Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Les Miles (and former LSU coaches) by the numbers

In College Football, General LSU on January 14, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Although obviously he inherited a good team in the wake of Nick Saban’s departure, Les Miles hasn’t coached for just one or two seasons. He has been the LSU head coach for 6 seasons now, fifth all-time. If he coaches through next season, he will be in a tie for third in that category. He’s not another Larry Coker (for example), who won 41 of his first 44 games at Miami (including all of his first 24 games) before going 19-12 in the next two-and-a-half seasons and being fired. Not that I thought Coker being fired was necessarily the right move, but I think the team was on a clear decline over that time, so I understood why he was fired.

There may have been some doubt about Les being different from Coker after his 13-9 stretch between October 2008 and January 2010, but with this year’s 11-win season that cannot in any way be traced to Saban (except for the program’s good will), I think now we can look at how he stacks up compared to past LSU coaches. But before I do that, I also wanted to note that, despite a disastrous run at the end of his tenure, Gerry DiNardo was 26-9-1 in his first three years at LSU (better than Saban’s 26-12 in his first three seasons) and recruited almost all of the players who led LSU to the SEC Championship in 2001. So Saban didn’t take over in a vacuum either, but he deserves a good bit of credit for what he did with the players who were there (as Miles does for the players who were there when he arrived).

I’m not just writing this because Miles stayed either.

Miles is #1 or #2 on all of these lists of accomplishments except for number of seasons coached, which makes this information all the more impressive, and number of wins (only because of the relative number of seasons coached).

1 Charles McClendon 18
2 Bernie Moore 13
t3 Paul Dietzel 7
t3 Gus Tinsley 7
5 Les Miles 6*
t6 Mike Donahue 5
t6 Gerry DiNardo 5
t6 Nick Saban 5
*2011 would be Miles’ 7th

1 Charles McClendon 137
2 Bernie Moore 83
3 Les Miles 62
4 Nick Saban 48
5 Paul Dietzel 46
6 Gus Tinsley 35

Winning % (More than 20 games)
1 Les Miles 0.785
t2 Nick Saban 0.750
t2 Bill Arnsparger 0.750
4 Biff Jones 0.741
5 Charles McClendon 0.692

Bowl appearances
1 Charles McClendon 13
2 Les Miles 6
t3 Nick Saban 5
t3 Bernie Moore 5
t5 Gerry DiNardo 3
t5 Paul Dietzel 3
t5 Bill Arnsparger 3

Bowl wins
1 Charles McClendon 7
2 Les Miles 5
t3 Nick Saban 3
t3 Gerry DiNardo 3
5 Paul Dietzel 2
t6 Bernie Moore 1
t6 Bill Arnsparger 1

10+ win seasons
1 Les Miles* 4
t2 Nick Saban* 2
t2 Paul Dietzel* 2
t4 Gerry DiNardo 1
t4 Mike Archer 1
t4 Bill Arnsparger 1
t4 Edgar Wingard 1
*Miles has 4 of the 6 11+ win seasons. Dietzel and Saban have one each. These three coaches are the only ones to win major-poll national championships at LSU.

Top 25* finishes
1 Charles McClendon 10 (2 split)
2 Les Miles 5
t3 Nick Saban 4 (1 split)
t3 Bernie Moore^ 4
t5 Bill Arnsparger 3
t5 Paul Dietzel 3
t5 Gerry DiNardo 3 (1 split)
8 Mike Archer 2 (1 split)
9 Gus Tinsley^ 1
*AP poll became top 25 in 1989, UPI became top 25 in 1990. Most polls were top 20 before then, but AP only ranked 10 teams from 1962-67. AP began in 1936; UPI began in 1950, was succeeded by USAToday in 1991 (although some media reports an overlap), and has had various titles since. “Split” means that it was only in one of the two major polls.

^AP poll was the only relevant poll during these careers. These also apply to the top-10 list.

