In the final stretch of the football season, with the Tigers heading into the National Championship game, it seems a good time to remember LSU’s first National Championship in 1958.
Coach Paul Deitzel led the team to a 10-0 regular season, culminating with a seven to zero win over the Clemson Tigers in a Sugar Bowl worthy of a battle of the big cats.
Going into the 1958 season Coach Deitzel had to figure out how to structure a team with few experienced players. He did so by dividing the team into three groups, explaining himself this way:
“We need reserve strength and we do not have two teams of equal strength both on offense and defense. I have placed the best athletes on [one team] and they play both ways. Consequently, they spend equal time working on both offense and defense. The rest of our top prospects have been divided into teams which feature the particular phase of the game at which they are most proficient. Therefore the best offensive players are members of [another team]. They spend the greater parts of our workouts on offensive specialty. [The third team], our best defenders of this group, spend more time of each workout on defense.”
By focusing on the strengths of the players and being able to switch out teams Deitzel was able to keep his players fresh and use the Tigers’ speed to their advantage. Obviously the strategy paid off!
Come in to Hill Memorial Library and take a look at some of the LSU football resources in our collection like Peter Finney’s The Fighting Tigers 1893-1993: One Hundred Years of LSU Football and No. 1 in the Nation! L.S.U. Tigers 1958’s National Champions, published in Baton Rouge by TIGER FANS.
In the first of our regular LSU trivia question posts, we put this question before you: What are the names of the three teams into which Deitzel separated the 1958 Tigers? Post your answers in the comments, then come back next week to see if you were right!
The photos and quote used in this post were taken from the aforementioned No. 1 in the Nation.