NEW ORLEANS — Paul Dietzel, who led Louisiana State to its first football national championship and later coached at South Carolina, died early Tuesday. He was 89.
Dietzel coached LSU from 1955 until 1961, leaving for Army and then South Carolina.
He is the only football coach in South Carolina school history to win a conference title – his 1969 squad captured the Atlantic Coast Conference crown.
LSU sports spokesman Kent Lowe said Dietzel died after a brief illness, but did not provide any other details.
Dietzel left LSU to coach at Army from 1962-65.
He then served as South Carolina’s athletic director (1966-75) and head football coach (1966-74). He compiled a 42-53-1 record in his nine seasons at the helm of the South Carolina football team.
He also broadcast Southern Conference football games and helped create Samford University’s athletic department before returning to LSU as athletic director from 1978 until 1982.
Dietzel was the last living member of the staff that guided LSU to an undefeated season and national championship in 1958. The Tigers beat Clemson in the 1959 Sugar Bowl.
“His 1958 national championship set LSU on a path of being what it is today.” LSU vice chancellor and athletic director Joe Alleva said in a statement
Current LSU coach Les Miles tweeted, “Very sad to hear of passing of Paul Dietzel...was a key part of this LSU program...From one coach to another you will be missed..LM.”
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier met Dietzel when Dietzel returned to South Carolina last year for a football function.
“First order of business is to say coach Dietzel was a heck of guy. One of the best to coach college football I guess,” Spurrier said Tuesday.
After LSU fired Gus Tinsley, Dietzel got a three-year contract for $13,000 a year. He was 29 and the youngest member of the LSU staff, according to the university’s obituary.
His first three seasons the Tigers were 3-5-2, 3-7 and 5-5.
The undefeated season in 1958 ended 62-0 at Tulane before 83,221 people, then an SEC record.
LSU then beat Clemson 7-0 at Tulane Stadium in the Sugar Bowl.