Bill Arnsparger, who was one of the top defensive minds in professional football and a former head football coach at LSU in the mid-1980s, passed away on Friday at the age of 88 at his home in Athens, Alabama. While at LSU, he compiled an overall record of 26-8-2.
After Miami University, he would coach at four other colleges.
Bill Arnsparger was LSU’s head coach for three seasons. After three seasons (which included a pair of Sugar Bowl berths), Arnsparger became the A.D.at Florida, eventually bringing Steve Spurrier to Gainesville, and Arnsparger then finished his career with a three-year stint in San Diego from 1992 to 1994.
Funeral services will be held in his hometown of Paris, Kentucky.
That season, as Shula turned the Dolphins into a playoff team, the Colts won Super Bowl V with, essentially, Arnsparger’s defense. He returned after being fired during the 1976 season, and he left the Dolphins again in 1984 to become head coach at LSU.
From the book “The Fighting Tigers” by Peter Finney, Arnsparger said at his first press conference: “We’re working to win the conference championship and the national championship”. He then re-joined Shula in Miami, where he stayed through 1983 and was the architect of Miami’s “Killer Bs” defense of the early 80s. He coached Tulane from 1961-1963.
Arnsparger was best known, however, as a defensive mastermind who served as the defensive coordinator for Don Shula’s undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins.
This lasting impression from Arnsparger would play a major role in how LeBeau would go on to transform the way defense is played in the NFL, on his way to coaching two Super Bowl champions and some of the greatest players in the league during his 13 years with the Steelers.
Arnsparger is survived by his wife, BJ, a son (David) and daughter Mary Susan.