Putting the aught decade for LSU into numbers
By JIM ENGSTER
Tiger Rag Featured Columnist
LSU was wobbling at the final gun of the decade, but Tiger footballers produced ten years to remember on the gridiron. The 0’s were the most impressive years in LSU’s glorious past with ten bowl games, seven bowl victories, three SEC championships and two BCS titles under Nick Saban and Les Miles.
When Saban took charge in 2000, LSU had lost 15 of the last 19 games of the 90’s. Five years of Saban and five seasons with Miles resulted in a record of 99-31 for LSU to lift the Tiger program to the highest echelon of collegiate football.
It’s convenient to forget LSU’s pitiful performance in the 1990’s in which the Tigers lost five more games than they won and posted a putrid 31-44-1 record in the SEC. By contrast, LSU was 55-25 in the league under Saban and Miles from 2000-09.
Joe Dean and Mark Emmert warrant plaudits for signing a journeyman coach to a five-year, $6 million contract that made Nick Saban the third-highest paid college coach in the land at the close of 1999. Saban was a 48-year-old relative unknown when he took the LSU job sight unseen and rolled into town from East Lansing sporting a black turtleneck on Nov. 30, 1999.
The arrival of Saban, and Skip Bertman’s hiring of Miles five years later made LSU the envy of the nation not long after enduring six consecutive losing campaigns from 1989 to 1994.
A comparison of decades puts into perspective how special the past ten years were for LSU and its fan base.
|Decade||Record||Pct.||SEC Titles||National Titles|
|2000-09||99-31-0||76||‘01, ‘03, ‘07||‘03, ‘07|
Note: LSU was named national champion by the Williamson rating service in 1935 and 1936, by Sagarin in 1936 and by Berryman in 1962. The highest that LSU finished in a major poll in those years was No. 2 by the Associated Press in 1936.
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Last week’s column noted that Les Miles has directed his troops in 30 games decided by ten points or less in his 66-game tenure at Tiger Town. Miles is 20-10 in those contests, and his penchant for close encounters elicited a number of inquiries about Charles McClendon’s record in games decided by ten or fewer points from 1962-79.
Here is a look at the Charlie Mac Era and close games under LSU’s longest serving head football coach.
McClendon won 57 percent of his close games at LSU, and his teams played in contests decided by ten points or less 48.8 percent of the time.
Miles at LSU has won 67 percent of his close encounters, and his units have played in games decided by ten or fewer points 45.5 percent of the time.
Counting his four years at Oklahoma State from 2001-04, Miles is 29-18 in close games (62 percent), and his teams have played in games determined by ten or fewer points 40.9 percent of the time.
Nick Saban is 38-20-1 in close games at four schools (Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama). He has won 65 percent of close outings, and his teams have played in games determined by ten points or less 33.7 percent of the time.
Saban is definitely improving with age. He landed his first head coaching post when he was 38 years old in 1990 at Toledo. Here is a look at Saban’s record as he moved through four states in the college ranks.
Age of Saban Schools Record Pct
30-39 Toledo 9-2-0 82
40-49 MSU, LSU 46-31-1 60
50-58 LSU, Alabama 69-17 80
Total 4 Schools 124-50-1 71
The record of Les Miles has also progressed since the coach turned 50.
Age of Miles Schools Record Pct
40-49 Oklahoma State 19-14 58
50-56 OSU, LSU 60-22 73
Total 2 Schools 79-36 69
Jim Engster is the general manager of Louisiana Network and Tiger Rag. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.