Paul Dietzel, one of the most influential leaders in University of South Carolina athletic department history, died Tuesday at his Baton Rouge, La., home. He was 89.
USC coach Steve Spurrier said he first met Dietzel last year at a function for former Gamecocks players and coaches.
“Coach Dietzel was a heck of a guy, coach,” Spurrier said Tuesday afternoon. “One of the best to coach college football passed away today. He was close to 90 years old, had a wonderful life. So we’re thinking about him, and condolences to his wife (Anne). He had a wonderful life, Coach Dietzel.”
Though best known for guiding LSU to the 1958 national championship, Dietzel was head football coach and athletic director at South Carolina from 1966-74. He led the Gamecocks to the school’s only conference title, the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Dietzel’s Gamecock football record was 42-53-1.
Off the field, he was instrumental in South Carolina’s controversial decision to withdraw from the ACC because of the league’s high academic standards. Dietzel, however, oversaw modernization of the school’s athletic facilities and booster club.
Dietzel also served as head coach at Army – he was the first civilian head coach at West Point – over a long football and administrative career.