Former USC football coach Paul Dietzel passes away - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Paul Dietzel, only coach to lead USC to football conference championship, dies at 89

Paul Dietzel (Source: WAFB) Paul Dietzel (Source: WAFB)

Paul Dietzel, the only head football coach to lead the Gamecocks to a conference championship, is dead at 89.

Friends and family said Coach Dietzel's passing on Tuesday morning was very peaceful. His son, Steve, and two grandsons were by his side.

Dietzel, who also served at the school's athletic director, coached nine seasons at the University of South Carolina from 1966-1974. During his tenure, he posted a 42-53-1 record.

Despite a losing record, Dietzel led the Gamecocks to the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship with a 6-0 mark in the conference. He was named ACC Coach of the Year in 1969.

Former players, like quarterback and current color-commentator Tommy Suggs, say that Dietzel changed the culture of Gamecock sports.

"From a facilities standpoint, he had great vision to take us to another level," said Suggs. "He raised money. He understood you had to have money to build things. He felt our program had great potential and wanted to the be first in doing things out there, which I think was also good."

The current fight song is based on a Broadway tune called Step to the Rear, Dietzel brought the song to USC in the late 1960's.

He initiated the upgrade plan for all athletic facilities, including "The Roost" athletic dorm and enlarging the football stadium. He is credited with writing the Carolina Fight Song, which is still used today. He mandated the recruitment of black athletes in all sports at Carolina and signed the first black athlete to a football scholarship in 1970.  In addition, he hired Bobby Richardson, a move that vaulted South Carolina into national baseball prominence.

Prior to his stint at USC, Dietzel coached at Army and LSU.

He coached LSU to its first modern day national championship in 1958. It was Dietzel who thought up uniforms of yellow gold helmets and pants and white jerseys with purple numerals and stripes.

After a five-year-run as LSU's athletic director that ended in 1978, he and his wife, Anne, remained in Baton Rouge, as Dietzel tapped into other talents. He was in demand as a motivational speaker and had a passion for painting.

In 2008, Dietzel released a book titled: "Call Me Coach: A Life in College Football."

In 2012, the former coach was inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame.

Gamecock Nation lost another coach earlier this month. Dr. Warren Giese, who was also 89, passed away on September 12.

Sign a card for Coach Dietzel here:

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved. WAFB contributed to this report.

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