid continual questions about the West Point job, Paul insisted, My one thought is to get ready for the Colorado job, and that's all I'm worried about.
  • December 20
    LSU AD Jim Corbett acknowledged that Dietzel was one of the finest young coaches in the nation and deserved being sought after by other universities. While admitting that he had not discussed with his head coach the media reports of Dietzel considering a move to West Point, Jim said, I would certainly be very sorry to see him leave and promised to do ev­erything in his power to prevent the departure. I will tell you one thing. If he does decide to leave LSU, he will be leaving the finest coaching job in Ame­rica.
  • December 21
    An Associated Press article stated that Jack Green, Florida assistant, and Murray Warmath, head coach at Minnesota, were reported Thursday to have the inside track for the top football post at Army ... "Out of deference to the coaches themselves, we have decided not to release any names," said Col. Emery S. Adams Jr., Army athletic director. ... Dietzel, whose $18,000-a-year contract at LSU has four more years to run, and (Vince) Lombardi, who has raised the Packers to championship status, are considered out of reach. ... The Army job pays between $15,000 and $20,000 a year, offers excellent living quarters, and has other fringe benefits, not the least of which is its tremendous national prestige.
    Meanwhile, LSU ended its football practice sessions for the Christmas holidays. Players would report back to campus the night of December 25.
    During the Christmas break, Dietzel flew to New York to meet General William Westmoreland, superintendent of West Point, at the Interna­tional Hotel near Kennedy Airport. Following a discussion of the head coach position. Paul told the general that, if details could be worked out, this is what I'm looking for.
  • December 26
    LSU's staff and 52 players flew to Miami and went directly to the Univer­sity of Miami field for a brief workout and a session with the media.
  • December 27
    The Tigers practiced in private, as they would continue to do until game day.
    Back in New Orleans, Judge Oliver P. Carriere, who was on the LSU Board of Supervisors when Dietzel was hired, said he put no stock in the rumors that Paul was headed to West Point. Paul assured us that, if he made good as head coach, he would stay as long as he was wanted. We asked him point-blank if he would break the contract with us in the event he re­ceived an offer to go to West Point or to his alma mater, Miami Ohio, or to any other university. He was most emphatic in stating he would not leave LSU and would not break his contract. I for one sincerely believe him. He is a gentleman of high character - one whose word is his bond.
    Carriere did more than just express his feelings to the press. He met the charter bus that took the LSU board members to Moisant Airport to catch a plane to Miami and pressed his argument that the board should hold Dietzel to his contract.
  • December 30
    The Times-Picayune included this column by sports editor Bill Keefe: From a reliable source comes the confidentially-expressed statement that the Uni­ted States Military Academy HAS contacted Paul Dietzel of LSU with the offer of head coaching job at West Point. From the same source comes the opinion that Dietzel WILL ASK the Louisiana State university athletic board TO RELEASE HIM FROM HIS CONTRACT SO THAT HE MAY ACCEPT WHAT IS CONSIDERED THE PLUM OF THE COACHING PROFESSION, COLLEGIATE OR OTHERWISE.
    Further, through the grapevine comes the report that LSU WILL grant Diet­zel's request. Still further, says the report which is considered well-grounded, DIETZEL WILL TAKE FOUR TIGER COACHES ALONG WITH HIM TO THE POINT. The four coaches Dietzel wants are named in the allegedly well­founded report, as Bill Shalosky, who at one time was, like Dietzel, an assistant coach at West Point; Larry Jones and Charlie Pevey, two former LSU star players, and George Terry, who has done some brilliant coaching in the Tiger backfield both on offense and defense.
    Dietzel is not the kind of man who would jump a contract. I, for one, firmly believe he will not make the change unless given the green light by the LSU board. But, if the Army offer is made it would be surprising if LSU would say nay to Dietzel's shift from the Old War Skule to the new war school. No organization would want to retain a man who would want to make a move.
    It would later be revealed that Keefe's "reliable source" was New Or­leans Congressman F. Edward Hebert, chairman of the House Armed Forces Committee.
    Dan Hardesty wrote in the Baton Rouge State Times Advocate that after­noon: Dietzel this morning said he had no comment on a report by a New Orleans sports editor that he would accept the head coaching job at Army. ...
    It was learned, however, that prior to leaving Baton Rouge last Tuesday Dietzel had had discussions with West Point officials regarding the Army job. It was not known whether these discussions had reached the stage of a firm offer of the job.
    One point which has frequently been made concerning the current rumors is that Dietzel this time has not said that he isn't interested in the Army job. He has said only that his interest is in beating Colorado.
    Well-informed persons here in Miami with the LSU party today were inclined to believe the old saying "where there's smoke there's fire."
    It was believed to be certain that as of now the job has not been offered by Army or accepted by Dietzel but in all probability Dietzel and the West Point authorities will hold further discussions after the Orange Bowl.
  • December 31
    The Tigers and Buffaloes went through their final workouts in surprisingly chilly weather - in the 30s in South Florida.
    That night, John Doles, chairman of the LSU Board, released a statement from his home in Plain Dealing LA: There have been some rumors concerning the status of LSU Football Coach Paul Dietzel. I have today been in contact with a majority of the members of the LSU Board of Supervisors. We have the utmost confidence in Mr. Dietzel. He has not requested us to release him and, as far as we are concerned, he has four years left on his contract.
    1,000 miles away in Miami, Advocate sports editor Bud Montet interviewed three of the assistant coaches rumored to be making the move with Diet­zel.
    George Terry: You will have to ask Paul for any information. Pressed fur­ther, Terry added: If Paul goes, I expect to go with him.
    Larry Jones: I don't know anything about the Army situation. I will have to talk to Coach Dietzel.
    Charlie Pevey: Before I go to West Point, I want to know a number of things.
    The last of the four, Bill Shalosky, was unavailable for comment.
    A headline in a Miami newspaper proclaimed, LSU to Give Coach Goodbye Win, provided Dietzel with the theme for his pregame pep talk. He re­called in his autobiography: We always entertained the team with a mov­ie on nights before games. ... But this night was unusual because of the news­paper article, and I decided to do what I always did with my players - tell them the truth. I said, "Fellas, you all read the newspaper article about whe­ther Paul Dietzel is going to take the job at West Point or not. I just want­ed to tell you that I don't want that to have anything to do with your atti­tude. Whether I stay at LSU or whether I go to Army is of no consequence. Just remember all those hours of practice that you've put in, and all the preparation for the football season in the heat and humidity of the summer. Think of all of the summer letters we sent you telling you what you should be doing each week in your workouts. Think back to all the times you felt you were about to die during two-a-days. You just can't throw all that away. This game is about you, it's not about Paul Dietzel. It's about you and LSU. We've had a great year, and we have to cap it off with a win in the Orange Bowl. ... This game is for you, not for anyone else - you and LSU. You'll remember it for the rest of your lives!"
    Later that evening, Paul and his wife Anne ran into outgoing LSU presi­dent, General Troy Middleton and his wife Jerusha.
    Dietzel: He said, "Paul, I want to talk to you. How about coming up to our room."
    I thought, "Uh-oh." So we went up to his room, and General Middleton said, "Paul, I hear you're thinking about West Point."
    I said, "Well, General Middleton, yes, they've offered me the head coach­ing job."
    Then he asked, "Paul, why haven't you come to talk to me?"
    I answered, "General, I was getting ready for a bowl game, but that's not an excuse. I talked with Jim Corbett, and I presumed that he had spoken with you about it."
    General Middleton then said, "Paul, you know that Jerusha and I are very fond of you and Anne, and you have done a superior job here at LSU. We appreciate that, and we don't want to lose you. However, the Army football team is the mirror of the United States Army. West Point has got to have a good football program. They did have a fine one, but in the last few years, it has suffered a great deal. If they want you at West Point, you have got to go!"
  • January 1, 1962
    Bernell Ballard in his "Sports Front" column in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate listed "quotable quotes" from Paul Dietzel.
    Paul Dietzel in April, 1955 - "I've bought a house here and I told the people in the neighborhood I'd be here quite a while. LSU is not a stepping stone for me."
    Paul Dietzel in December, 1959, when Earl Blaik resigned the Army coach­ing job - "I signed a five-year contract with LSU and I told General Middle­ton and Jim Corbett I wanted to coach here and I intended staying here."
    Paul Dietzel, commenting further on the Army opening in 1959 - "I'm not interested in the West Point job or any other job except the one I have at LSU. And to be even more specific, I would not accept the West Point job or any other job if it were offered me."
    Paul Dietzel, again on the same subject in January, 1960 - "I think it would be presumptuous of me to even discuss it
    (leaving LSU for Army), inasmuch as I have signed a new contract with LSU."
    Paul Dietzel, later reassuring his followers of his intentions at LSU - "I will never leave LSU for another coaching job."
    Paul Dietzel, December, 1961 - "No comment."

