LSU Tigers football
2020 LSU Tigers football team
LSU Athletics logo.svg
First season1893
Athletic directorScott Woodward
Head coachEd Orgeron
4th season, 40–9 (.816)
StadiumTiger Stadium
(Capacity: 102,321)
Field surfaceGrass
LocationBaton Rouge, Louisiana
ConferenceSoutheastern Conference
DivisionWestern
Past conferencesSIAA (1893–1922)
SoCon (1923–1932)
All-time record812–415–47 (.656)
Bowl record29–23–1 (.557)
Playoff appearances1 (2019)
Playoff record2–0 (1.000)
Claimed national titles4 (1958, 2003, 2007, 2019)
Unclaimed national titles5 (1908, 1935, 1936, 1962, 2011)
Conference titles16 (12 SEC, 3 SIAA, 1 SoCon)
Division titles9
RivalriesAlabama (rivalry)
Arkansas (rivalry)
Auburn (rivalry)
Florida (rivalry)
Mississippi State (rivalry)
Ole Miss (rivalry)
Texas A&M (rivalry)
Tulane (rivalry)
Heisman winners2 (Billy Cannon, Joe Burrow)
Consensus All-Americans39[1][2]
Current uniform
LSU uniforms.png
ColorsPurple and Gold[3]
         
Fight songFight for LSU
MascotMike the Tiger
Marching bandLouisiana State University Tiger Marching Band
WebsiteLSUsports.net

The LSU Tigers football program, also known as the Fighting Tigers, represents Louisiana State University in college football. The Tigers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

LSU ranks 16th most in victories in NCAA Division I FBS history and claims four National Championships (1958, 2003, 2007, and 2019), 16 conference championships, and 39 consensus All-Americans. As of the beginning of the 2018 NFL season, 40 former LSU players were on active rosters in the NFL, the second most of any college program.[4]

The team plays in Tiger Stadium, and Ed Orgeron is the head coach.

History

1800s (1893–1899)

Louisiana State University (LSU) played its first football game in school history on November 25, 1893, losing to rival Tulane in the first intercollegiate contest in Louisiana. The game sparked a rivalry between the Tigers and the Green Wave that has lasted generations. The Tigers were coached by university professor Dr. Charles E. Coates, known for his work in the chemistry of sugar. Future Louisiana governor Ruffin G. Pleasant was the quarterback and captain of the LSU team. In the first game against Tulane, LSU football players wore purple and gold ribbons on their uniforms. According to legend, purple and gold were chosen because they were Mardi Gras colors, and the green was sold out.[n 1] The rules of play in 1893 were more like rugby than what might be considered modern football.

LSU achieved its first victory by beating Natchez Athletic Club 26–0 in 1894. Samuel Marmaduke Dinwidie Clark has the honor of scoring the very first touchdown in LSU history. The first football game played on the LSU campus was at State Field on December 3, 1894, a loss against Mississippi. LSU's only touchdown in that game was scored by the head coach, Albert Simmons.[6] This was the first year of play for William S. Slaughter who lettered as an end for 5 years (1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898). Slaughter was LSU's first five time football letterman. By 1895, LSU had its first win in Baton Rouge.

The 1896 team

The 1896 team was the first to be called the "Tigers" and went undefeated, winning the school's first conference championship in the school's first year as a member of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA), the first southern athletics conference.[7] Coach Allen Jeardeau returned for his second but final year at LSU in 1897 for two games in Baton Rouge. A yellow fever outbreak throughout the South caused the postponement of LSU's classes starting, and the football season being cut back to only two games.

Another outbreak of yellow fever similar to the one in 1897 caused LSU to play only one game in 1898. By the time LSU was able to play its only game of the season, Allen Jeardeau had departed from the school as head football coach, and no provision had been made to replace him. The job of coach then fell to the team's captain, Edmond Chavanne. New coach John P. Gregg led the Tigers to a 1–4 season in 1899, including a loss to the "iron men" of Sewanee. The only wins were in an exhibition game against a high school team—which LSU does not officially record as a win—and against rival, Tulane.

Building the program (1900–1934)

Chavanne was rehired in 1900, posting a 2–2 record. He was replaced by W. S. Borland as head coach in 1901, who led the team to a successful 5–1 season. After a 22–2 loss to Tulane, LSU protested to the SIAA and alleged that Tulane had used a professional player during the game. Several months later, the SIAA ruled the game an 11–0 forfeit in favor of LSU.[8] The seven-game 1902 season was the longest yet for the Tigers and also featured the most games on the road. The 1903 season broke the previous season's record, with nine games. Dan A. Killian coached the team from 1904 to 1906. Running back René A. Messa made the All-Southern team in 1904.

