Former South Carolina football coach, AD Paul Dietzel dead at 89

sports@islandpacket.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Former South Carolina head football coach and athletics director Paul Dietzel has died.

According to Louisiana State University sports information, Dietzel passed away early Tuesday morning after a brief illness at the age of 89.

Dietzel was the coach for the Gamecocks from 1966 through 1974, also serving as athletics director. He led the Gamecocks to a 6-0 conference record and their only Atlantic Coast Conference championship in 1969. It remains the school's lone conference championship in football.

Shortly afterward, he was responsible for South Carolina's withdrawal from the ACC in 1971.

His other achievements include the improvement of South Carolina's facilities and the hiring of baseball coach Bobby Richardson, a Sumter native and former New York Yankees great, who led the Gamecocks baseball program to its first three NCAA tournament appearances and the school's first College World Series appearance in 1975.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier met Dietzel when Dietzel returned to South Carolina last year for a football function.

"First order of business is to say coach Dietzel was a heck of guy. One of the best to coach college football I guess," Spurrier said Tuesday.

In nine seasons as the Gamecocks' football coach, Dietzel finished with a 42-53-1 record with just three winning seasons: 1969 (7-4), 1971 (6-5) and 1973 (7-4). His 42 wins rank him fourth among Gamecocks coaches all-time, trailing only Steve Spurrier (67), Rex Enright (64) and the man who replaced him as coach of the Gamecocks, Jim Carlen (45).

Dietzel's only bowl appearance was a 14-3 loss to West Virginia in the 1969 Peach Bowl. Ironically, that West Virginia team was coached by Carlen.

Dietzel's legacy is as the head coach and architect of LSU's 1958 football national championship. He was the last living member of that coaching staff.

He served as football coach from 1955 through 1961 and he returned to LSU in 1978 as athletic director, serving until 1982.

After first retiring to North Carolina, he eventually did some radio and TV work on football broadcasts in the Southern Conference and helped with the creation of the Samford University athletic department in Birmingham, Ala.

He was inducted into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010.

Overall, Dietzel was 109-95-5 in 20 seasons as a head coach at LSU (1955-1961), Army (1962-1965) and South Carolina (1966-1974). He also spent one season each as commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference and athletics director at Indiana University.

The notice the family posted Tuesday said, "Coach asked that in place of flowers that gifts be made to the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter in Baton Rouge."

Dietzel was born Sept. 5, 1924, in Fremont, Ohio. The family moved to Mansfield, in northwest Louisiana, where he played football, basketball and track in high school.

He was a freshman engineering student at Duke when he got a draft notice and left school to enlist in the Army Air Corps, beginning pilot training in January 1944 on a Stearman biplane and that fall on a B-24 bomber. His bomber was among 300 that firebombed Tokyo in May 1945, according to his memoir.

After the war, he enrolled as a pre-med major in Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he played under Sid Gillman, winning first-team All-American honors in 1947 from Williamson National Rating System Inc.

He worked as an assistant for Gillman at Miami, West Point and the University of Cincinnati, becoming plebe coach at West Point instead of enrolling in medical school at Columbia University. At Cincinnati, he named his defense the "Chinese Bandits" -- a name that later became famous at LSU -- after bad guys in the comic strip "Terry and the Pirates."

He left Cincinnati in 1951 for Kentucky, as Bear Bryant's offensive line coach.

After LSU fired Gus Tinsley, Dietzel got a three-year contract for $13,000 a year. He was 29 and the youngest member of the LSU staff, according to the university's obituary.

His first three seasons the Tigers were 3-5-2, 3-7 and 5-5. But the players he signed as freshmen in 1956 included Billy Cannon.

The undefeated season in 1958 ended 62-0 at Tulane before 83,221 people, then an SEC record. LSU then beat Clemson 7-0 at Tulane Stadium in the Sugar Bowl.

Dietzel is survived by his wife, daughter Kathie DuTremble, son Steve, daughter-in-law Judy Dietzel, grandsons David DuTremble and Paul Dietzel II, who is running for Congress out of Baton Rouge.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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