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Thursday, June 6, 2013
LSU never afraid of national hire

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Les Miles can't leave his Michigan roots behind, even when dealing with the media.

Try wearing red to a news conference, and he might glare at you and make a reference to "the school down south."

Les Miles
Like many of his predecessors, Les Miles had no ties to LSU or the SEC when he was hired by the Tigers.
Considering that Miles coaches at LSU, which has just one Division I school to its south (Nicholls State, which, coincidentally, does wear red) before hitting the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, that may seem odd. But only if one does not know the context of Miles' allegiance to his alma mater and his lifelong rivalry with Ohio State, a school he still avoids mentioning by name.

That's Miles, a Michigan man to the bone. But he's also LSU's coach which, in the context of the Tigers' hiring history, isn't shocking.

If many SEC schools used to show a regional bias when it came to hiring coaches, LSU's hiring history shows that the Tigers are the exception to that rule. The Tigers haven't had a head coach who graduated from an SEC school since Jerry Stovall, the former LSU All-American who led the Tigers from 1980-83.

Since Stovall, LSU has hired six straight coaches who have graduated from schools outside the SEC. Most only had loose SEC ties as head coaches. Gerry DiNardo (1995-99) had the strongest conference tie as head coach at Vanderbilt, but he was a native New Yorker and Notre Dame grad. Similarly, Curley Hallman was an Alabama native and assistant coach for Bear Bryant, but he played for, and graduated from, Texas A&M and came to LSU after coaching Brett Favre's Southern Miss teams. Most of his coaching career prior to LSU was outside the SEC.

It's not just a recent trend, either. Paul Dietzel, who coached LSU's 1958 national championship team, was part of the Miami (Ohio) coaching tree and came to LSU from Army.

Here's a list of LSU's head coaches since Dietzel, their alma mater and their previous SEC ties, if any (listed by coach, years, alma mater and brief synopsis of career before coming to LSU)