Basking in the afterglow of a 33-17 upset pounding of Miami to start his second full season as head coach of the LSU football juggernaut, Ed Orgeron leaves Arlington poised to equal Curley Hallman in winning percentage as certain victory is pending against Southeastern Louisiana in Saturday night’s home opener.
By lacerating the Lions, Orgeron will square his head coaching record at 33-33. Oregeron was 10-25 at Ole Miss; 6-2 at USC and with the rout of SLU, he will be 17-6 at LSU. Hallman, who directed the Tigers to a 16-28 record from 1991-94 was 23-11 at Southern Miss and retired with a mark of 39-39.
For those who sneer at a pedestrian .500 coaching record, it is worth recalling Gerry DiNardo would have loved to have been even in wins and losses in his career. DiNardo was 59-76-1 as head man at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana. According to the record, the man from Notre Dame was the most futile of the modern Tiger leaders.
Discounting Hal Hunter, who was 1-0 as the interim coach of the Bengals in the final game of the Twentieth Century, here is the overall record for the last ten LSU football bosses based on winning percentage.
Coach Record Percent
- Nick Saban 219-62-1 77.9
- Bill Arnsparger 26-8-3 76.5
- Les Miles 141-55-0 71.9
- Charles McClendon 137-59-7 69.9
- Mike Archer 27-18-1 60.0
- Paul Dietzel 109-95-5 53.4
- Jerry Stovall 22-21-2 51.2
- Curley Hallman 39-39-0 50.0
- Ed Orgeron 32-33-0 49.2
- Gerry DiNardo 59-76-1 43.7
It is curious that in the head to head matchup between the LSU coach with the best record and the Tiger boss with the worst, DiNardo’s LSU team destroyed Saban’s Michigan State crew 45-26 in the 1995 Independence Bowl.
Saban bristles at female reporter who is two heads taller
Nick Saban gallantly apologized to ESPN’s Maria Taylor after chiding the sideline reporter for inquiring about his quarterback preference this season, a legitimate line of questioning from Taylor. Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts both received playing time in the opener, but it appears Tagovailoa is the clear No. 1 QB at Alabama.
“Well I still like both guys. I think both guys are good players,” Saban said to Taylor after Alabama’s 51-14 demolition of Louisville. “I think both guys can help our team, all right? So why do you continually try to get me to say something that doesn’t respect one of them? I’m not going to. So quit asking.”
This columnist is recommending an arm wrestling match pitting the 5-6 former Kent State defensive back against the 6-2 former University of Georgia volleyball and basketball standout. Imagine the pay per view payout for this competition.
At 66, Saban appears to have remained in good physical condition, but he might be hard pressed to beat the 31-year-old Taylor in a show of strength. It should be imperative for all SEC coaches to be capable of bench pressing their weight. If they are going to flap their jaws at journalists, they should be able to back up their belligerence. This requirement may be the only way to extricate Saban from the league since his contract runs through 2025.
For those of us who smile over remembrances of other showdowns between irate coaches and intrepid journalists, this pleasant memory is offered.
In 1981, Jerry Stovall took exception to a question from Tim Brando, who was working for radio station WIBR at the time. This was an exchange in Tiger Stadium during the Tuesday preview of the next game.
Brando asked the coach if he would prefer Tiger Stadium to be full with half the stadium booing him, or half empty with everybody cheering.
Stovall snapped, “Tim, Would you rather be beat in the head with a baseball bat or a sledge hammer?”
I have little doubt that the then 39-year-old Stovall could have benched pressed his weight. As for the then 25-year-old Brando? Not so much.
Tim got the last laugh. He made it to CBS. Stovall was out of a job two years later.
LSU-Southern clash is overdue
As Southeastern Louisiana University enters Death Valley this week followed later in the season by Louisiana Tech, the question remains why LSU does not play cross-town rival Southern University in football. Southern is every bit as worthy a foe as SLU, and the outcome would not be in doubt.
The Jaguars opened their season with a 55-7 defeat to TCU in a contest that generated almost no interest. There would be ample anticipation for a gridiron event featuring the state’s two land grant institutions. It would stimulate a festival atmosphere from TigerTown to JaguarLand.
A game featuring LSU and Southern could provide a path to unify North and South Baton Rouge. Florida Boulevard is often defined as a dividing line for the city. A Tiger-Jaguar battle would not incite violence as some skeptics fear. Instead, it would highlight two of the most treasured entities in the Capital City. The whole region could celebrate this historic event.
As nice as it is for SLU to experience the bright lights of Tiger Stadium, it is overdue for Southern to play a game on the LSU campus. Tiger fans have displayed affection for people from other places. The Louisiana House member who represents Tiger Stadium is Patricia Smith, who is a graduate of Kent State, alma mater of Nick Saban.
The U.S. House member who represents Death Valley is Garret Graves, who attended the University of Alabama. Despite being educated in other places, Smith and Graves are greeted with open arms when they visit the Ole War Skule.
Southern University has produced a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers in Mel Blount and Aeneas Williams. Southeastern has no Pro Football Hall of Famers.
The two Jaguars who have been enshrined make Southern more prominent in membership at Canton than many SEC schools.
Here are the current members of the SEC and the number of Pro Football Hall of Famers from each institution.
School Pro Football HOF Members
- Alabama 8
- LSU 3
- Arkansas 3
- Auburn 2
- Florida 2
- Georgia 2
- Kentucky 2
- Missouri 2
- Ole Miss 2
- Tennessee 2
- Texas A&M 1
- Mississippi State 0
- South Carolina 0
- Vanderbilt 0
Notre Dame has the most Pro Football Hall of Famer with 13 followed by USC with 12 and Ohio State with 10.