Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Did Saban bring magic back to LSU? I say DiNardo did. Here's why

Let's get this straight, because people always think that Nick Saban brought LSU to prominence, and I've said this before, but Jerry DiNardo actually brought the magic back for LSU, not Saban. Saban won a national championship, true, (and there's always a rightful influx of blue chippers when that happens) but the talent pool that has fed the Tigers ever since was in place a few years before him and put there by DiNardo. For instance, if you look at the talent of signal callers from DiNardo's tenure:
Josh Booty (who was first-team All-SEC as a sophomore).
Craig Nall (who rotted on the bench under Saban, and transferred to Northwestern State, where he became the first quarterback in school history to surpass 2,000 yards passing in a season.)
and Herb Tyler Who beat out senior Jamie Howard late in his freshman season, and, over his next 31 games as a starter, LSU went 26-5.
I don't know how anyone could say Saban brought the talent. Under Saban, the signal callers were:
Rohan Davey (who didn't get the starting job until the 4th game of Saban's LSU career after Booty got hurt)
Rick Clausen (who later transferred to Tennessee because he couldn't start)
Matt Mauck (who didn't see P.T. until Davey got injured. Threw for 28 TDs in championship season of 2003)
Marcus Randall (who split time with:)
JaMarcus Russell (heavily recruited out of Mobile, and No. 1 draft pick).
I remember in a slugfest with Auburn in 1997, when Tigers wonderback Cecil Collins ran for 232 yards on 27 carries, and Rondell Mealey added 129 yards on just 12 touches (Auburn qb Dameyune Craig torched us for 342 yards in the air, but my point stands). Now, LSU lost, but that's what Saban brought to the table: coaching. But he didn't bring the horses (talent), the horses were already there. The talent DiNardo had stacks up pretty well with Saban's quarterbacks Marcus Randall, the mighty Matt Mauck and even JaMarcus Russell (who left 14 points on the field in every game), but his main man was a Jamaican cat by the name of Rohan Davey. Truth be told, DiNardo didn't like Davey (famous Davey quote:"Nick Saban gave me an opportunity, a chance for a fresh start, and I thank him for that."), but he got him on the squad never the less. And it was Saban who actually gave Davey his shot, but Ole St. Nick didn't recruit Davey, DiNardo did! This same Davey, as a senior in 2001, was the first QB in LSU history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a season (eclipsing Peyton Manning's best-year yardage at Tennessee in 1996).
That same year he threw for 528 yards against Alabama. At Alabama!
Dinardo lasted at LSU from 1994 to 1999, and it was HE, not Satan, that brought LSU back to prominence.
Dinardo did a number of things that Saban didn't have to:
* took over a program that had six straight losing seasons and that hadn't been ranked in the AP Top 25 since 1989.
* revived LSU football; bringing back the tradition of wearing white jerseys during home games
* restored LSU's reputation as an SEC powerhouse, (forcibly moving Tennessee out of the way as second-to-Florida in SEC perennial powerhouses. Florida, by the way, had unseated Alabama a decade earlier).
Saban did have something DiNardo didn't have though: Saban could coach, he could motivate, and he actually adjusted at halftime, something NiNardo never thought to do. So, all in all, Saban is the better coach and has the record and championship to prove it, but pleeeease don't say he brought the talent back to LSU. Saban's most valuable recruit, Matt Mauck, actually followed him from Michigan State. The running back-by-committee around that time: LaBrandon Toefield, Joseph Addai, Justin Vincent, Shyrone Carey were all Sabanites. (Dominick Davis was recruited by DiNardo).
Never the less, it ended badly for DiNardo, who was never largely appreciated in Tigerland, in the midst of a three-win season: On November 15, 1999, two days after LSU lost to unranked Houston in Tiger Stadium, LSU chancellor Mark Emmert canned DiNardo with one game remaining in the season. DiNardo was given the option to coach the game against Arkansas (the Battle for the Golden Boot), but DiNardo declined. Instead, offensive line coach Hal Hunter was named interim coach, leading LSU to a 35-10 victory over the Razorbacks. Nick Saban was named as DiNardo's replacement on November 30, 1999, and guided the Tigers to the 2001 SEC championship with many of DiNardo's recruits in the starting lineup. The rest, as they say, is his story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how's life ? blogger discovered your blog via yahoo but it was hard to find and I see you could have more visitors because there are not so many comments yet. I have discovered site which offer to dramatically increase traffic to your site they claim they managed to get close to 4000 visitors/day using their services you could also get lot more targeted traffic from search engines as you have now. I used their services and got significantly more visitors to my website. Hope this helps :) They offer best services to increase website traffic at this website
To your success James

Related Posts with Thumbnails