Mike Archer answers reporters’ questions as N.C. State’s defensive coordinator

Former LSU Head Coach Mike Archer has been Tom O’Brien’s defensive coordinator at N.C. State since O’Brien arrived in Raleigh, N.C., in 2007. The 59-year-old Archer has worked for an impressive list of head coaches including Howard Schnellenberger, Bill Arnsparger, George Welsh, Bill Curry, Bill Cowher, Rich Brooks and O’Brien.

But at 34 years old, Archer was the youngest head football coach in the nation when he took the LSU reigns in 1987 after Arnsparger left to become Florida’s athletic director. Archer was LSU’s defensive coordinator from 1985-1986 and was Arnsparger’s hand-picked successor after the players lobbied for him, getting the job over the likes of Steve Spurrier, whom Arnsparger would later hire at Florida.

The Bayou Bengals played in two Sugar Bowls in Arnsparger’s three years as head coach from 1984-1986, the first Sugar Bowl appearances for LSU since 1968. The pressure was on the new young head coach to continue LSU’s success.

After his playing days at Miami (Fla.), Archer stayed at his alma mater and coached under Howard Schnellenberger, winning the National Championship in 1983. He left for LSU the following year with the 58-year-old Arnsparger, who served as defensive coordinator for Don Shula’s Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins teams for the better part of 20 years.

Archer before the Gator Bowl against 9th-ranked South Carolina

Archer quickly continued LSU’s mid-’80s success with a 10-1-1 season in 1987, losing only to Alabama and tying Ohio State. The 7th-ranked Tigers defeated 9th-ranked South Carolina, which wouldn’t become an SEC member for another five years, in the Gator Bowl 30-13. LSU followed up with an SEC Championship in 1988, a title it shared with Auburn at 6-1 in conference. The Bayou Bengals defeated Auburn 7-6 in the famous “Earthquake Game,” in which the roar of the Baton Rouge crowd registered on a campus seismograph as LSU scored the go-ahead touchdown, but Sugar Bowl representatives chose Auburn as the higher ranked team. LSU finished 8-4 overall, losing to Syracuse 23-10 in the Hall of Fame Bowl (now the Outback Bowl).

Archer was forced out after two losing seasons in 1989-1990, finishing 27-18-1 overall. He hasn’t been a head coach since.

Prior to N.C. State, Archer served his second stint at Kentucky from 2003-2006 as Rich Brooks’ defensive coordinator after his first under Bill Curry from 1993-1995 as assistant head coach. Friday, he’s tasked with tackling Kentucky’s old nemesis Tennessee.