1907 LSU Tigers Football Team in Havana, Cuba for the 1907 Bacardi Bowl

Edgar Wingard coached the team in 1907 and 1908. In 1907, LSU became the first American college football team to play on foreign soil in the 1907 Bacardi Bowl against the University of Havana on Christmas Day in Havana, Cuba. LSU won 56–0. John Seip ran back a 67-yard punt return.

The 1908 team posted an undefeated 10–0 record. Quarterback Doc Fenton led the nation in scoring with 132 points. He threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Mike Lally in the win over Auburn.[9] The National Championship Foundation retroactively awarded 1908 LSU the national championship though it is not claimed by LSU. This season also led to an SIAA championship; but was clouded by accusations of professionalism from rival school Tulane.[10] Auburn and Vanderbilt were among those listed as alternative conference champions.

1910 was a disastrous year for the Tigers. After a strong 1909 campaign which saw their only conference loss come to SIAA champion Sewanee, the team lost some star power with Lally, Seip, and center Robert L. Stovall all graduating.[11] In 1912, coach Pat Dwyer developed a "kangaroo play" in which back Lawrence Dupont would crawl between offensive lineman Tom Dutton's legs; supposedly very effective in short yardage situations.[12] Fullback Alf Reid made the All-Southern team in 1913.[13]

LSU's largest loss margin came on October 31, 1914 in a game against Texas A&M in Dallas, Texas. In 1916, three coaches led the team for parts of the season. The coaches were E. T. MacDonnell, Irving Pray, and College Football Hall of Fame coach Dana X. Bible. Due to World War I, no games were scheduled or played for the 1918 season by LSU. Pray also served as head coach full seasons in 1919 and 1922, compiling a total record of 11–9 at LSU. In 1923, Mike Donahue left Auburn to become the seventeenth head football coach at LSU. 1924 saw the first game played at the newly built Tiger Stadium, with an original seating capacity of 12,000. Donahue retired after the 1927 season. Vanderbilt coach Dan McGugin recommended Russ Cohen for the LSU coaching job, which he accepted in 1928.[14] That season, offensive tackle Jess Tinsley made the All-Southern team. In 1931 LSU played its first night game in Tiger Stadium, a 31–0 victory over Spring Hill.[15] In Biff Jones' first season as head coach, the 1932 team tied for the Southern Conference championship in its last season as a member of the conference. The season included a five-game winning streak in which LSU outscored its opponents by a combined 162–0.[16]

Moore and Tinsley era (1935–1954)

Under head coach Bernie Moore, LSU won their first Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship finishing with a 5–0 conference record and 9–2–0 overall in 1935. LSU played in their first Sugar Bowl game, falling to #4 TCU 3–2 at Tulane Stadium. The Tigers and Horned Frogs both took home the Williamson Poll national championship, which is not claimed by LSU. The team was led by Abe Mickal and Gaynell Tinsley, cousin of Jess. The 1936 team won the school's second SEC Championship finishing with a 6-0 conference record and 9–1–1 overall. The Tigers finished runner-up to Minnesota in the AP Poll. LSU won the Williamson Poll and Sagarin Ratings national championships, which are not claimed by the school. LSU's largest margin of victory, and most points scored in a football game came on November 21, in a game at Tiger Stadium against USL (University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). The final score was LSU 93, USL 0. The 1937 team featured Ken Kavanaugh and was upset by Vanderbilt using a hidden ball trick, the school's first-ever victory over a ranked opponent.[17]

Paul Dietzel

The 1946 team played in one of the most notable instances of the Cotton Bowl Classic – "Ice Bowl." LSU, led by head coach Moore and quarterback Y. A. Tittle, entered the game against Arkansas with a 9–1 record. Ice, sleet and snow pelted the stadium as LSU players filled oil drums with charcoal and started fires for makeshift heaters while fans built fires in the stands. LSU dominated the game with a 271–54 advantage in total yards and 15–1 advantage in first downs, but that didn't equate to the numbers on the scoreboard. The game ended in a scoreless tie and LSU finished the season 9–1–1.

Paul Dietzel era (1955–1961)

In 1955, Paul Dietzel became the head coach at LSU.[18] During Dietzel's first three years, none of his teams had a winning season. In 1958, however, Dietzel came up with a unique "three-platoon system." Instead of replacing individual players during the game, Dietzel would bring in an entirely new set of players between plays and series. The three teams were called the White Team (the first-string offense and defense), the Go Team (the second-string offense), and the Chinese Bandits (the second-string defense). The system worked, as the 1958 team won the school's first claimed national championship, beating No. 12 Clemson 7–0 in the Sugar Bowl. The only score was a pass from Billy Cannon to sophomore Mickey Mangham, one of the smallest players on the team.