Top 10 finishes
1 Charles McClendon 7 (3 split)
2 Les Miles 4
t3 Paul Dietzel 3
t3 Bernie Moore^ 3
5 Nick Saban 2
t6 Gus Tinsley^ 1
t6 Mike Archer 1
t6 Bill Arnsparger 1 (split)

Final Rankings, 2010 College Football Season

In College Football, General LSU, Rankings, Rankings Commentary on January 12, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Full ratings

rank team prev.
1 Auburn 1
2 TCU 3
3 Oklahoma 5
4 Ohio St. 5
5 Oregon 2
6 Boise St. 7
7 Stanford 9
8 LSU 10
9 Nevada 14
10 Okie St. 13
11 Mich. St. 6
12 Arkansas 8
13 Alabama 18
14 Wisconsin 12
15 Missouri 11
16 Utah 17
17 Texas A&M 15
18 Florida St. 21
19 Va. Tech 19
20 Nebraska 16
21 Miss St. 24
22 NC State —
23 Tulsa 25
24 S.Carolina 20
25 Notre Dame —

Out of top 25: (22) West Virginia, (23) Hawaii

I’m pretty tired from finishing all this, but I do have a few comments. I’m pleased LSU finished in the top 10, although you always wonder about a play here and there when you get that high, especially playing the teams LSU played. I’m going to post a blog about Les Miles and his accomplishments at LSU so far with more details. Although this is his 4th 11+ win season, this is the first time people can’t really argue that it was because of Saban. It’s good to make that step and also good that things can be even better next year. I’m hoping it’s another 2006-2007 transition (but hopefully with less than two losses this time).

I know, Notre Dame had 5 losses, but Tulsa doesn’t look like such a bad loss now, and I think they were penalized for it too much in the human polls. Michigan and Navy still aren’t good losses, but there were wins over Utah, USC, and Pitt to balance those losses out. The other losses were Michigan St. and Stanford, Big Ten co-champions and Orange Bowl champions, respectively.

I also know people will say Oregon is too low, but there aren’t the quality wins there. Their second-best win is over USC, the same second-best win that Notre Dame has.

I calculated my rankings before the national championship game and even if they had won, Oregon would have been stuck at #2. I don’t think that would have been right, so I plan to make losses count for more next year. But it demonstrates the scheduling deficit I’m talking about.

I also have to talk a bit about the SEC. As you’ve probably heard, this is the fifth BCS title in a row for the conference and sixth in 8 years (to go back to my 2003 LSU Tigers). A less-quoted bit of information is that the top 5 of the SEC West (Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi St.) went 44-2 (almost 96%) against outside competition, the only losses being by Alabama to South Carolina (who happens to be in the other SEC division) and by Arkansas to Ohio St. These were the best wins, excepting the ones against one another, based on my rankings:
(5) Oregon
(11) Michigan St.
(17) Texas A&M, twice
(24) South Carolina, thrice
(27) West Virginia
(32) Florida, thrice
(39) North Carolina

Congratulations to Ohio St. for finally beating an SEC team in a bowl game, by the way. They were my pre-season #1 for a reason, although I did mention at the time that I thought Wisconsin would be a problem, and that turned out to be their only loss. Of course, Arkansas was only arguably #2 in the SEC, and Ohio St. is the only one of the three co-champions of the Big Ten to win, so they have to be the real Big Ten #1. Michigan St., another co-champion, lost to the #4 team in the SEC West, 49-7. So you have to keep these accomplishments in perspective. Ohio St. still hasn’t beaten an SEC champion in a bowl game.

I don’t understand the billboards that went up in Ohio congratulating TCU. For doing what, making sure that the Big Ten still didn’t look that good despite Ohio St.’s bowl win? And if you’re trying to make Wisconsin feel bad, why not put them up in Wisconsin? Of course, were I a Wisconsin fan, I would be reminded of my team’s win over Ohio St., so maybe that wouldn’t make sense either.

Back to the SEC, I was hoping Alabama would pass up Michigan St., but reducing the gap from 12 spots to 2 is pretty much the most one game out of 13 (when between two good teams) is supposed to do, and I should remind you that I don’t factor in margin of victory. If I were a voter, I probably would have put Alabama higher. But these things happen in the computer rankings, and I think it gives a better picture of the whole season than the human polls do.

