Charles McClendon

Charles Youmans McClendon (October 17, 1923 – December 6, 2001), also known as "Cholly Mac", was an American football player and coach. He served at the head coach at Louisiana State University from 1962 to 1979. McClendon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.[1]

Charles McClendon
Biographical details
Born(1923-10-17)October 17, 1923
Lewisville, Arkansas
DiedDecember 6, 2001(2001-12-06) (aged 78)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1952Vanderbilt (assistant)
1953–1961LSU (assistant)
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
1 SEC (1970)
AFCA Coach of the Year (1970)
Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (1992)
SEC Coach of the Year (1969, 1970)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1986 (profile)

Early years

McClendon was born on October 17, 1923 in Lewisville, Arkansas. He played college football under Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky.

Coaching career

McClendon's first coaching job was as an assistant at Vanderbilt University in 1952. In 1953, he came to LSU as an assistant under head coach Gaynell Tinsley. He was retained as an assistant when Paul Dietzel took over the team in 1955. In 1958, McClendon helped Dietzel coach LSU to its first recognized national championship. At the end of the 1961 season, Dietzel left for Army and picked McClendon to be his successor.[2]

During his first 12 years (1962–1973), McClendon coached the Tigers to nine appearances in the final AP Poll, with an average rank of 9.22. During this time, LSU's record was 97–32–5 (.724 winning percentage) and LSU went to two Sugar Bowls (1965 and 1968), two Cotton Bowl Classics (1963 and 1966), and two Orange Bowls (1971 and 1974). LSU won nine games in five consecutive seasons from 1969 to 1973, but during that stretch won only one Southeastern Conference championship (1970) and one bowl game in four visits, the 1971 Sun Bowl versus Iowa State.

In 1964, LSU defeated arch-rival Ole Miss 10-9 through an unexpected two-point conversion attempt. At first McClendon did not realize his team had made the conversion until he heard the roar of the Tigers' fans.[3]

In 1969, LSU was 9–1 and ranked fifth at the end of the regular season, but when the Cotton Bowl Classic denied the Tigers a match-up with top-ranked and undefeated Texas, LSU refused invitations by the Bluebonnet Bowl and Liberty Bowl, instead opting to stay home. Tiger fans suspected the culprit for the Cotton Bowl Classic snub was the decision by Notre Dame to lift its self-imposed bowl ban and participate in post-season play for the first time since 1925. When the Irish opted to return to the bowl scene, the Cotton Bowl Classic snapped up Notre Dame. The seething antipathy between LSU and Notre Dame boiled over into a two-year series between the schools in 1970 and 1971, in which the home team won each game, Notre Dame in 1970 and LSU in 1971.

Despite all of LSU's success during this period, the Tigers only had a 4–7–1 record against Ole Miss and a 2–14 record against Bear Bryant's Alabama Crimson Tide. 1970 was the only year in which McClendon beat both Ole Miss and Alabama in the same season. Not coincidentally, this was the only year that a McClendon-coached team won an SEC title; his Tigers finished undefeated and untied in SEC play for the first time since 1961, Dietzel's final season. McClendon was awarded AFCA Coach of the Year honors, but the Tigers lost the 1971 Orange Bowl to eventual national champion Nebraska.

McClendon's tenure crested in 1973. The Tigers raced out to a 9-0 record, but lost to Alabama 21-7–a loss that cost that Tigers an SEC title. A week later, they were shut out at Tulane 14-0, their first loss to the Green Wave since 1948. They then lost to Penn State in the Orange Bowl. During McClendon's last six seasons at LSU (1974–1979), LSU had no appearances in the final AP Poll and compiled a record of 38–29–2 (.551 winning percentage). This included McClendon's only two non-winning records at LSU–a 5-5-1 record in 1974 followed by a 5-6 record in 1975. The latter was LSU's first losing season since 1957.

The Tigers rebounded to a 7-3-1 record in 1976. Despite this, former LSU great Billy Cannon began campaigning for McClendon to be fired. Cannon was angered that a number of Louisiana high school stars, most notably Terry Bradshaw, passed on LSU during McClendon's tenure. In response, the LSU Board of Supervisors gave McClendon the option of resigning immediately and being paid for the remaining four years of his contract, or leave at the end of the 1978 season. McClendon opted to stay. Before the 1978 season, Dietzel returned to LSU as athletic director and persuaded the Board of Supervisors to let McClendon stay in 1979. McClendon was due to become president of the American Football Coaches Association, and Dietzel didn't want to embarrass McClendon by firing him that year.[4]

The Tigers lost to Tulane in 1979, but that was followed by a 34–10 victory over Wake Forest in the Tangerine Bowl, McClendon's final game at LSU.

In addition to owning the longest tenure in LSU football coaching history (18 seasons), McClendon holds the program records for most wins (137, including two forfeits to LSU), most losses (59), and most bowl losses (6, tied with Les Miles).

Later years

After his retirement from LSU, McClendon became the executive director of the Tangerine Bowl, now renamed the Citrus Bowl, from 1980 to 1981. He was also the president of the American Football Coaches Association in 1979 and executive director from 1982 to 1994. The Charles McClendon Practice Facility at LSU was named in his honor on September 9, 2002, nine months after his death on December 6, 2001. His death came just two days before LSU won its first outright SEC title in 15 years.

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall ConferenceStanding Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
LSU Tigers (Southeastern Conference) (1962–1979)
1962 LSU 9–1–15–13rdW Cotton87
1963 LSU 7–44–25thL Bluebonnet
1964 LSU 8–2–14–2–14thW Sugar77
1965 LSU 8–33–3T–6thW Cotton148
1966 LSU 5–4–12–36th
1967 LSU 7–3–13–2–16thW Sugar
1968 LSU 8–32–2T–6thW Peach19
1969 LSU 9–14–12nd710
1970 LSU 9–35–01stL Orange67
1971 LSU 9–33–26thW Sun1011
1972 LSU 9–2–14–2–14thL Astro-Bluebonnet1011
1973 LSU 9–35–12ndL Orange1413
1974 LSU 5–5–12–49th
1975 LSU 5–61–59th
1976 LSU 7–3–12–4T–7th
1977 LSU 8–44–2T–3rdL Sun
1978 LSU 8–43–3T–4thL Liberty
1979 LSU 7–54–2T–3rdW Tangerine
LSU: 137–59–760–41–3
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

See also


  1. "Charlie "Cholly Mac" McClendon". College Football Hall of Fame. Football Foundation. Retrieved 2010-04-13.
  2. "LSU Year-by-Year Records" (PDF). p. 107. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  3. Chet Hilburn, The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football (Bloomington, Indiana: WestBow Press, 2012), p. 42
  4. Kindred, Paul (1979-11-11). "LSU Takes a Page From a Shabby Book on Ambition". The Washington Post.
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