    That afternoon, the Bayou Bengals, in Dietzel's words, beat the stew out of Colorado. The final score was 25-7. Several LSU players carried their coach off the field.
    Afterward, Paul finally broke his "no comment" barrier on the Army job.
    Concerning my moving to Army, I put it out of my mind until this game was over. Now I'll give it my full consideration ... I have no further comment. ... He then implied he had been approached by West Point officials. I decided I wouldn't do a thing about the Army offer until this game was over. ... I coached at Army for two years as an assistant, and I know what they have to offer. It is a wonderful athletic setup at West Point. But I like LSU, too. Everyone at LSU has been wonderful to me. I can't say what my decision will be until I've had several days to think about it. I feel like a man on one of those poster in the post office. It's nice to be wanted, but this thing could change my whole life.
    Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported from West Point that the super­intendent hopes to make an announcement this week. Other than that, there can be no comment.
    Dietzel recalled: I was thrilled that we had won the game, especially since I knew it would be my last time to coach the Tigers. I would leave Baton Rouge with a heavy heart knowing how much I would miss LSU, my play­ers, and the many wonderful friends Anne and I had made.

To be continued ...

References: The Fighting Tigers II: LSU Football, 1893-1980, Peter Finney (1980)
Call Me Coach: A Life in College Football, Paul Dietzel (2008)

Paul Dietzel and Jim Corbett celebrate Orange Bowl bid.

Earl Blaik

Dale Hall

Murray Warmath

Vince Lombardi

George Terry

F. Edward Hebert

LSU Dorm Sign

General Troy Middleton

1962 Orange Bowl action

Dietzel carried off by Dennis Gaubatz (53) and Jimmy Field (14) after Orange Bowl victory

Dietzel and McClendon - Episode 1 Part 2

Paul Dietzel and Charlie McClendon

Jim Corbett

Blanton Collier

Bill Keefe as depicted in Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame

Bernie Shively

Biff Jones

George Terry

Bill Shalosky

Larry Jones, who became head coach at FSU 1971-72

Donnie Daye

Dietzel on Howard Cosell's show shortly after becoming West Point coach; Cosell's first question was whether he would have any black players on his squad.

Dietzel at West Point
  • Tuesday, January 2, 1962
    The Tigers remained in Miami another day for additional Orange Bowl activities, including the fishing rodeo competition between the two squads.
    Joseph Cahill, Sports Information Director at West Point, said that, while seven men were in the running for head coach position, Dietzel is definitely the top candidate. Dietzel has expressed interest in the job, but there are still some details to work out. Because of the holiday, we haven't made any definite decisions yet and, of course, Dietzel has been tied up at the Orange Bowl. I don't believe we'll have any announcement to make until later this week.
    That morning, John Doles, chairman of the LSU Board of Supervisors, said he was awaiting a phone call from Jim Corbett from Miami before deciding to call an emergency meeting of the LSU Board. Doles pointed out that board rules required five days notice of a meeting.
    One anonymous board member reported that a majority of the board told him they favored holding Dietzel to the remaining four years of his five-year contract. He also said a majority favored a "reasonable raise" for Dietzel, a move the board contemplated before the offer from Army.
    One board member who permitted use of his name, Tom Dutton, from New Orleans, captain of the LSU football and track teams in 1919, made it clear he was speaking only for himself. I hope the rumors about Paul Dietzel are unfounded. I believe he would be making a very serious mistake. He came to us as an untried coach and, at the time he accepted the position at LSU, he made the statements that he did not intend using the coaching position at LSU as a springboard for any other job. He lately has been quoted as saying he would never leave LSU. I have been informed by members of the committee who selected him as head football coach in 1955 that, in answer to direct questions, he said he would never break a contract or ask for release from a contract. The image of Mr. Dietzel is as a paragon of virtue, and I believe this image would be terribly darkened if he did anything at this time that is not entirely proper. I am irrevocably opposed to releasing him from his contract largely because of his commitments he has made to the recruits and their parents, the freshmen, and the people of this state. I hope he will not destroy the fine record he has made so far, and thus tear down something that is much more precious than money or prestige. I cannot conceive of Paul Dietzel doing this. I discount the statement about him being unhappy if we do not release him. I believe he would continue to try to turn out a winning team with the marvelous material he has, and he will do this for his own record and for prestige, if for no other reason. There certainly would be no prejudice on the part of the board if Mr. Dietzel decides to stay. I'm sure that, as I see it, the board is very much interested in having him stay.
    Another board member also took a hard line. I feel that somewhere some university should take a stand and prove to coaches that a contract is a legal document and not a one-way affair. This is not good for the morale and character they are trying to build in young men they are coaching. Continually universities accept the fact that if a coach wants to walk out on a contract, he just walks out, but if they want to fire him they have to pay him the full value of his remaining years on his contract. I believe they are just as morally and legally bound to a contract as a university.
    Percy Robert of Baton Rouge, vice chairman of the board, said, I sincerely hope Paul Dietzel will remain with us at LSU. He has been highly successful and highly regarded and in my estimation he has a continued brilliant future ahead of him here.
    "One source close to the LSU picture" said that, in the past, when Dietzel was approached by other schools, he made a quick denial and repeated his contention that he would not leave LSU for another school. But he made no such comment amid the West Point rumors.
    Meanwhile, Louisianans bombarded Dietzel with telegrams. Samples: Don't be a fool, don't become an Army mule. And I would rather be a Tiger, tried and true, than an Army brat, would you?
  • Wednesday, January 3
    Bud Montet wrote in his column in the Morning Advocate:
    Tommy Devine, Miami News sports editor, is one of those puzzled about the rumored departure of Coach Dietzel. Said Devine after the game, "Why would Dietzel consider leaving LSU to become head coach at Army?" He speculated that Army couldn't give the Tiger mentor more than a base salary of $20,000, just a bit higher than he's receiving now. He pointed out that there'll always be recruiting problems at Army while at LSU Dietzel has his way in the state.
    There has been speculation that LSU might go to court to stop Dietzel from jumping his contract. That's about as far-fetched as can be. We know the LSU group will not resort to legal action. If they do we think it would be a grave mistake. No top-flight university would want to hold a coach that didn't want to stay and coach.
    There's been no official meeting of the LSU board members nor has athletic director Jim Corbett released Dietzel as rumored in some quarters. The members of the board here have discussed the situation. But as Corbett put it, "Dietzel has not come to us concerning anything about the Army situation."

