’A great human being’ - Arnsparger’s time at LSU short but impactful

’A great human being’ - Arnsparger’s time at LSU short but impactful
Former LSU head coach Bill Arnsparger (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As someone who attended his first LSU football game in 1987, I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the history of the program that occurred just shortly before.

During this pandemic, it’s been very interesting to learn more about former head coach Bill Arnsparger, who coached the Tigers for just three seasons (1984-86). Arnsparger’s overall record was pretty impressive (26-8-2). He won an SEC Championship and made two appearances in the Sugar Bowl.

Bill Arnsparger remembered as a great coach and human being

Twice during his three seasons in Baton Rouge, Arnsparger was named SEC Coach of the Year. He eventually left LSU to become the new athletic director at Florida following the ’86 campaign but Arnsparger certainly left plenty of talent behind for his replacement, Mike Archer (Arnsparger’s defensive coordinator at LSU), as LSU went 10-1-1 in 1987 (finishing No. 5 in the country) and then won the SEC Championship in 1988.

A look into Arnsparger’s past reflects a man with a vast history and brilliant resume in the NFL - he was part of four different franchises that reached the Super Bowl. As an assistant under the legendary Don Shula, the 1972 Miami Dolphins won it all with their historic and perfect season, before returning to win another Super Bowl the following year. Arnsparger was also part of a Super Bowl berth again with Shula and the Dolphins in 1982, before being part of the San Diego Chargers’ only Super Bowl appearance in 1994.

Long before all of that, he was the defensive coordinator for, you guessed it, Don Shula and the Baltimore Colts squad that reached Super Bowl III and was then shocked by “Broadway” Joe Namath and the 18-point underdog New York Jets in January of 1969. His one head coaching stint in the NFL was also a random misstep, as Arnsparger was just 7-28 overall with the New York Giants from 1974-76 and eventually got fired.

Arnsparger passed away in the summer of 2015. He was 88 years old.

But fortunately for LSU, Arnsparger gave the Tigers three years of winning teams and good times, during a period when the program wasn’t nearly as stable as it is today. Sportscasting veteran Tim Brando, along with former LSU assistant and head coach Mike Archer, and former Tiger players Verge Ausberry, Brian Kinchen, Eddie Fuller, Karl Wilson, Nacho Albergamo, Chris Carrier, Wendell Davis, and Harvey Williams recall their memories and stories of the legendary coach.

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