Billy Cannon

Cannon won the Heisman Trophy in 1959. On Halloween, late in the game between No. 1 LSU and No. 3 Ole Miss, LSU was trailing 3–0. Cannon returned a punt 89 yards for a TD, breaking seven tackles. This has become known as Cannon's Halloween Run. The Rebels then drove down the field but were stopped on the LSU 1-yard line as the game ended resulting in a 7–3 victory for LSU in Tiger Stadium. In the Sugar Bowl, one of the most anticipated rematches in college football history took place. This game, however, would not be the classic that transpired only weeks before. Ole Miss dominated the game from start to finish and came away with a decisive 21–0 win over the Tigers. LSU finished the season having only given up 29 points.

Charles McClendon era (1962–1979)

In the 1966 Cotton Bowl, unranked LSU upset undefeated and #2 ranked Arkansas, winning the game 14–7 and snapping Arkansas' 22-game winning streak.

LSU-Tulane, 1973

In 1972, No. 6 LSU survived an upset bid from unranked Ole Miss in Tiger Stadium by winning the game on a TD pass from QB Bert Jones to RB Brad Davis. Ole Miss fans say the 1972 contest featured a few seconds of free football. The Tigers trailed the Rebels 16–10 with four seconds to play. After a lengthy incompletion by Jones, the game clock still showed one second remaining. The Tigers used the precious second to win the game on the "last play," 17–16. A song was written to commemorate the game, called "One Second Blues", (track #11) which is featured on the CD "Hey Fightin' Tigers". The alleged home-clock advantage inspired a sign at the Louisiana state line (as you left Mississippi) reading, "You are now entering Louisiana. Set your clocks back four seconds."

Stovall, Arnsparger, Archer, and Hallman (1980–1994)

LSU defeated Alabama 20–10 in Birmingham, Alabama in what was Bear Bryant's last game coaching against LSU, in 1982. LSU's defense held Alabama to 119 yards of total offense,[19] as the Tigers defeated the Tide for the first time since 1970.[20] Later that week, LSU's defensive front seven of Melancon and Joiner (OLBs); Richardson and Williams (ILBs); and Marshall, Elko and Dardar (DL) were named the "Associated Press Sportswriters' Defensive Player of the Week." It was the first time an entire front-seven unit was so named.[citation needed]

In 1988, unranked LSU staged a near-literal, earth-shattering upset victory over No. 4 Auburn in Tiger Stadium, winning the game 7–6 with 1:41 remaining on a touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Hodson to running back Eddie Fuller. The reaction of the crowd was so immense that it registered as an earthquake on a seismograph in LSU's Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex.[21] It has been dubbed the "Earthquake Game."[22]

Gerry Dinardo era (1995–1999)

Wearing its white jerseys at home in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1982, LSU upset No. 5 Auburn in 1995, winning the game 12–6 as LSU DB Troy Twillie intercepted Auburn QB Patrick Nix's 11-yard pass into the end zone with no time remaining. This game marked a return to national significance in just head coach Gerry DiNardo's first season.

After nine straight losses to Steve Spurrier-led Florida, the No. 14 Tigers shocked the No. 1-ranked defending national champion Gators 28–21 in Tiger Stadium in 1997, making the cover of Sports Illustrated. It was the first time LSU beat a No. 1 ranked team and the first time the goalposts were ever torn down in Tiger Stadium.[23]

Nick Saban era (2000–2004)

2004 Sugar Bowl, LSU 21 - Oklahoma 14

In head coach Nick Saban's first season of 2000, LSU returned to national prominence by beating No. 11 Tennessee in overtime 38–31 on ESPN, after which the goal posts were torn down for only the second time in the history of Tiger Stadium. The victory over Tennessee also marked the first time that LSU played in an overtime game at home. Just a few weeks later, the goal posts were again ripped down as LSU beat Alabama 30–28 on CBS in Baton Rouge for the first time in 31 years. This was the third and final time that the goal posts came down in Death Valley. In 2001, No. 21 LSU staged an upset victory over No. 2 Tennessee in the SEC Championship, winning 31–20. The victory earned LSU a spot in its first Sugar Bowl since 1986, and knocked the Volunteers out of national title contention. No. 16 LSU survived an upset bid from unranked Kentucky in 2002 by winning the game 33–30 on a 75-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired known as the "Bluegrass Miracle." Kentucky coach Guy Morriss had received the traditional Gatorade bath right before the Hail Mary. Kentucky fans, believing they had won, had already rushed the field and torn down one goal post.