    An Associated Press article out of West Point quoted Corbett as saying, I expect to be talking to Paul today or tomorrow. If he wants out of his contract, certainly he would mention it to me.
    The Baton Rouge State Times Advocate polled a numbe of people in various occupations and found out the following:
    First, that everybody IS talking about Paul Dietzel ... The discussions over Dietzel can go on for hours ... But these points were gleaned:
    Most of the interviewees believe that Dietzel will leave.
    Most would like to see the LSU mentor stay.
    And a majority of them think that Dietzel should abide by his contract and stay on to lead the Bengals in spite of reported attractive offers from the U.S. Military Academy.
    One Baton Rougean even invoked international politics in his response. How can we expect Russia to live up to agreements if our people don't live up to their contract, particularly those who are thought by the general public to be men of outstanding character? Dietzel has a contract and should live up to it. Period. The head of West Point who offered the job to Dietzel seems to have too little respect for Dietzel's contract, knowing he has four more years to go on the contract. As an officer in the federal government, it seems he, of all people, should have respect for a contract ...
    A governmental executive said: "I hate to see Dietzel go, but I think I might go too. ... I think it's a matter of prestige. He will meet and mingle with some of the top people of the nation there. He will be a big fish in a big pond."
    A lawyer quipped: "I think LSU should send its team on loan to the Navy next year for the Army-Navy game if Dietzel leaves."

