McClendon and Dietzel: Charles East Papers, Mss. 3471,
Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections,
LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, LA.

Jim Corbett [LSU Athletic Director]. When I became President [of LSU], I told Jim, I said, “Now I want to tell you something. You run that Athletic Department,” but I said, “It sure better be run right, because,” I said, “You know, General [Troy H.] Middleton, I remember him making a statement that if LSU is ever involved in anything that isn’t totally and completely legal, that whoever the coach is involved, I’m going to fire him off the next day.” And I said, “I’ll do the same thing.”

So we didn’t set up a search committee to find a . . . find a head football coach. One Sunday morning, down when I lived on Brame Drive [in Baton Rouge], shortly after I had become . . . had been inaugurated . . . Well, it was before I was inaugurated. Jim Corbett came down to the house and he said, “John . . .” And now in the meantime, [Paul] Dietzel had gone to West Point. He’d hauled off everybody he could haul off with him except Charlie McClendon and maybe one or two other people. And Jim came to me and he said, “John,” he said, “Let’s make Charlie Mac head football coach.” He said, “I’ve struggled with this.” And I said, “Jim, that’s fine.” So at this point we got on the phone from the kitchen and my bedroom and merely called John Doles [John J. Doles, Sr.], who was chairman of the [LSU] Board [of Supervisors] at that time, and said, “John, we want to make Charlie Mac our football coach. But, we got a problem: Kentucky wants him also. So we don’t want to do anything without the Board’s knowing about this thing.” John said to me, he said, “John, you all go ahead.” He said, “I know whatever you all do, is all right with the Board.” But he said, “I’ll call the Board, too.”

Well, of course we get a hold of Charlie Mac and sure enough Kentucky’s board is meeting that afternoon! Well, I knew Frank Dickey, President of the University of Kentucky. I knew him well, so I called him, and I said, “You call him out of the meeting.” And I said, “Frank, are you all considering Charlie Mac as your new head football coach?” He said, “John, we sure are.” And I said, “Well, we’re going to try to keep him from going. I think we would like to keep him here.” He said, “Well, that’s fine with us,” but I said . . . He said, “But he is . . . will probably be elected up here.”

So we called Charlie Mac, and he came over to the house and we . . . never forget this, back in my bedroom, we were sitting there on the edge of the bed and chair and here is Charlie Mac, who all of the sudden realizes, he is not stupid, he knows he is being considered in Kentucky. And all of a sudden here’s this LSU thing. And it was not easy to convince him to come to LSU. A graduate of University of Kentucky, he felt a real strong desire to go back there. Well, I don’t . . . I’ve forgotten how Jim and I did it, but anyhow Charlie Mac finally said, “Well, all right, I’ll do it.” But I said, “Well, first, let’s get your wife down here.”

So we called Dorothy Faye [McClendon] and she came back to our house and in the meantime my wife was off in the kitchen minding her business and wondering what in the heck was going on back in the kitchen . . . back in the bedroom, except she knew we were trying to hire Charlie McClendon. And Dorothy Faye came in and . . . By the way, whatever history shows, I hope they show that she’s one of the loveliest, prettiest, sweetest people that has ever been connected with LSU. She is a marvelous lady. Well, I told her, I said, “Dorothy Faye, we want Charlie Mac to become football coach and we just . . . he has about agreed to do it, but we want your total approval of it also.” And she said, “Well . . .” She always called me Dr. John, and she said, “Dr. John, whatever you all want it is fine with me.” So at this point, we shook hands with Charlie Mac, and said, “Go on about your business, keep your mouth shut, give us a few minutes.” I got on the phone in the kitchen, called John Doles and told him that we had hired McClendon, and we would like to poll the Board to approve our decision. And from the kitchen phone we telephoned every member of the LSU Board and they said, “Well, sure that’s great!” And that was it, and that was it. Then, two hours later Jim Corbett called [Vesta] “Bud” Montet, I believe, down at the [Advocate] newspaper and had a short press conference. Charlie Mac was coach.

-- John Hunter, interviewed by Jack Fiser, 1982