In 2003, No. 11 LSU outlasted No. 7 Georgia, 17–10. With ESPN College Gameday on hand for the first time since 1997, Quarterback Matt Mauck found wide receiver Skyler Green for a 34-yard touchdown with 3:03 remaining in the game. All-American cornerback Corey Webster sealed the victory with an interception in the final minute. LSU won its second title and became the BCS national champion by defeating Oklahoma and their highly touted Heisman Quarterback, Jason White, 21–14 in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.

Les Miles era (2005–2016)

In Les Miles's first season as LSU head coach, the Tigers home opener against Arizona State was moved to Sun Devil Stadium due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina.[24] With one end zone painted with "www.KatrinaSRF.com" and the other with "Together We Stand" along with logos of the states of Louisiana and Arizona, LSU rallied in the fourth quarter for a 35–31 comeback victory.

2008 BCS National Championship Game, LSU 38 – Ohio State 24

No. 2 LSU played what was hyped as one of the most exciting games ever played in Tiger Stadium against No. 9 Florida in 2007. The game is also known for the LSU students leaving thousands of messages on the phone of Florida quarterback, Tim Tebow, prompting him to give a "telephone" hand gesture to the LSU student section following an early touchdown. Florida began the fourth quarter with a 24–14 lead, but behind solid defense and being a perfect 5 for 5 on fourth down conversions, the Tigers were able to take the lead 28–24 with 1:06 left in the game after a Jacob Hester touchdown to defeat the Gators. It was LSU's first national primetime game on CBS since 1981. LSU went on to defeat No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS national championship 38–24, becoming the first school to win two BCS national championship titles and improving their BCS record to 4–0, the best of any team. They also became the first two-loss team to ever play in the BCS national championship.

Alabama-LSU, 2011

The ninth regulation game of the 2011 season for LSU found the number 1 nationally ranked Tigers against the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a match called "The Game of the Century"[25] or the "Matchup of the Year".[26] Both teams were undefeated and both were also coming off a bye week; viewed as important to the BCS Championship Game as the "inside track" by many of the sportswriters, the press built up the game in a Super Bowl-style atmosphere. Ultimately, the game came down to field position and a series of field goals as the top-ranked defenses of both teams prevented any touchdowns. Alabama missed three field goals and a fourth was blocked during regulation, leading to a 6–6 tie heading into overtime. On the first possession of overtime, Alabama again missed a field goal from 52 yards out, only to watch LSU earn the win on the next possession with a chip-shot field goal. As a result, it was the second-lowest scoring match-up between number 1 and number 2 teams in the history of the NCAA, with a 9–6 decision.[27] For the first time in BCS National Championship history, two SEC teams, number 1 LSU and number 2 Alabama again faced each other in the National Championship Game. Alabama won the game, 21–0. The SEC-only title game added impetus to the push for a national playoff system and hastened the death of the BCS system as implemented up to that time.[28]

On September 25, 2016, Miles was fired after losing to the Auburn Tigers as quarterback Danny Etling failed to snap the ball before time expired which negated what would have been the game winning touchdown pass to wide receiver DJ Chark. Ed Orgeron was named interim head coach.[29] Miles compiled a win–loss record of 114–34 (.770) with LSU.

Ed Orgeron era (2016–present)

Ed Orgeron was named permanent head coach on November 26, 2016. In 2017, Ed Orgeron's first full season as head coach, LSU compiled a record of 9–4 overall and 6–2 in the SEC.[30] Orgeron's tenure as permanent head coach began with a rocky start as an early home loss to non-conference opponent, Troy, sparked national criticism. Orgeron then followed this with a home victory against the 10th ranked Auburn Tigers which reduced some of the media discussion regarding Orgeron being on the hot seat. LSU finished the season with a loss in the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame.

In his second season, Orgeron finished with a record of 10–3 overall and 5–3 in the SEC. The team won a New Year's Six bowl game defeating the UCF Knights in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. In the 2019 season, Orgeron coached the Tigers to an undefeated regular season. This included LSU's first win against Alabama since 2011 to break an eight-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide, and guaranteed the Tigers a spot in the 2019 SEC Championship Game against Georgia, in which they were victorious, 37-10. The SEC Championship Game victory secured LSU's spot as the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. In the playoffs, LSU first defeated No. 4 seed Oklahoma in the semi-final matchup and followed it up with a victory over #3 seed Clemson in the national title game to secure the 2019 National Championship. Ed Orgeron became the third consecutive LSU head coach to win a national championship and, just as his predecessor Les Miles had done, won the title in his third year as head coach.

Conference affiliations

LSU has been independent and affiliated with three conferences.[31]:181–196[inconsistent]