    Meanwhile, a situation at another SEC school impinged on LSU. An Associated Press article began like this:
    MIAMI - Coach Charles McClendon, the former star lineman of the University of Kentucky who, for the past several years, has been considered a top candidate for the Kentucky football head coaching job in the event of the departure of Coach Blanton Collier, today finds himself in the peculiar position of being the prime candidate for two of the finest coaching jobs in the Southeastern Conference.
    McClendon, the defensive line coach of the top-ranking LSU Tigers, is considered one of the prime candidates for the LSU job in case Coach Paul Dietzel goes to West Point as has been rumored for the past five days.
    And McClendon is considered the fair-headed boy to replace Collier at Kentucky as he is one of the most popular graduates of that school in the coaching profession today.
    McClendon ... has nothing to say about the job except "some guy from the AP called me and said Coach Collier has now been ousted from the Kentucky job. Other than that I know nothing of the situation at Lexington."
    McClendon later recalled the rumors about Dietzel's departure. I was the last to know after everybody else had heard it. It was public knowledge by the time of the bowl game. Paul didn't realize the people here were going to be mad and upset. I did realize this. Paul was going to recommend me for the job; to me, that would be the kiss of death. You know, you don't leave people upset and then make a recommendation. So, in all fairness to my family, I had to say that I didn't want the recommendation. Period. Paul meant nothing but the best for me, but I knew I couldn't accept his recommendation.
    The players had carried Mac off the field after the Orange Bowl victory. I think this was their way of saying I had their recommendation, and that's the best.
    A scant crowd of 200 fans turned out at Ryan Airport to welcome the Orange Bowl champions. Dietzel's only comment about the Army job was, I don't have anything to say, I really don't. When asked whether he would fly to West Point the next day, he replied, That's what I read in the newspapers.
    Jim Corbett admitted he talked the situation over with Dietzel and still hoped he would stay. I will do everything within reason to keep Dietzel at LSU. Jim confirmed that the Army AD had called him for permission to talk with Dietzel.
    Army athletic officials had been subjected to nation wide criticism for dealing with a coach with four years left on his contract.
    Along those lines, Board of Supervisor member Tom Dutton sent a telegram to the Army AD with a copy to Army Secretary Elvis Stahr. Taking notice of your press releases this is to advise you that the next regular or special meeting of the Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, it is my intention to introduce a resolution to ask that immediate legal action be taken to enforce the commutative contract entered into between the Board of Supervisors and Paul Dietzel.
    Board vice chairman Percy Robert added, I'm sure the board would seriously consider further remunerations to keep Dietzel at LSU.
    One board member who asked that his name not be used said, In my opinion, Coach Dietzel has to take the Army job now. He's burned his bridges behind him.
  • Thursday, January 4
    Dan Hardesty wrote in his collumn in the State Times Advocate: Rumor No. 2857X465 - Somebody says LSU has contacted Minnesota Coach Murray Warmath in connection with the Tiger coaching job in the event Paul Dietzel leaves as expected. When asked about this, Athletic Director Jim Corbett hadn't even heard the rumor. He shrugged it off as ridiculous, but just to make it official, he did say positively that it is not true. The thing which few people seem to ... realize is that if Dietzel does leave, LSU absolutely cannot go out and try to hire any "name" coach or any other kind of head coach who is under contract to any school in the country! If they did, they would be guilty of the same thing they're blasting Army for doing in Dietzel's case. In this situation, it would appear almost certain that if Dietzel does leave, his successor must come either from the ranks of the present LSU assistants ... or from the list of unemployed head coaches or the ranks of assistant coaches at some other school.
    Bill Keefe of the Times-Picayune offered a remedy for situations like the one LSU was facing. If the NCAA can enforce rigid regulations barring a college football player from shifting from one school to another, after signing to play for the original school, why can't the parent organization of collegiate football adopt resolutions barring coaching contracts of more than a year or, if a coach insists on a three or five-year contract, pin him down to fulfillment of said contract. "You insist on a five-year contract?" the coach could be asked. "O.K. then sign it, but if you break it you will not be eligible to accept a coaching job elsewhere."
    Meanwhile, in Lexington KY, a committee worked secretly to select a successor for Blanton Collier. Speed appeared essential because recruiting of high school seniors is in full swing. Collier lured in 10 schoolboy prospects before the athletics board said it was buying the three years remaining on his contract. Athletic director Bernie Shively said the secret committee probably would meet every day until a coach is selected. ... Meantime speculation brought up numerous names as possible successor. These included Ermal Allen and John North of the Kentucky staff; Jerry Claiborne, head coach at Virginia Tech; Charley Bradshaw, Alabama assistant, and Charlie McClendon, Louisiana State aide.
    That night, Dietzel took to the air over WBRZ to make what was immediately labeled "the longest no comment in the history of sport." He failed to clarify his position in respect to the Army position during a length discussion in which he traced the history of his coming to Baton Rouge. He said that former LSU coach Lawrence "Biff" Jones had recommended him for the post. Dietzel in effect accused some board members of hypocrisy by pointing out that, when he was hired by LSU in 1955, he still had a year to go on his contract at West Point. Some of the Board members who hired me knew about that at the time and some of those members are still on the board. He said Coach Blaik told him he wouldn't stand in his way if he landed the LSU job. Paul said any decision he makes would be made in the interest of myself and my family. He also termed any possible decision as one that has not been jumped at. I have thought it over many hours and many days ... Dietzel also got in a shot at the press. They have said that everyone but me was responsible for the success of the Tigers, but I believe I had a little to do with it.
    Following the telecast, Dietzel told the Morning Advocate, I don't think it's fair to others involved for me to say anything else.
  • Friday, January 5
    The Board of Supervisors met as a committee of the whole behind closed doors for 3 1/2 hours and at 1:35 PM released Paul Dietzel from his contract obligations and authorized AD Jim Corbett to negotiate for a new coach. The board first voted down, 8 to 5, a motion by Tom Dutton that Dietzel's request for his contract release be denied. Joe LaSage Jr. of Shreveport immediately made a motion that the board honor Dietzel's request. Dutton then asked the board to follow a long established precedent by adopting LeSage's motion unanimously. Percy Roberts then addressed Corbett: With you at the helm of our athletic program, we could not be in finer hands. We want to go on record as commending you most highly for the services you have rendered this university. Those sentiments were put in the form of a motion and adopted by acclamation.
    Dietzel, called "the master of the double-talk" by Montet, said, In my heart, I think it was the only decision I could make. You can't be at West Point and not have something rub off on you. Deep in my heart, I have always wanted to be head coach at West Point. Army has a special place on the American scene as far as I am concerned. He insisted that money had nothing to do with his decision. I will make a financial sacrifice to go to West Point. I will go at the salary that is traditional at West Point. Asked about the players who had just signed athletic scholarships at LSU in December, he replied that they signed because of LSU, not me. Dietzel defended his decision to leave. If LSU were down, I might feel differently. But the situation being what it is, I don't feel I'm deserting the ship. He revealed that he had been contacted when legendary Army coach Earl Blaik retired in 1958. A member of the West Point screening committee had contacted me, and I asked him to remove my name from consideration. Frankly, at the time, I felt I hadn't fulfilled my obligation to LSU. Now I think LSU is on a sound foundation, and any intelligent person will do a good job.
    That last remark by Dietzel would come back to haunt his successor. McClendon: I'm sure Paul didn't mean it like it sounded. But it didn't read good, I'll put it that way.
    Reminded of his pledges of stability, he explained, From time to time, I have told LSU people that I would never leave LSU, and when I said that, I was sincere. When Dale Hall filled the Army job in 1958, I never thought the job would open again, and I put it out of my mind. I thought I'd just coach at LSU until I was ready to retire. It was during this period that I made those statements. Now that it's open again, I feel it is a tremendous challenge - one I can't refuse. West Point has long had a special place in my heart. Both of our children were born at West Point. My decision was based on what I feel is best for me personally and my family. He also admitted another factor that influenced his decision. Honestly, I worry about our national defense every day. These Cadets are dedicated people. I've always hoped my son would go to West Point. Recruiting at West Point is a different kind of thing. You're not just hunting for football players. You're hunting for boys who want to serve their country. I believe there are enough around who want to be champions and at the same time serve their country. He admitted leaving LSU with great reluctance because I have many deep roots in Louisiana. Regarding the LSU football team, I told the boys Friday that I was the loser, not they. I'm losing the opportunity to coach one of the finest teams in the country. He smiled and added: I'm thrilled at the prospect of joining "The Long Gray Line" ... there's no way to avoid it or not to say - I love West Point.
    Paul confirmed that the four assistants who had been mentioned for weeks as following him to West Point would indeed do so: backfield coaches George Terry and Charlie Pevey and line assistants Bill Shalosky and Larry Jones. Dietzel brought all but Terry to LSU.
    The departing coach also said he recommended McClendon, his top assistant, to replace him. I think he will be head coach at either LSU or Kentucky. ... I have a spot for him at Army, but I don't think he can afford to go.
    In Mobile for the Senior Bowl, the TP's Bill Keefe reported a conversation with "a very famous coach who asked that his name not be brought into the controversy." Maybe LSU will be able to coax some big time coach from a job just as they coaxed Dietzel for the Army coaching staff. I know many a coach who would jump at the chance of pitching his tent at LSU, with the stream of fine talent that is funneled into that school. Unless LSU wants to take a chance on a young inexperienced coach, it will have to be lucky enough to have a big time coach's contract run out or will have to entice a man away from a job. The real sufferers will be the boys who signed with LSU assured that Dietzel will remain there. Other than that, I can't see it's a deal that calls for an extra session of Congress.
    Senior FB Donnie Daye said of his coach's decision: I have all the respect for him in the world. It is his decision, and whatever he wants to do is best. A younger Tiger added, I think that's the way all of the boys will look at it when they think about it awhile.
    Corbett laid out his plan for finding a new head coach and replacing the departing assistants, which he said would take some time. He would notify men he was interested in and ask them to come in for interviews, keeping the number to a minimum.
    One of the possible candidates, Charlie McClendon spent the day in Lexington with Kentucky's screening committee. Charlie was the first candidate to be acknowledged by the committee as being interviewed. University President Frank Dickey said the committee would make a report to the athletics board on Sunday.
    Kentucky offered McClendon their job. I told them to give me a day to think it over, Charlie recalled. At first, LSU gave me the impression that they were going to look around, but that I was on the list. I didn't have anything more definite than that at the time. ... I had several telephone conversations with the people there that weekend. On Sunday afternoon they had their Regents together, and I was to phone them and tell them my decision.
    The irony of Mac's situation was that Dietzel would have had the Kentucky job in 1954 when Bear Bryant left had not Blanton Collier, an assistant with the Cleveland Browns, changed his mind at the last minute. Dietzel had coached under Bryant in 1951-52 when Charlie was a graduate assistant. Their wives became great friends. If Paul had gotten the job at UK, he undoubtedly would have made Mac a full-time assistant on his staff. Instead, Mac went to LSU and invited his friend Dietzel to apply for the head coach job in Baton Rouge when Gaynell Tinsley departed after the 1954 season.
  • Saturday, January 6
    Dietzel left for New York that morning to complete arrangements with academy officials. He signed a contract at 11 PM after his flight was delayed in Atlanta and then grounded in Washington because of weather. Paul made the last leg of the journey by train.
    Bud Montet in the Morning Advocate: Now a big job has been laid upon the shoulders of Athletic Director Jim Corbett who has been instructed to secure and recommend a head mentor ... One thing that complicates the situation is that Charlie McClendon, Tiger line mentor, who will get consideration is up at Lexington, Ky. talking to the Wildcat officials. McClendon is highly popular at Lexington and a sports reporter we talked to last night informed us that there was a lot of sentiment for McClendon to take the job. Several days ago McClendon told us that if he had the choice he would prefer LSU. However the Kentucky people might offer him the job tomorrow and none could blame McClendon if he took the bird in hand over those in the bush.
    "Sources close to the university" revealed that McClendon was grievously hurt by not even being consulted when Dietzel made his move.
    McClendon telephoned Corbett from Lexington to apprise him of his situation with UK. Charlie, come on back to Baton Rouge and we'll talk, said the AD.
  • Sunday, January 7
    Keefe thought Dietzel had made a big mistake. Regardless of anything that can be said about Paul Dietzel - whether he is wrong or right in leaving LSU - the fact remains that in leaving the lucrative, highly promising job where he could count continued success a sure thing, he is showing rare courage.
    He should know as well as anyone else that the difficulties in recruiting football players for West Point is vastly different from recruitment at LSU. Not to say that scholastic standards at LSU are low; but at West Point they are very high - just as high as any university.
    Accepting such a challenge may be a mistake. He'll hardly find West Point Cadets as easy to handle as young civilians on scholarship. ... Not being a West Pointer, he most likely will run into the social barrier that old line Pointers refuse to slacken. ... Then, for a man who takes so much pride in his success as a football coach, it will sorry him if he suffers a lack of football talent, or if he finds that some of the boys he recruits and gets appointments for cannot make the West Point grade. He has taken a big leap and, I repeat, regardless of how much glory and glamor he attaches to going to West Point, I think he is making a mistake. So, too, do a lot of veteran coaches with whom I have discussed the matter.
    McClendon met Corbett and incoming president Dr. John Hunter. I told them, "Fellows, I wanted you to know. I've decided to go to Kentucky." Jim said, "Wait a minute," and he started telephoning several Board of Supervisors members. It was kind of funny; we were talking in a bedroom, and they maneuvered me behind the bed and wouldn't let me get to a phone where I could call Kentucky. When Jim had finished talking to some Board members, he told me the LSU job was mine. I called Kentucky and told them I was going to stay at LSU.
    Corbett recalled talking all day Sunday in his home. We discussed all aspects of the job. It was a frank, free-wheeling conversation in which Charlie and I exchanged views. By sundown, Corbett decided that the 38-year-old native of Lewisville AK who had contributed heavily to LSU's football success deserved a shot.
    Years later, McClendon still reflected in amazement on the first week of 1962. The only two jobs I had wanted, LSU and my alma mater, both came open and were offered to me the same day. It was unreal.
  • Monday, January 8
    Corbett called a surprise press conference for 1 PM to announce the signing of 38-year-old Charles Youmans McClendon as LSU's 22nd head coach. His four-year contract called for an annual salary of $18,000 - exactly what Dietzel would have made and 50% more than Mac was making as an assistant.
    Jim indicated that he had reviewed the list of available coaches and decided that the man he wanted was right there on the campus. As a result, he had not contacted anyone else about the vacancy.
    Charlie started his remarks like this: No use expressing how happy I am to have the opportunity to coach LSU. The way I feel, the music has started, so my job is to keep in step. I was in on the organization of the three-team setup, and it's been good to LSU. So there's no sense in changing it. The White Team, the Go Team, and the Chinese Bandits are part of LSU football. Our players believe in it, and so do I. I was a part of that three-team system and I like it. McClendon said he told the squad at a noon meeting that he intended to continue the three-team system.
    Corbett added that the team gave their new coach a rousing ovation and that each player shook hands with their new coach as they filed out of the room. Jim said the players were very happy with the selection of Coach McClendon.
    Jim continued: I feel that the appointment of Coach McClendon is one of confidence in a man who played a major role in the success we have enjoyed the past few years. He knows our personnel and is well known throughout the state. For the past nine years, he has been one of our finest coaches, and I feel sure that under his guidance our football program will continue and progress. The AD explained that the new head man would have to await a February 10 meeting of the Board of Supervisors for final approval.
    McClendon would have to replace the four assistants who went to Army with Dietzel plus himself. I hope to get the very best assistants that are available. And we're not to be in a hurry about it. We have time and will take it to get the very best we can.
    As it turned out, Pevey had a change of heart at the NCAA meeting the following week and decided to stay at LSU as Mac's first assistant.
    Corbett told the Advocate that Texas coach Darrell Royal called him. Jim, you have hired a "coaches' coach." Congratulations!
    Dan Hardesty of the afternoon States Times wrote approvingly of the selection. Since the day he came to LSU in 1953, McClendon has been one of the most popular members of the Tiger staff with players, university officials, and the grid fans of Louisiana. And along with his popularity has been a solid and widespread recognition of his knowledge of football and his ability to coach it.
    For the past three days, McClendon certainly must have felt like the luckiest young man on the face of the football world. He has turned down several opportunities to move on to head coaching jobs in the past few years because they weren't quite what he wanted and in some cases probably weren't even as desirable as the job he had as chief assistant at LSU. ...
    Kentucky offered McClendon a rather fabulous contract for a man who never has been a head coach. It was the kind of thing a school might offer the likes of Paul Bryant or Bud Wilkinson or Darrell Royal to try to entice them away from their big jobs. The Wildcats wanted McClendon - but so did Jim Corbett. Tigers everywhere are happy that Mac made the decision to stick here.
    McClendon, years later: People don't believe me, but honest, when I got the job, I went to the LSU record book and looked up the coach with the worst record at LSU. My first ambition was that I wasn't going to be the worst coach of the Tigers. As I moved ahead of each one, I thought, well, that's one more I've passed. But it never occurred to me back there that I would ever beat Bernie Moore's victory total at LSU. It never entered my mind.
  • References: The Louisiana Tigers: LSU Football, Dan Hardesty (1975)
    Eye of the Tiger: A Hundred Years of LSU Football, Marty Mule (1993)
    Tales from the LSU Tigers Sideline, Lee Feinswog (2013)