Anyway, I’m not letting the college football season die just yet. I’m going to post about Les Miles among LSU coaches, and I’m going to do the final conference report. I might even think of something else. I also have some blog housekeeping to do, as well as posting blogs that were lost in cyberspace upon the closing of sites I’d rather not mention.

By the way, in less than 8 months (September 3 to be exact), LSU returns to the House that Jerry Built to face the Oregon Ducks.

Rivalry Series: LSU vs. Texas A&M

In College Football, Rivalry on January 6, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Recent games
2010 (Cotton Bowl) LSU 41, Texas A&M 24
2012 LSU 24, @Texas A&M 19
2013 @LSU 34, Texas A&M 10
2014 LSU 23, @Texas A&M 16
2015 @LSU 19, Texas A&M 7
2016: LSU 54, @Texas A&M 39
2017: @LSU 45, Texas A&M 21
2018: LSU 72, @Texas A&M 74 (7 OT)
2019: LSU 50, Texas A&M 7

Unofficial promotional t-shirt for 2012 game

2011 New Year’s post

UPDATED RECORDS (after 2019 game)
LSU leads, 33-21-3
(The first game was in 1899, in LSU’s seventh “season” and only the second of more than three games.)

There are a few different ways of looking at the records by location:
In Baton Rouge, LSU leads, 26-10-1.
In Louisiana (the 1908 game was played in New Orleans), LSU leads, 27-10-1.
In College Station, Texas A&M leads, 8-4-1 (LSU’s one win before the Aggies joined the SEC was in 1987, in what had been their first visit since 1922).
In Dallas (1914, 1955, and 2010), Texas A&M leads, 2-1.
In other cities in Texas (Houston, Galveston, and San Antonio; from 1913 to 1917), the teams are tied, 1-1-1.
Overall in Texas, Texas A&M leads, 10-6-2, but lost four in a row going into the controversial 2018 game.
In bowl games (The Jan. 1944 Orange Bowl and Jan. 2011 Cotton Bowl), LSU leads, 2-0.

In the Cotton Bowl overall, LSU is 3-1-1.
LSU handed the Aggies the sixth straight loss in Cotton Bowls in which A&M has played, and dropped them to is 4-8 overall. Texas A&M has since improved its record with the win over Oklahoma after the 2012 season. (This italicized section is not updated.)

Largest margin of victory—54, by Texas A&M, 1914 (in Dallas)
Largest LSU margin of victory—43, 2019 (Baton Rouge)
Largest shutout win—46, by Texas A&M, 1922 (College Station)
Largest shutout win by LSU—37, 1971 (Baton Rouge)
Longest winning streak—7 games, LSU, 2010-2017
Longest A&M winning streak—5 games, 1991-1995
Longest unbeaten streak—LSU, 10 games (9-0-1), 1960-1969

Highest-scoring games:
2018: @Texas A&M 74, LSU 72 (7 OT)
2016: LSU 54, Texas A&M 39
1914: Texas A&M 63, LSU 9
2017: LSU 45, Texas A&M 21
2010 (Cotton Bowl played in Jan. 2011): LSU 41, Texas A&M 24
(2018: Regulation score: LSU 31, Texas A&M 31)
1972: LSU 42, Texas A&M 17
2019: LSU 50, Texas A&M 7
1992: Texas A&M 31, LSU 22

As of the 2019 game, the Aggies tied Kentucky for the seventh most-played opponent. Florida and Arkansas had passed up the Aggies between the regularly-scheduled non-conference game in 1995 and the bowl game after the 2010 season. Since they’re all annual opponents, the Gators and Razorbacks will stay ahead.

LSU is Texas A&M’s 8th most commonly-played opponent, and this has not changed. LSU is ahead of only one SWC team, Houston, but is the only non-SWC program ahead of Houston. Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. are the only two other programs to have played the Aggies 20 times or more (at least as major teams).

After the Aggies break the tie on LSU’s list with Kentucky, neither team will move up until some time after 2030.

SERIES SUMMARY (going into the 2014 game)

LSU’s success in the series corresponded with the Tigers becoming a consistently strong program, beginning after World War II. When the series took a break (there was a gap in the series between 1923 and 1942), Texas A&M led, 7-3-2.

