ENGSTER: Tigers nab rare win over Florida

With Saturday's 21-17 whipping of Florida, LSU has topped the Gators for two straight years for the first time since 1986-87. The Bengals beat Florida 28-17 in 1986 at Gainesville in Bill Arnsparger's last season, then edged Florida 13-10 in '87 in Mike Archer's debut season on the sidelines.

From 1988-2003, Florida was 14-2 vs. LSU and outscored the Tigers 482-207. The average margin of victory for the Gators was 30-13. Les Miles can cherish his victory over Florida. He is now the first LSU mentor since Charles McClendon with a winning record against the men from Gainesville.

LSU is 44-11 since the start of the 2001 campaign. USC is 48-9 since '01, but the Trojans are 46-4 in their last 50 games and 39-1 in their last 40 contests.

Dale Brown turns 70 on Nick Saban's 54th birthday. It happens to be Halloween, the date for the most famous play in LSU football history, Bill Cannon's 89-yard punt return to beat Ole Miss, 7-3, in 1959. Brown has been actively assisting hurricane victims since Katrina and Rita rammed his adopted state in the past seven weeks.

Not bad for a man who suffered a near fatal stroke two years ago. Brown's energy remains boundless, and his compassion is contagious. Brown has been out of coaching for more than eight years, but his impact on basketball the Bayou State is everlasting.

Brown's ninth year at Tigertown was his best. His team went 31-5 and posted a 17-1 SEC mark en route to the Final Four in Philadelphia. It will be a tough act for Brady to follow in Baton Rouge. His troops must win 26 consecutive games this season for Brady to keep pace with Brown in his ninth year on the bench at the Assembly Center.

Monday, October 17th, marked the 82nd anniversary of the birth of Charles McClendon in Lewisville, Ark. It's been 26 years since LSU's late mentor guided the Tigers, but McClendon is far and away LSU's biggest gridiron winner with 135 victories (discounting two forfeits by Mississippi State).

Remarkably, the five winningest coaches at SEC schools over the past half-century were coaching in the league at the same time from 1964-70. Alabama had Bear Bryant, who posted 292 of his triumphs at SEC locations; Georgia's boss was Vince Dooley, who guided the Bulldogs to 201 victories in a quarter century; Ole Miss was led by Johnny Vaught, who retired with 190 wins at Oxford; Auburn was directed by Ralph "Shug" Jordan, whose 25-year span on the plains included 175 wins.

McClendon's teams thrived during the glory age for coaches in the SEC. LSU posted a Sugar Bowl wins over Syracuse and Wyoming and whipped Arkansas in the 1966 Cotton Bowl, spoiling the Razorbacks' bid for a national title. McClendon also piloted the Tigers a league championship in 1970 and fielded his best team in 1969. LSU went 9-1 with the only blemish a 26-23 setback at Ole Miss.

During the 1964-70 period, the records of the SEC coaching legends were:

Bear Bryant 58-16-2

Charles McClendon 54-19-3

Vince Dooley 48-23-4

Johnny Vaught 48-26-3

Shug Jordan 45-28-1

Ironically, the best record for an SEC power in the 1964-70 span was almost produced by Tennessee. The Volunteers of Doug Dickey and Bill Battle went 57-16-4 while Florida under Ray Graves and Doug Dickey was 53-21-2.

From 1964-70, McClendon's teams included some of the best performers in LSU history. The roster featured Bert Jones, Tommy Casanova, Doug Moreau, Mike Anderson, Ronnie Estay and George Bevan. The golden age for SEC football leaders occurred in the last decade of all white football in the league. Only Vince Dooley achieved more success after the influx of African-American athletes in the SEC.

McClendon's final years were highlighted by LSU's first 1,000 per season rushers in Terry Robiskie and Charles Alexander, who still holds the single season mark for rushing with 1,686 yards. Black athletes currently hold all LSU records for rushing, passing and receiving for single game and single season yardage.

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Jim Engster is the station manager for WRKF-FM in Baton Rouge and the host of "The Jim Engster Show." Contact him by e-mail at jim@wrkf.org.

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