    New Army coach meets military brass: (L-R) Generals William Westmoreland, Omar Bradley,
    and former President and General Dwight Eisenhower
    Record-Setting Performances: Incredible Five Quarters

    Charlie McClendon

    Charles Alexander

    Steve Ensminger

    David Woodley

    Carlos Carson

    Kelly Simmons

    Jerry Murphree

    Willie Gunnels




    Willie Teal
    The worst thing that happened to the Rice Owls as they prepared to play in Baton Rouge in their third game of the 1977 season actually occurred the week before.
    • Charlie McClendon's Tigers began the season with a disappointing perfor­mance at Indiana.
    • LSU seemed to have the game well in hand, leading 21-10 heading into Q4. But just as they were ready to put the game away at the Hoosier 8, junior TB Charles Alexander fumbled. The Hoosiers drove 88y to cut the lead to four.
    • As time ticked away, the home team put together a 70y march in the last minutes to pull out a 24-21 win and deny the Tigers their first out-of-state win since November 1973.
    • The Big Ten team battered the young Tiger D for 282y rushing and 194y passing.
    • LSU gained 280y on the ground, but two sophomore QBs, Steve Ensminger and David Woodley, netted but 40y through the air.

    As always happens, the LSU coaching staff chewed the players' butts all week long.

    • The result was a bunch of Tigers hungry for some Owl meat in the home opener Saturday night, September 24, 1977, before 67,844.
    • LSU started fast, continued rapidly, and ended with alacrity.

    Tiger Stadium 1976

    Sophomore WR Carlos Carson, who hadn't caught a pass as a freshman, had the dream game of a lifetime.

    • Q1: Carson snagged two touchdown passes from Ensminger, the first from the 22 to end an 80y drive with the opening kickoff. The other traveled 29y to culmi­nate a 78y march. LSU 14 Rice 0
    • Q2: The Ensminger-Carson connection struck again for two more six point­ers. The first covered 63y, the second, 20. The four touchdown passes thrown and caught put both the QB and the WR in the LSU record book. LSU 28 Rice 0
    • Q3: The roof caved in on the Owls as the Tigers put 35 on the board in 15 minutes.
      FB Kelly Simmons joined the scoring parade with a 3y run and another touchdown jaunt from the 19.
      Then Woodley took a turn throwing to Carson, hitting the speedy WR for a 67y touchdown.
      Backup TB Jerry Murphree, a sophomore, romped in from the 3.
      Then Woodley did the honors himself on an option play from the 8.
      LSU 63 Rice 0, one point better than the Tigers' three triumphs over Tulane (1958, 1961, and 1965).
    • Q4: Murphree punched over from the 1 for his second touchdown of the evening.
      Sophomore DE Willie Gunnels topped off the scoring with a 12y fumble return.
      LSU 77 Rice 0

    The game produced these new records.


    • Total offense: 746y - still stands today
    • Rushing: 502y - didn't last the season as the Tigers pounded Oregon for 503
    • Points in a quarter: 35 - tied with Tulane 1948 Q4 - still stands
    • touchdown passes: 5 - tied with the 1946 Tulane game (broken in 1989 against Ohio - 7)
    • Touchdowns: 11 - still stands
    • PATs: 11 - still stands


    • touchdown passes: Steve Ensminger - 4; has been tied ten times
    • Yards gained receiving: Carlos Carson - 201; first broken by Eric Martin in 1983
    • Yards per catch: Carson - 40.2 (5 for 201); tied by Devery Henderson against Kentucky in 2002
    • Most points: Carson - 30; tied by Kevin Faulk vs Kentucky 1997
    • Most touchdowns: Carson - 5; tied by Faulk

    Two oddities

    • The 77 points didn't set a record although broadcasters referred to it as the most "in the modern era." LSU scored 93 against Southwestern Louisiana in 1936.
    • LSU's outstanding TB Alexander didn't tally a single point although "Alex­ander the Great" gained 155y on 16 carries.

    The Tigers continued their point barrage during the first half the following week. The visiting Florida Gators, who had beaten LSU three straight, provided the first SEC opposition of the young season.

