Fun with Data: A Look at LSU Football Historically

This Saturday LSU takes on Wisconsin in Lambeau field to open up the 2016 season. Due to my excitement, I decided to take a look at some of the LSU historical data for fun. First let’s take a look at the season by season win percentages of LSU football since 1893 to get a general idea on the program’s history. This data came from Wiki.


The dark purple points represent seasons which resulted in a conference championship (SIAA, SoConn and SEC) and the yellow points mark the three seasons (1958, 2003, 2007) when LSU secured a national championship. In all three of these seasons, LSU also won their conference championship-a feat that Bama cannot claim for all their national titles.

The horizontal black line here represents the overall mean win percentage of the program of .65. LSU’s past two coaches Les Miles and Nick Saban have dipped under this line 3 times, with Les’ seasons coming in 2014 and 2008.

There are a few things we should note about this graphic before moving on. The season with a 0.00 % wasn’t a season at all, this was 1918 and the season was cancelled due to World War I. Another season (not shown here) was the inaugural season in 1883, which was only one game and resulted in a loss. So in seasons where LSU played multiple games, they have always won at least one game. (Bama lost all their games twice and after taking out the forfeited games due to NCAA violations, they lost all their games in 2005 and 2006, for example). Since 1920, LSU has only had one perfect season during which they won their first title in 1958. LSU was on one of their two downswings before this title, with the other coming in the late 80’s-early 90’s.

Let’s take a look at the same graph, but separated by coaching tenure.


Here we can see the win percentages of each coaching tenure since joining the SEC. In order they are:

Biff Jones, Bernie Moore, Gaynell Tinsley, Paul Dietzel, Charles McClendon, Jerry Stovall, Bill Arnsparger, Mike Archer, Curley Hallman, Gerry DiNardo, Gerry DiNardo/Hal Hunter (DiNardo was fired before the final game), Nick Saban and Les Miles.

Only one of these coaches did not post a season winning percentage greater than the LSU average (.65) which was Cruley Hallman. Biff Jones and Bill Arnsparger coached only seasons that had better records than the historical average. Below we can see a summary of the information in the graphic.


Les Miles may have saved his job by a thread last season, but he has the highest win percentage (followed by Bill Arnsparger) since LSU joined the SEC. However, he has yet to add one accolade to his resume, a perfect season. (2011 was close!) Maybe this will be the year.

Geaux Tigers!

-Andrew  G Chapple


2 thoughts on “Fun with Data: A Look at LSU Football Historically

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