ENGSTER: Miles bandwagoners jump on

A few issues ago, this space included a letter from an LSU fan in Atlanta. Ben S. didn't care for the direction of the Tiger football program since the arrival of Les Miles as head coach.

The words from B.S. prompted some spirited responses from readers, including one heated phone call from none other than Coach Miles, who thought the sentiments were inappropriate for printing in Tiger Rag.

 

Miles knows in his heart that no independent media outlet has been more in his corner than has Tiger Rag, and for good reason. The man is 22-4 under less-than-favorable conditions. Miles inherited the program from a growing legend in Nick Saban, and the new coach on the block had to deal with the disruption of Hurricane Katrina before his team ever took the field at Death Valley.

 

The letters and e-mails are too numerous to be featured in totality. But here are a few examples of expressions from the pro-Miles camp:

 

 

Hi Jim,

 

Re: The letter you had in your Tiger Rag Column. Please inform "B.S." that Miles has the same, but not better talent than AU, UF, UGA and Tenn … and that LSU is ranked ahead of all of them except UF … Miles has done an excellent job … in fact, he is only the second LSU HC to win at Tennessee.

 

FYI for B.S. … Saban NEVER beat Tuberville at Auburn … In fact, he was 2-3 vs. Tubby … and except for 2003, he averaged three losses per year.

 

Bob F.

Birmingham, AL

 

 

Jim,

 

What a way to end the season, eh? Really enjoyed your column in TR this last issue. I wish you would follow up on that by imploring the people of LA to hop on the Miles bandwagon now and stop this incessant Saban worshipping. I intended to write this before recent developments. Now that both men have proven their character, that will be any easy sell … Tell BS to get the hell out of the SEC and be a Notre Dame or OU fan … I'll take the last two years over any program in the country. These jerks don't know what's good for them and need to remember how bad it was throughout the 90's.

 

I am serving in Iraq. I am a member of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. I have the honor of providing our brave troops with gyms to workout in, a pool to swim in and a rec room and internet/phone café to communicate back home. I am in Al Asad in the western Anbar province. I would be honored for you to reprint my letter. I wear my LSU colors daily at the gym. My late father, Rev. Carl Seal, had us boys in front of the radio on Sat. nights listening to the Tigers on WWL radio. Keep the good columns coming. I leave the Tiger Rag out for the troops to read.

 

Jim Seal

Al Asad, Iraq

 

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After the completion of bowl competition, Florida State's Bobby Bowden leads Penn State's Joe Paterno 366-363 in the race to finish as the winningest coach in major college football history.

 

Bowden is 77 years old and Paterno is either 80 or 82, depending on the biography. Both men will be hard pressed to surpass Grambling's Eddie Robinson, who racked up 408 wins in 56 seasons as boss of the G-Men.

 

Either Bowden or Paterno will set a record that will be difficult to eclipse by any NCAA Division I mentor. But if Paul Dietzel had not bolted LSU for Army, Tall Paul might have set the all-time record for victories at LSU.

 

Anyone who has seen Dietzel lately can attest that he remains movie-star handsome and exudes robust health. At 82, Dietzel is in the same age range as Paterno, and if the man from Ohio had stayed at the Ole War Skule as he promised, LSU might never have experienced the eras of McClendon, Rein, Stovall, Arnsparger, Archer, Hallman, DiNardo, Hunter, Saban and Miles.

 

Ten LSU coaches have succeeded Dietzel, who recorded 46 victories in seven seasons, highlighted by the 1958 national title and a No. 3 final ranking in 1961.  The post-Dietzel head men have combined for 331 victories in 45 seasons.

 

If Dietzel had merely maintained the pace of his predecessors, he would have accumulated 377 wins – or 11 more than Bowden has scored at FSU.  And it's hard to imagine Dietzel posting a 25-41 record from 1989-94 as LSU did under Mike Archer and Curley Hallman.

 

It's not unreasonable to imagine Paul Dietzel entering his 53rd season as LSU's coach and reigning as the game's biggest winner if he had not left TigerTown for West Point in 1962. 

 

Dietzel considered making a comeback at LSU after Bo Rein's plane crashed and killed the coach and pilot Louis Benscotter 27 years ago this month. In the end, Dietzel opted to remain a full-time athletic director and turn the program over to Jerry Stovall. Two years later, the athletic director was canned after LSU's 3-7-1 debacle on the gridiron in 1981.

 

When Nick Saban abruptly departed for the Miami Dolphins two years ago, athletic director Skip Bertman was reportedly contacted by a Dietzel relative, who urged Bertman to bring back the Tigers' 1958 leader at the age of 80. Bertman took the inquiry seriously but settled on another man from the Midwest to direct the Tigers.

 

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Jim Engster is the general manager of Louisiana Network and Tiger Rag. Reach him at jim@la-net.net.


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