    • For the third game in a row, the Bengals marched to a touchdown the first time they got their hands on the football.
    • Alexander finished the 80y, 15-play drive by taking a pitchout around LE from the 6.
    • Lightning struck the Gators on the ensuing kickoff, when Willie Teal belted Tony Green and recovered the fumble at the 10. Three plays later, Ensming­er skirted LE from the 2 to score standing up.
    • Before the period ended, a short punt put the Tigers in business at their 48. Ensminger did the honors again, this time from the 3.
    • In five quarters, LSU had scored 98 points.
    • Carson grabbed another touchdown pass in Q2, Woodley on the other end from the 15. The PAT was blocked.
    • The onslaught continued when the Tigers tackled RB Willie Wilder in the EZ to increase the lead to 29-0.
    • LSU coasted from there to a 36-14 victory.

    The '77 Tigers finished 8-3 to gain the school's first bowl bid in four seasons.

    The First Bluegrass Miracle
    Marcus Randall's Hail Mary pass to Devery Henderson on the last play of the 2002 LSU-Kentucky is one of the most famous plays in college football history. But LSU also pulled out a squeaker at Commonwealth Stadium the year before to turn their 2001 season around.

    Nick Saban

    Kelly Washington

    Rex Grossman

    Guy Morriss

    Shane Boyd

    Rohan Davey

    Josh Reed

    Jerel Myers

    LaBrandon Toefield

    Joe Domingeaux

    John Corbello

    Kendrick Allen

    Bradie James

    Damien James

    Michael Clayton

    Dominick Davis

    Jared Lorenzen

    Aaron Boone

    Trev Faulk

    Dennis Johnson

    Derek Abney

    Derek Tatum
    Nick Saban's second LSU team started poorly despite being the consensus choice to win the SEC West.
    • After romps over Tulane and Utah State by a combined 48 points, the Tigers stumbled twice in SEC games after the Auburn game was postponed to the first Saturday of December because of 9/11.
    • #7 Tennessee knocked off the Tigers 26-18 before over 108,000 in Neyland Stadium. Then Steve Spurrier brought his #2 Gators to Tiger Stadium and chomped LSU 44-15.
    • Most alarmingly, the defense, supposedly Saban's strong suit, was gashed.
      Tennessee: Rushing 139y, Passing 309y, Total Offense: 77 plays, 448y
      Florida: Rushing 128y, Passing 504y, Total Offense: 67 plays, 632y
    • In back-to-back weeks, LSU allowed the most receiving yards in Tennessee history (256 by Kelley Washington) and the most passing yards by a QB in Florida history (464 by Rex Grossman).

    Analyzing his team's problems, Saban sounded themes that have become so familiar 16 years later.

    • I have preached to this team that sometimes you focus on the outcome so much that you forget about the process and how important it is to do things correctly. I wanted to make sure that it didn't happen to our team, and so far it looks like it has.
    • I like the fact that we learned things about how a really good football team, probably one of the best couple of football teams in the country, takes care of business, dominates the game from start to finish and never looks back. That's what we aspire to be, that's what we want our football team to be, and that's what we're working on trying to accomplish and to build.
    • Being more specific, Nick added: As a team on defense, we haven't done a good job of pressuring the QB with four guys. We haven't done a good job with coverage discipline at times. We've had to change some personnel on the back end because of injuries and so forth, and some of the inexperience is showing up at times.

    Kentucky looked like just the tonic to cure the Tiger ills.

    • The Mildcats had won only one of their first five games, and that was over Ball State. The losses came at the hands of Louisville, Florida, Ole Miss, and South Carolina, the first three in Commonwealth Stadium.
    • To make matters worst, Guy Morriss's first UK squad had been bitten hard by the injury bug. Five starters were expected to miss the LSU game - two offensive linemen, RB Chad Scott, and a S and DT.
    • After seeing how UF and UT riddled the LSU secondary, Morriss sounded an ominous note when he declared that he planned to open up the passing game against the Tigers.
    • None of those negative facts dissuaded Saban from spouting coachspeak with a straight face. I think Kentucky is the most dangerous team we've played to this point in the season. (Had he forgotten Tennessee and Florida?) Referring to the fact that the Tigers had lost 12 of their last 13 conference games away from Tiger Stadium, Nick continued. Playing on the road is a real challenge for us. They have an outstanding athlete playing QB (Shane Boyd) who can make a lot of plays. I'm sure they are looking to bounce back and play well. I think it's going to be a heck of a football game.
    • Nick had injury problems of his own. A sack forced QB Rohan Davey to leave the Florida game with a bruised patella tendon. Rohan had practiced sparingly during the week. If he couldn't go, 23-year-old redshirt freshman Matt Mauck would get the call.
      A star baseball and football player at Jasper, Indiana, Mauck was recruited by Saban when Nick coached at Michigan State . But Matt decided to pursue a baseball career. Three years in the minors convinced him to return to football.
    • Starting CB Robert Davis had been lost for the season with a knee injury in the Florida game, and reserve RB Devery Henderson would miss the game in Lexington with a bad ankle.
    • It would turn out that Saban's prediction about "a heck of a football game," which sounded preposterous at the time, was right on target.

    Quarter 1

    • With a drizzle coming down on the homecoming crowd of 52,471, the Wildcats made one first down with the opening kickoff when 6'2" 230 lb Shane Boyd broke out of the pocket for 15y. But a short run, an incompletion, and a futile screen pass forced a punt.
    • Rohan Davey took the field with the offense.
      Saban made the decision to start Rohan after pregame workouts. I knew I was going to play, Davey said after the game. The only way I won't play in a game is if both my legs are broken. If one is broken, I can always line up in the shotgun and throw the ball away before they get to me.
      A 28y connection to Josh Reed on 3rd-and-10 gave LSU a first down at their 49. On the next 3rd-and-10, Davey came through again, hitting SE Jerel Myers for 27y to the UK 35. With the defense on its heels, Davey handed to LaBrandon Toefield who roared down the right sideline behind an excellent block from TE Joe Domingueaux to the EZ. John Corbello converted. LSU 7 Kentucky 0 (9:24)
      The touchdown run vaulted Toefield over the 1000y mark for his LSU career.
    • Seeing Florida's success throwing to their TE down the middle of the LSU defense the week before, Kentucky did the same, Boyd hitting 6'6" 265lb Derek Smith for 30y to the UK 49. Two plays later, the other TE was wide open in the center of the field but the ball went through his hands. After Boyd was sacked, UK punted into the EZ.
    • In a carbon copy of the previous possession, Davey hit Reed again on 3rd down. Josh gained most of the 30y with hard running after the catch. A 5y incidental facemask penalty put the ball on the UK 40. After an incompletion, Toefield picked up 9, then 1 to move the chains. Copying what previous opponents had done to take advantage of the small inside LBs in the Blue and White defense, the Tigers ran the same two plays up the middle for the same gains and another first down. But on 3rd-and-2, Toefield took a toss and did well to get back to the line of scrimmage. So Corbello took the field and, after a delay of game, booted a 26y FG with the wind. LSU 10 Kentucky 0 (1:13)
    • The UK possession started badly with a kickoff return to the 16 and an intentional grounding that put the ball on the 3. After a dropped pass in the flat, Boyd tried to pass from the EZ again, but LDE Kendrick Allen jumped up and batted it down. But a holding penalty on the Wildcats gave the Tigers a safety. LSU 12 Kentucky 0 (0:48)
    • The Tigers started their next possession on their 45 after Reed returned the free kick 16y. Davey immediately hit Clayton running across the field to the UK 34.
      END OF Q1: LSU 12 KENTUCKY 0
      The Tigers gained 180y in the first 15 minutes to Kentucky's 54.

