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Acadiana Diary: 1956 UL grid staff turnover was talk of town

Acadiana Diary: 1956 UL grid staff turnover was talk of town

Acadiana Diary: 1956 UL grid staff turnover was talk of town

The town was buzzing this week 50 years ago, after SLI President Joel Fletcher fired not only the football coach, but his entire staff and the athletic director.

Gen. Charles Doran, the athletic director, and head football coach Ray Didier and his assistants Charles Pevey and Gay Keller were given the heave-ho because Fletcher said he "realized that the coaching staff here has not kept up with the progress of the rest of the college."

Fletcher had wanted to do it quietly, but somebody called The Advertiser and the word got out.

"I had intended quietly to work all of this out to the best interests of everyone concerned," he said, in a statement once the news got out. "However, since some of those involved have seen fit to give out statements, I feel that I must clarify my position."

He offered Doran a job as head of traffic and security on campus and Didier a job in the physical education department, if he wanted it. The assistants had to go, to give a new coach a "free hand," Fletcher said.

He said he had "several excellent men with fine training for this type of work" under consideration.

Didier coached six seasons, 1951-56, with his best season being his first, when SLI went 6-4. His record for the entire six years was 29-27-2. His last season was close to disaster with big losses to in-state rivals Southeastern (42-0), Northeastern (45-19), Louisiana Tech (33-6), Louisiana College (34-14) and Northwestern (38-19). The saving grace was that SLI beat arch-rival McNeese 35-33 in the final game of the year.

Fletcher hired John Robert Bell to coach the team in 1957, but Bell only stayed one year, going 4-5-1.

Jim "Red" Hoggatt was the next coach. He went 1-8 in 1958, 4-5 in 1959 and 6-4 and was out in 1960.

Russ Faulkinberry came on board next and coached 13 years, compiling a record of 66 wins, 62 losses and two ties. That makes him the winningest coach in UL history.

His 1970 team may have been his best. That year, the team went 9-2 to earn a berth in the Grantland Rice Bowl, in which the team lost by a single point, 26-25, to a talented Tennessee State team destined to have 13 players sign as professionals, including quarterback "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam and defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

Jim Bradshaw’s Acadiana Diary appears Sundays in The Advertiser. Contact him at 289-6315 or e-mail jbradshaw@theadvertiser.com.