LSU was strong in some of the years before World War I (going 1-0-1 in the series from 1908-1913) and in the 1930s (no games against A&M at all). From 1914 to 1921, the series was tied 2-2-1. The Tigers had some declining years in the early to middle 1920s, so the Texas Aggies (as a side note, LSU is an A&M school too) won the last two games of that installment of the series. LSU had no wins against current SEC teams in either of those two years and did not win any such games until defeating Auburn in 1926.

The rivalry went back and forth when it was renewed in the early 1940s, but LSU would win every year from 1945 to 1949. There was a home and home in 1955 and 1956, both games Texas A&M wins (with Bear Bryant as head coach), but by the time the rivalry became a semi-permanent fixture in 1960, LSU had one of its strongest periods in history, and Texas A&M had only one winning season between 1960 and 1973. LSU failed to win only two of those games. To be fair, they were all played in Baton Rouge, but that likely had something to do with the disparity between the teams. Texas A&M had good years in 1974 and 1975 while LSU was mediocre, so the Aggies won those two, but then the series ended until 1986.

The ten-year run from 1986 to 1995 was back to a home-and-home format. LSU won 4 of the first 5 games in this set to take a 26-15-3 series lead. But then Curley Hallman, the worst coach of more than 10 games in LSU history, took over and went 0-4 against the Aggies. Four consecutive double-digit-win seasons by Texas A&M didn’t hurt their cause either. In Gerry DiNardo’s first game as LSU head coach, his team traveled to College Station to face an A&M team that had gone undefeated the year before, so not surprisingly, the Tigers lost. So that’s why the LSU lead is still smaller than it used to be.

The intervening 17 years were better for LSU than they were for Texas A&M, and despite the emergence of “Johnny Football,” LSU has won its first two games against the Aggies as SEC rivals, holding A&M to below 20 points in each game. The Aggies actually scored more points in the Cotton Bowl against LSU after the 2010 season than in either game. The 10 points scored in 2013 is the fewest A&M has scored against LSU since 1990.

The rivalry was also interesting over the years because of the fertile recruiting ground between Texas A&M and LSU. East Texas and Louisiana have supplied a much higher percentage of major-college and NFL talent than their population would warrant; and this is true over decades, not just recently.

LSU went to no bowl games from 1989 to 1994 (inclusive), and their improvements as a program since the first game of 1995 (bowl games in all but two seasons, a minimum of 8 wins ever year since 2000) obviously were not reflected. Certainly, there were some potentially interesting games that the cessation of the series caused us as fans to miss.


That’s what I had to say by way of general series summary, but it seems like a more interesting story to me if you place Texas A&M in the context of rivalries with the following three former Aggie coaches (LSU scarcely went a year from 1949 to 2003 without facing one or more of these coaches), although much of the story is away from Texas A&M:

2019 was LSU’s largest margin of victory in series history, which had been 37 (in 1971, Gene Stallings’ last season). That win had also followed a two-point upset loss in the previous year that ended a significant LSU unbeaten streak in the series (10 in that case; it had been 7 going into last year’s game).

LSU would also get some vengeance in 1993 (under head coach Curley Hallman, who was an A&M grad) by beating Stallings’ undefeated Alabama team. There was another coach you might have heard of who coached Alabama and A&M by the name of Paul “Bear” Bryant, who had been the last A&M coach to beat the Tigers before Stallings did.

In 2018, Jimbo Fisher (who had been LSU’s offensive coordinator for 7 seasons before going to Florida St. [where he did not face the Tigers]) became only the fifth Texas A&M coach to beat LSU since World War II (joining Bryant, Stallings, Emory Bellard, and R.C. Slocum). A couple of Aggie coaches (Bellard and Jackie Sherrill) went on to beat LSU as Mississippi St. head coaches, although Sherrill (an Alabama grad) only beat the Tigers twice in 16 tries overall as a coach. Dennis Franchione was actually the Alabama coach before becoming the A&M coach. He went 1-1 against Nick Saban’s Tigers but wouldn’t get to coach against LSU while at A&M.