    Quarter 2

    • The Wildcat defense finally showed some life, sacking Davey at the LSU 48. After a screen to Toefield moved the ball back to the UK 36, Corbello tried a 54y FG into the wind that was long enough but just wide left.
      Working exclusively from the shotgun with spread receivers, Boyd hit Dougie Allen on 3rd-and-2 for 20y to the LSU 35. After three plays gained 5, the Wildcats went for it on 4th. The UK line picked up the blitzers and Boyd found H-back Chase Harp over the middle for a 1st down at the 22. Boyd hit a WR, Aaron Boone, who pushed through six Tigers before the James boys, LB Bradie and CB Damien, pushed him out at the 8. But with less space to spread the Tigers vertically, the Wildcats could gain only 2 more and settled for Seth Hansen's 23y FG. LSU 12 Kentucky 3 (10:42)
    • On the second play from scrimmage, Davey threw a simple swing pass to former RB Reed who broke loose for a 49y gain all the way to the UK 13. After two Toefield runs gained 3, Reed went across the middle and cleared space for WR Michael Clayton to follow him and catch the wet ball on the goal line and fall into the EZ to complete the 70y five-play drive. LSU 19 Kentucky 3 (8:00)
    • The home team finally put together a sustained drive. Rolling out and throwing quickly to avoid the rush, Boyd passed the Wildcats to four first downs to the LSU 26. Then he ran a QB draw to the 13. Darn if he didn't run the same play again into the EZ. LSU 19 Kentucky 10 (3:23)
    • Starting from the 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds, the Tigers got on the board again before halftime. Davey started with back-to-back completions to Reed 11 and Myers, who made an outstanding catch reaching across the sideline while keeping a foot inbounds at the 32. After a short run by Toefield and a 1y toss to TE Marcus Spears, Davey's string of seven straight completions ended. So Corbello tried a 46-yarder against the win that just sneaked in. LSU 22 Kentucky 10 (1:16)
      The catch was Spears' first. He was switched to DE the following year, a move that propelled him to an eight-year NFL career
      On UK's second play, Damien James stepped in front of a pass at the 37 to give LSU another chance to get points in the final 1:05. But Davey dashed those hopes by throwing into coverage and into the hands of DB Patrick Wiggins at the 14.
      The pick was Kentucky's first of the season.
      Davey: I threw an interception before half that was totally uncalled for.
      The Tigers used up all three of their timeouts to force a punt, but the kick sailed 50y to the Tiger 33. Two plays later the half ended.
      END OF Q2: LSU 22 KENTUCKY 10
      Davey ended the half 10-of-15 for 215y.

    Quarter 3

    • The Tigers started simple after Myers returned the kickoff to the 29. Toefield carried three straight times for 11y to move the chains. But when Davey went back to pass, he threw the ball right to Chris Gayton who returned it 14y to the LSU 31.
      Concerned that Kentucky was reading their offensive signals from the sidelines, LSU had backup QB Matt Mauck "shadow" signal the calls on the field alongside RB coach Mike Haywood.
    • Boyd hit a wide open Brad Pyatt for 8. Then Artose Pinner gained 1. Boyd tried a sneak but lost a yard. Eschewing the FG, the Cats went for it on 4th down, and Pinner gained 4 to the 19. But then it was Boyd's turn to throw an INT, Damien James snaring his second of the evening at the 1 and scampering to the 14.
      No one knew it at the time, but Boyd's second INT would change the whole complexion of the game.
    • Workhorse Toefield burst 18y. After a false start made it 1st-and-15, LaBrandon ripped off 11, then 2. On 3rd down, Toefield took a flare pass and gained a 1st down at the UK 49. But he had to come out of the game with blood on his elbow and knee. Davis, displaying his skills on both sides of the ball, took over at TB and gained 7 on two carries. Toefield returned but was stuffed on 3rd down. Donny Jones's punt sailed into the EZ.
    • Coach Morriss sent in southpaw Jared Lorenzen at QB with 6:00 left in the period.
      Selected Mr. Football in the state of Kentucky his senior year of high school at Fort Thomas, the 6'4" 308 lb Lorenzen redshirted his first year at Kentucky, then set six NCAAA freshman passing records in 2000 in Hal Mumme's spread offense. But after the coaching change, Jared lost his job to Boyd in the preseason despite showing up at a svelte 265.
      The sophomore wasted no time moving the Cats to the EZ. He started with a pass to Pyatt for 7. After a deep incompletion, he spread out five receivers and ran a QB draw to the 37 for a first down as the crowd came to life. Jared next lofted a fade to Tommy Cook for 32y over CB Erin Damond. Ignoring a flag that was dropped on the next snap, Lorenzen fired deep down the left sideline to slot receiver Boone for a touchdown. 80y in five plays. The penalty against LSU for offside was declined. LSU 22 Kentucky 17 (4:16)
      Lorenzen: I was able to watch and get comfortable with LSU's defensive tendencies. I knew when I got in the game that we could get some corner routes to work. Once LSU started to fly back, we hit some passes underneath. I felt comfortable sitting and watching because I could see what would work. Coming off the sidelines was the best-case scenario for me.
      MLB Trev Faulk on the flag: We stopped. You can't do that.
    • The fired-up Kentucky kicking team swarmed Myers at the 16. To make matters worse, an illegal block moved the ball to the 7. On 1st down, 6'7" 260 lb DE Dennis Johnson, UK's best d-lineman, roared through and dropped Toefield as soon as he got the handoff at the 2. After short completion to Clayton for 4, Davey flared to Toefield for 17y and a 1st down at the 22. Perhaps favoring the aching knee on his left (plant) leg, Rohan threw behind a wide open Robert Royal. He hit Corey Webster for 6 to the 28 but an illegal block moved the Tigers back to the 18.
      Webster would be another Tiger who would benefit from a change of position that enabled him to become an NFL CB.
      After Davis gained 2, Davey threw another poor pass, but Clayton reached down and behind him to grab the pigskin and get the first down at the 35. Dominick gained 7 on the last play of the period.

