ENGSTER: Miles proving his Tigers best ever

After four starts this season, Les Miles has reason to believe he has the best collection of athletes ever assembled by any LSU football coach.

The Tigers have throttled four legitimate foes by a combined score of 155-23.


The Tigers may not have another game this season as close as the 28-16 decision over South Carolina last Saturday. Expectations for Miles and Co. are in the stratosphere for good reason.


LSU has had one unblemished season since the SEC started in 1933. The year was 1958, and Billy Cannon and Paul Dietzel remain larger than life despite the toll that time has taken on the 70-year-old Cannon and the 83-year-old Dietzel. They are royalty in Baton Rouge.


As magnificent as the '58 team was, LSU had some close calls—notably a 10-7 squeaker over Florida and a 7-6 verdict over Mississippi State. The unit captured the national title by edging Clemson by a 7-0 score. LSU was 11-0 in '58, but not invincible. The Tigers scored 282 points and surrendered 55 for an average margin of 26-5. Through four games in '07, LSU is prevailing by a 39-6 average.


The 2007 LSU team may be untouchable in the same way the 1972 Southern Cal and 1995 Nebraska teams were. In '72, USC went 12-0 and outpointed the dozen victims by a tally of 467-124—an average margin of victory of 39-10. The closest call for John McKay's Trojans was a 30-21 triumph over Stanford at Palo Alto.


The 1995 Nebraska club of Tom Osborne battered the opposition by a count of 638-174 en route to a 12-0 season, which was capped by a 62-24 thrashing of Florida and Steve Spurrier in the Fiesta Bowl. A 35-21 win over Washington State was the closest game for the Cornhuskers in the '95 campaign.


Over a two-year period in 1994-95, Nebraska collected two NCAA crowns, posting a 25-0 record and outscoring its foes by a margin of 1097-326—an average victory of 44-13. The '95 squad endures as the gold standard for college football as Osborne's crew pummeled foes by an average score of 53-15.


It appears LSU fields a defense superior to both USC in '72 and Nebraska in '95, and the Tiger offense has the talent to mature as the season progresses. Miles will know much more about his team after the Oct. 6 date versus Florida, but it looks like the Tigers are in a different league than the rest of the SEC.




Former LSU offensive line coach Jeff Jagodzinski is off to an unbeaten start in his rookie season as head coach at Boston College. The 43-year-old Jagodzinksi served as an offensive line coach under Mike Archer at LSU in 1987-88 as the Tigers went 18-5-1 and earned a share of the SEC title in '88. Jag's pupils included standouts Nacho Albergamo and Eric Andolsek.


Most recently, Jagodzinski was offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers. He also served as an assistant at East Carolina from 1989-96 and with Boston College in 1997-98.

Jagodzinski played his college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater where he started three years at fullback.


An item not mentioned in his biography at BC is that the Golden Eagles coach was a roommate of Tiger Rag founder, publisher and former editor Steve Myers when Jag coached at LSU. At the time, Myers was attending LSU's law school and operating Tiger Rag.




Paul Byrd has surpassed his former LSU teammate Ben McDonald as the most prolific major league pitcher produced by the Tigers. The 36-year-old Louisville native has a 97-79 mark in 13 major league seasons with the Mets, Braves, Phillies, Royals, Angels and Indians. McDonald finished with a career record of 78-70.


Byrd is 15-6 with Cleveland this season as the Tribe reigns as a division winner in the American League. The veteran right-hander is receiving $7 million this season and has earned more than $25 million in his career (McDonald earned over $16 million with the Orioles and Brewers between 1990-97). Appropriately, Byrd boasts an economics degree from LSU in 1991. 


Paul underwent major surgery on his pitching arm after the 2002 season when he became the first hurler in the majors since 1951 to post 17 wins on a team that lost 100 games.


Byrd's 17 victories for the Royals that season accounted for 27 percent of the team total.

Byrd holds the LSU single-season record of 17 wins. He went 17-6 for Skip Bertman's 1990 team that finished third nationally with a 54-19 ledger. Byrd accounted for 31.5 percent of that team's victories. A year later, Bertman piloted the Tigers to the first of five College World Series championships.




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

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