Jackie Sherrill
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1982-1988), 0-3
Mississippi St. vs. LSU (1991-2003), 2-11

In Sherrill’s last three seasons at Texas A&M, the Aggies won 9 games, 10 games, and 7 games, respectively. But he couldn’t quite beat LSU, and only came within two touchdowns in his one game against the Tigers in College Station in 1987. LSU won 9 games, 10 games, and 8 games, respectively, so talent-wise, maybe it should have been closer. One of Sherrill’s best years was the SWC Championship team in 1985 (losses only to Alabama and Baylor), and the Aggies would win the Cotton Bowl over Auburn, but they did not play LSU that season.

Sherrill defeated LSU for the first time when he faced them as head coach of Mississippi St. in 1991, and it was in Tiger Stadium no less. But things mostly went downhill from there.

LSU’s one loss in the last 19 games was by 1 point at MSU in 1999. MSU would finish 10-2, while LSU would finish 3-8.

Although it is not surprising that LSU has dominated Mississippi St. for the last 10 seasons, it was strange how the recent run against the Bulldogs began.

LSU would only win 2 games in 1992, Jackie Sherrill’s second season with the Bulldogs, but they beat #20 Miss. St., 24-3. Mississippi St. finished 7-5 that season after a loss to North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. The LSU loss was only one of two they suffered before Nov. 14. Sherrill would only defeat the Tigers in his first season (1991 in Baton Rouge) and 1999 in Starkville, when LSU was going through an 8-game losing streak that was only broken after coach Gerry DiNardo was fired before the last game of the season against Arkansas.

Although LSU would finish only 5-6 in 1993 and the game was in Starkville, the Tigers won on a last-second field goal by Andre LaFleur, 18-16. Miss. St. would only finish 3-6-2 though.

Miss. St. would finish 8-4 the following year, once again losing the Peach Bowl, and LSU would finish 4-7, but once again, that didn’t stop LSU from winning, 44-24 this time.

1998 was the Bulldogs’ only appearance in the SEC Championship and LSU would again finish 4-7, but the Tigers beat the #24 Bulldogs, 41-6. It would be the last conference win for DiNardo.

Gene Stallings
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1965-71), 1-5-1
Alabama vs. LSU (1990-96), 6-1

The aforementioned Curley Hallman’s biggest win as LSU head coach was over Alabama in 1993 (in terms of winning percentage, he was easily the worst LSU head coach of more than 10 games in history). LSU was the first team to beat Alabama after the Tide’s 1992 national championship, putting an end to a 30-game undefeated streak. Hallman was an assistant at Alabama for Bryant after playing at Texas A&M under Gene Stallings, who was Alabama’s coach in 1993.

As head coach of Southern Mississippi, Hallman also defeated Stallings in 1990.

LSU had also come close to a huge upset in 1991. The Tigers would finish with a losing record and Alabama would finish 11-1, but Bama only won 20-17 at Tiger Stadium. The only other game that was close (decided by fewer than eighteen) in the Stallings era was in 1995 when the Tide won 10-3 in Tuscaloosa.

Stallings’ one win against LSU while at A&M was one of only two wins in 1970, the other against Wichita St. (which stopped having a football team in 1986), in a year in which LSU would win the SEC outright. The Tigers have not gone unbeaten in the SEC since (this changed, at least nominally, with the 2011 season… LSU won all 8 regularly scheduled SEC games as well as the conference championship but lost to an SEC team, Alabama, in the postseason). All contests against the Tigers during Stallings’ time in College Station were played in Baton Rouge. Stallings had only one winning record in his seven seasons with the Aggies, beating Alabama in the Cotton Bowl after the 1967 season (Curley Hallman grabbed two Ken Stabler interceptions in that game). LSU, who eventually won the Sugar Bowl that year, beat the Aggies, 17-6. The tie took place in 1966, in unremarkable 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 respective seasons, except it was remarkable in the fact that it was LSU’s worst season between 1961 and 1980.