    Quarter 4

    • Pressured by Johnson on a rollout, Davey threw toward Royal, who knocked the ball away from the defender. On 3rd-and-3, Rohan went to old reliable Reed for a 1st down at the UK 49. Davis ran hard for 8 before Toefield lost 3. Then Davey completed his fourth straight 3rd-down pass, just before he got decked to Clayton for 10y to edge into FG range. On 1st down from the 34, Reed let a pass into the EZ slip away. Johnson sacked Davey but grabbed the face mask. However, LSU was guilty of holding. No play. A quick completion to Reed made it 3rd-and-3. But an illegal procedure flag cost the Tigers 5y. Davey couldn't find a receiver, and Johnson got to him for a loss of 4. As he had several times before, the LSU QB got up limping. Jones's punt over the goal in the air ended the 16-play, 58y drive that consumed 8:26.
      Lorenzen picked up where he left off on his first possession. He zipped one to Derek Smith for 23y to the 43. Jared ran a draw right through LSU's blitz on the next play to midfield. 1st down.
      Saban: They ran all those QB draws out of empty (formation). It was a tough combination to try and cover all the guys in empty and have a big guy like him and still have enough guys left in the box to stop them.
      Facing 3rd-and-6 from UK 47, Lorenzen rolled left and fired a pass to Derek Abney, who escaped the tackler and ran to the 23, where Damien James made the stop. The Tiger rush forced Lorenzen to throw a long one out of the EZ. On the next snap, Jared threw quickly to avoid the blitz. Abney took the ball over the middle and, picking up several blocks, ran to pay dirt to give the home team its first lead of the evening. Ahead by one, the Wildcats went for 2 and made it on a lob to Smith in the EZ. Another 80y drive but this one in six plays instead of eight. KENTUCKY 25 LSU 22 (8:28)
      Bradie James on Lorenzen: It seemed like they were more confident and more comfortable with him. The whole game changed. With Boyd in the game, if the coverage was good, he'd just take off and run. But Lorenzen would buy time. He would take off to buy time and then throw it, and he was hard to bring down. Several times I had him in my grasp, but he was still able to throw the ball.
    • Myers once again tried to return a kickoff from the goal line but was stopped at the 11. Needing to at least move out from the shadow of the goal, the Tigers instead went three-and-out, netting only 5y on two runs and an incompletion. Jones picked a good time to boom his best punt of the night - 68y to the 16.
    • With all the momentum of their side, the UK offense moved into LSU territory for the third straight time. With the Tigers on their heel from the passing barrage, Pinner ran three consecutive carries for 19, 4, and 5. On 3rd-and-1 at the 45, Lorenzen sneaked to the 47 to move the chains. He also ran the next two plays to set up a crucial 3rd-and-1 as LSU called its first timeout with 3:34 on the clock. Lorenzen faked a pass and, while being tackled by Bradie James at the UK 43, threw the ball away. LSU screamed for intentional grounding to no avail.
      LSU did not call a blitz on the 3rd down play. LB Bradie James: I knew he was going to run it. So I said to hell with it and ran in and was able to stop it. Yeah, it was kind of a blitz. I was really just ad-libbing.
      Morriss: We wanted to run on that play. But they shuffled their linebackers inside. It was a good call by us; we just didn't block it right.
      James, who originally lined up at regular depth behind the line: I was trying to hold my disguise long enough. Then I walked up to the line at the last minute, and they didn't account for me. It was wide open. I just thought he'd run it because he was sneaking on us a lot, and it was really costing us.
      Lorenzen throwing the ball away instead of taking the sack and forcing LSU to use a timeout ended up costing Kentucky the game.
      Morriss then made a decision that would be second-guessed after the game. He sent in the punting unit. Glenn Pakulak's kick sailed into the EZ.
    • LSU started at its 20 with 3:18 showing and two timeouts left. Its season was on the line. Lose to Kentucky and have no hope to winning the SEC West with three defeats and tougher foes waiting down the schedule. What followed was one of the great clutch drives in LSU history.
      --From the shotgun, Davey threw a screen to Toefield who got out of bounds after a 7y gain. --Johnson struck again, dropping Toefield for a loss of 1.
      --Davey connected with Clayton for 14 to the 40.
      --Going no-huddle against a tired defense, Davey rolled left and hit Myers who went out of bounds at the 47.
      --Another completion over the middle to Reed to the UK 44.
      --Reed again, pulling tacklers with him out of bounds at the 27.
      --Davey made a play-action fake but couldn't find a receiver and was sacked for a loss of 9 by Ellery Moore. Timeout LSU (1:08 left)
      --On 2nd-and-19, a shotgun pass to Clayton to the 18.
      --Davey to Clayton again to the 10. 1st down
      --Davey decided to run to the 1. Final timeout LSU (0:23)
      --Finding no one open, Davey wisely threw the ball out of the back of the EZ.
      --A whistle stopped the next play when RT Jason Baggett moved on the right side. 3rd-and-Goal from the 6. Did that help the Tigers by giving them more depth to run pass patterns?
      --With Kentucky concerned with Reed slanting in, Clayton (6'4") got inside CB Derek Tatum (6'), and Davey threaded a pass just out of the reach of LB Morris Lane for the touchdown!
      Clayton: I set him up to the outside. I took one step in and shielded him away.
      --Corbello's PAT capped the 80y, 12-play drive.
      LSU 29 KENTUCKY 25 (0:13)
      The touchdown catch was Clayton's fourth on the drive and ninth for the game for a total of 105y. He was living up to his billing by rating services as the nation's top prep receiver coming out of high school.
      Clayton on Davey: Rohan comes into the huddle with confidence. What he brings out there is the thought that we're going to do it. Basically, he said at the start of the drive that we've got to do it.
    • Corbello popped up the kick. The ball hit the ground at the 15 and was knocked out of bounds at the 11. LSU rushed only three and Lorenzen threw incomplete to Smith far down the field. Timeout UK with four ticks left.
      How far could strong-armed QB throw the ball? He slung a desperation heave far downfield but the ball fell incomplete.



    • Saban on starting Davey: Ro practiced on Wednesday, and I thought that no question he would be able to play. On Thursday, there was some soreness in the knee, and he didn't practice as effectively. If he didn't get better, it would be tough for him to compete. He was better Friday.
      On the ugly win: Sometimes you've got to win games this way, and I'm just proud as heck of our players. When you play on the road, a win's a win. Our players are really happy about it. It's a great step in a positive direction because we've had a tough month. It's been a long time since we won.
      On giving up 286y through the air: Mental errors in the secondary might keep creeping up forever. I can't wave a magic wand and get rid of them. If I could, I would. ... We've got the same guys. They've got to play better. We have to get them better.
    • Davey on the winning drive: I told them, "This is what 60 minutes is all about, and this is where we bcome a team, right." I told them, "This drive will dictate the rest of our season," and everybody got enthusiastic. Everybody got pumped.
      Rohan said he never hesitated on the final play to throw to Clayton. I never even thought twice about, "Well, he's a freshman, he might do this or might do that." He's a ballplayer, and that's what you do. You step up at times like that. He just made a grat play. He made great plays all night.
    • Reed: Rohan keeps us going. If anybody has a look of doubt on their face, he takes it personally and tries to change it. He has a heart the size of ... I can't even explain it.
    • Clayton on what would have happened if the Tigers hadn't pulled it out. We knew this game would make or break us. ... It would have been hard to get back on our feet. ... Coach said to make plays. That's what they recruited me for.
    • Davis: I knew we were going to score. We trust in the offense. We knew it was just a matter of time. On Lorenzen rallying UK: He just sparked them since he wasn't the starter and came in ready to go. They really didn't do a lot of things differently. We were just getting confused and busting some coverages.
    • Damien James: For a second, I thought we were going to lose it. But our offense went down and did a great job to get it done. They knew what they had to do and did it, but there were a lot of us who were very nervous.
    • Bradie James: We were very close to disaster. A win is a win. You can't categorize whether it's close or it's huge. It's not how we wanted to win, but we pulled it off. We've been trying to put the wheels on the wagon. It's time to get rolling.
    • LB Trev Faulk on Lorenzen: He really didn't do anything differently. The main thing was he kept us off balance with a number of QB draws. And we just didn't do as good a job in the second half as we did in the first. In the second half, we gave them too many second-and-short yardage. But we were ready for the last one. We were expecting it.


    • Morriss rued the missed opportunity to get a big win. It would have been huge. Extra big. ... Our games are really hurting right now. ... To a man, we're upset we didn't win the game ...
      On Lorenzen: Shane started to struggle. Jared put the ball on the money and got us going. I think he came in and performed like we thought he could.
      On Clayton's winning touchdown grab: That's a tough route to stop anyway. And it's so tough with the receivers they've got and the QB they've got.
    • Lorenzen: I have mixed emotions about tonight's game. I am glad that I was able to get in there and help this team out, but obviously we wanted to come out with a win. Rohan Davey is a great QB and LSU is a great team. Unfortunately, they are the ones who get to walk away with the win tonight.
    • Dennis Johnson: We let them go 80 yards and nobody made a play. Somebody has to make a play.

    The victory in Lexington did indeed salvage the LSU season. The Tigers won six of their last seven games. But they needed some help to attain their goal of winning the West.

    • After losing to Ole Miss at home 35-24 October 27, Saban's squad needed the Rebels, 3-1 in the SEC, to lose three more games.
    • 4-1 Auburn had to lose two more to set up the December 1 showdown postponed by 9/11 in Tiger Stadium for the West title.
    • Amazingly, all that came to pass, and LSU roared over the visiting Tigers 27-14.
    • Then they upset Tennessee in a rematch in Atlanta for the championship.
    • The unexpected season ended with a 47-34 thrashing of Illinois in the Sugar Bowl to earn a #7 ranking in the final AP poll.
    The 2001 success planted the seeds for LSU's fabulous 2003 season when they won the SEC and the BCS Championship.