Dale wasn't a great coach but he was a great motivator.
I don't think that's quite fair.
He was a great coach in some ways, for some styles of play, and for some types of "freak" defenses. I don't think any other coach in America could have won some of the games he did with the players he had.
He just wasn't able to adjust to some of the newer elements of big time basketball. Also, he was always at war with referees and the NCAA. Many of his criticisms were valid, and certainly the refs did gift games to other teams (such as Indiana in '87, when they consistently allowed outrageous moving picks).
Dale's downfall was that he was just too obstinate. Rather than find another way to win with Shaq as a center, he insisted on keeping the same offensive plan so he could wage a PR campaign against the way referees let other teams beat LSU with the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. It's nice to defend Shaq and all, but damn, come on, Dale. It would have been nice if LSU didn't woefully underperform during the Shaq years, but they did, which is ironic considering all Dale accomplished in the late 70's & 80's.
When you look at the season before Shaq arrived, and the season after Shaq left, his presence really had almost no effect on the team's success. His only SEC title in 1991 was followed by a 1-and-done in the NCAA Tourney. It says volumes that LSU was more or less the same quality of team with Ricky Blanton (who was really a shooting guard) or Geert Hammink at center as with Shaquille O'Neal.
This post was edited on 1/26 at 5:06 am