Emory Bellard
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1972-78), 2-2
Mississippi St. vs. LSU (1979-85), 5-2

Other than what seemed to be a fluke 2-point win by Gene Stallings’ squad in 1970, Bellard was the first coach since Bryant (I saved the best for last) to have success against LSU as the A&M head coach. He lost his first two games against the Tigers but had a breakthrough in 1974 before blowing out the Tigers 39-8 in 1975. They were both fairly weak Tiger teams, but it was seemingly enough to convince the Tigers not to play the Aggies for a while.

They would get more of Bellard anyway. The Bulldogs went a then-characteristic 3-8 his first year and lost to the Tigers by 18. After that season though, he became the only coach (or combination of coaches) in Bulldog history to beat the Tigers five games in a row. In fact, since he left Starkville, the Bulldogs have only beaten LSU a TOTAL of five times. Three of those LSU teams won at least 7 games, so it wasn’t a random grouping of bad LSU teams either. His last win over LSU, in 1984, kept the Tigers from winning the SEC. After winning 17 combined games in 1980 and 1981, he had no more winning seasons though. During his fourth losing season in a row his Bulldogs would lose a close game to LSU in 1985. He would not coach in college again after that season.

Bear Bryant
Kentucky vs. LSU (1946-53), 2-1-1
Texas A&M vs. LSU (1954-57), 2-0
Alabama vs. LSU (1958-82), 16-4

For his career, he was 20-5-1 against the Tigers with a total of 6 shutouts.

The head coach of Kentucky the first time the Wildcats played LSU was none other than Bear Bryant, who always seemed to give the Tigers trouble. His teams shut out the Tigers the first two times he faced them, before LSU beat Kentucky in his second-to-last season there and tied them in his last. LSU-Kentucky was a yearly rivalry from that time until 2003, after the SEC decided on one permanent inter-division rivalry per team.

His success in the LSU-Alabama series is despite the fact that he lost to the Tigers, 13-3, at Mobile in 1958, his first season at Alabama. LSU won the national championship that year, and the Tide finished 5-4-1 and only 3-4-1 in conference. Still, it was a vast improvement over the previous three years, in which Bama had only won four games combined.

To go back to LSU coaches for a second, the 1958 win was the second in a row over Alabama for LSU coach Paul Dietzel. The next LSU coach to beat Alabama two years in a row would be Nick Saban in 2000 and 2001. Dietzel did not lose to Alabama, but he did not face the Tide (at least not with LSU) after that 1958 game.

The Tide would win a national championship of its own in 1961, but wouldn’t be able to return the favor against the Tigers until 1964, a 10-1 season in which Alabama won the polls but lost the bowl game. Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss were unofficial national co-champions in 1962, when USC won the major polls as well as the vast majority of other ranking systems for its first national championship. 1962 was LSU’s last claim to a national championship, recognized by the NCAA anyway, until 2003; but Alabama would get several and beat LSU often for the remainder of its contests against them under Bryant. LSU’s only subsequent wins over Bear Bryant were 1969, 1970, and 1982.

Despite his claim that playing at Tiger Stadium was like playing inside a drum, he was 10-1-1 there overall and 8-1 with the Tide. LSU was 3-8 against Bryant in the state of Alabama.

Welcome to 2011: Updates and Previews

In College Football, Me, NFL, Uncategorized on January 6, 2011 at 12:24 PM

I’m just starting to work on the all-important LSU-Texas A&M rivalry post. Obviously, I didn’t get around to any type of bowl preview or pre-bowl conference report, but I’ll at least to the conference report after the season.

The holiday season was a little crazy, first in trying to work ahead to make room on my schedule, then in getting ready to go back to Louisiana, then once I was there I got sick. Things have just calmed down enough and I’ve caught up on sleep enough that I can even think about posting things.

As far as the conference report, while the SEC hasn’t been exactly stellar in bowl games, the Big XII and Big Ten haven’t done well, and the Pac-10 didn’t have enough games. Also, the USC-Notre Dame game hadn’t been factored in previously. But those results, combined with successes by the Mountain West could mix up several of the other conferences.

I think next year I’m going to start posting NFL picks. I got about 10 games right per week (on weeks that I made the cutoff anyway) this year. Of course, I probably won’t do as well if I do that.

I just wanted to share these thoughts and let you know that I’m still here. And Happy New Year.