BATON ROUGE, LA., NOV. 15 -- LSU football coach Mike Archer, 37, in a teary farewell, said today he will resign at the end of the season.

The Tigers (4-5) will play at Mississippi State on Saturday, then meet Tulane Nov. 24 in their traditional season finale.

"What I did is in the best interest of the football team," Archer said during a brief news conference. "It's in my best interest. I need to get on with my life. They need to get on with theirs."

The youngest Division I-A coach when he was hired four years ago, he has a 26-17-1 record in his first head coaching job.

On Wednesday night, Baton Rouge's WBRZ-TV reported he would be fired at the end of the season. "To be a head football coach, you have to recruit," Archer said. "I felt like the report last night has killed recruiting."

He said he decided this morning to resign, then waited until he could tell his team.

"I must emphasize that I was not put under any pressure to resign. . . . We leave here with our heads held high," he said.

Athletic Director Joe Dean said that about six weeks ago he hired a national executive search firm to produce a list of candidates, should that become necessary. He said hiring the firm probably added fuel to the rumors that Archer would be fired.

Archer entered the 1990 season with a team having lost 16 starters, including Tommy Hodson, the Southeastern Conference's most prolific passer.

Dean said Archer's contract, which has two years to go at $88,400 per year, will be honored. Rumors of his ouster began last year after his team went 4-7.