Former LSU coaches finding success
Three former assistants took their teams to championship weekend
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
The LSU Tigers may not have been playing on championship weekend this year.
But faces from the program’s past took center stage in several conference-deciding tilts.
Former national championship winning coordinators took their teams to the ACC and Big 12 Conference Championship Games, while another former assistant took a school from 1-11 to conference champions in just one year.
Jimbo Fisher served as LSU’s offensive coordinator from 2000-06 under both Nick Saban and Les Miles before leaving for Tallahassee to become offensive coordinator and eventually coach-in-waiting at Florida State.
After legendary head coach Bobby Bowden retired following the conclusion of last season, Fisher led the Noles to a 9-3 regular season record and an ACC Atlantic Division Championship in his first season.
Unfortunately, Fisher could not stop the momentum of the Virginia Tech, as the Hokies earned an 11th straight victory, 44-33.
In the other primetime championship contest, former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini led Nebraska to its second consecutive Big 12 Championship Game, but again the Cornhuskers fell short.
Despite racing out to a 17-0 lead, Oklahoma came storming back and won 23-20 - spoiling the Huskers’ final game as a member of the Big 12.
But Pelini has revived Husker nation, and the school aught to be a favorite to represent its side of the Big 10 in the inaugural Big 10 Championship Game a year from now.
Staying in the Midwest, a sleeper Coach of the Year candidate is former LSU Running Backs and Special Teams Coordinator Mike Haywood of Miami (Ohio).
Haywood was in Baton Rouge from 1995-2002. After a stint as the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, he took over a Miami squad in 2009 that had only one win over an FCS opponent in 2008.
After a rough first season that only saw a single win, Haywood turned around the Redhawks and led them to the MAC Championship this year on the heels of a 26-21 win over Northern Illinois Friday night.
Miami lost only one conference game this season, but the Redhawks really set the tone for their season with a competitive Week One loss to Florida in the Swamp as they only trailed by nine in the fourth quarter.
Another coach who has done a fantastic turnaround job with LSU ties is Derek Dooley of Tennessee who brought his squad back from a 2-6 start to bowl eligibility.
The six Volunteer losses were by an average of 20.5 points, but Dooley changed starting quarterbacks with four games to go, and Tyler Bray won all four to round out the season.
But it hasn’t been all positives for former LSU assistants in college football this season.
Shockingly, the Texas Longhorns won’t go bowling for the first time since 1997 with a disappointing 5-7 record.
Although you could argue that the disappointing 5-7 record wasn’t defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s fault as Texas boasted the No. 7 defense in the nation. It was a lackluster offensive attack doomed the Horns.
In Larry Porter’s first year as the head man at Memphis, the blue and white Tigers only pulled off one victory and suffered 10 losses by double digits.
LSU’s 2008 co-defensive coordinators had mixed seasons in 2010 after terrible first seasons as the head coach at their respective schools.
Doug Mallory matched a 1-11 season at New Mexico with another one this year, while Bradley Dale Peveto rebounded from an 0-11 inaugural season at Northwestern State to go a respectable 5-6 with a nice four-game conference winning streak in the middle of the season.