Paul Dietzel, a former coach best known for leading LSU to a national title in 1958 and two more top-5 finishes before finishing his career at South Carolina, passed away Tuesday at the age of 89, according to his family.
Dietzel's seven-year run at LSU had its fits and starts, but his 25-7-1 record over his last four seasons was good enough to parlay into a job at Army in 1962, where he was the first non-graduate coach in the program's history. At that point Army was still one of the premier programs in college football, having suffered only three losing seasons since the turn of the 20th century. Dietzel's teams struggled, as he went 21-18-1 before moving on to South Carolina.
At USC, Dietzel was both the head coach and athletic director, and though he led the Gamecocks to an ACC title and Peach Bowl berth in 1969, he never finished a season ranked. He was relieved of both his duties after nine seasons, at which point he left football and got into administration.
Last year at the USC game, Paul Dietzel and his wife were honored on the field, flanked by the ADs of LSU and USC pic.twitter.com/suvnLMTbQ3— Pod Katt (@valleyshook) September 24, 2013
Dietzel's lasting legacy at LSU and in college football as a whole, aside from the national championship, was the "Chinese Bandits," a unit of second-string defenders known for aggressive play who were used en masse thanks to (since-discarded) substitution rules. The unit buoyed LSU to its title in '58 alongside Heisman-winning offensive back Billy Cannon, and Dietzel brought the tradition to Army as well.
Dietzel was later a commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference before being the athletic director at Indiana and LSU. He also served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and American Football Coaches Association.