College Football Research


Les Miles Firing

by Big Al

Well, that happened much faster than expected. It seems like LSU would have at least waited until late in the season to fire the man who led them very successfully for 11 years and 4 games. But no, they canned him as soon as they could. I thought they were stupid for trying to force him out last year, but to fire him this early in the season is just plain insane.

I appreciate that Louisiana is fertile recruiting ground and all that, but LSU has traditionally been... okay. They generally aren't bad, but they generally aren't great either. No, Les Miles didn't build it from the ground up, but he kept the beast healthy, strong, and fed for a long time.

I suppose he could have held on longer, except for one thing: the man for whom he took over.

The Nick Saban Problem

That's it, isn't it? Nick Saban. There he is, up in Alabama, winning four national titles in the last seven years. He left LSU to coach in the NFL, then Alabama yanked him back to college (where he always belonged anyway) and now he has the Crimson Tide rolling like the juggernaut they have been throughout their history.

It's one thing to have your girlfriend break up with you. It's another to have her marry your cousin, stay incredibly hot, and turn out to be a great wife and mother who also pulls in a multi-million dollar salary. It would be hard for anyone you are dating to compare anything but poorly.

Unfortunately, LSU can't take some alone time to try to get over Nick Saban... maybe even move away, make some changes, and just start over. They have to have someone. But they are crazy if they think they are going to get someone better than Les Miles.

That Is Seriously Their List?

I've heard some of the names being bandied about and the list clearly shows that LSU is way too puffed up on recent success; success, it should be noted, that Les Miles administered.

Bob Stoops? Urban Meyer? Jimbo Fisher? NICK SABAN?! Did someone slip LSD into their gumbo? Because they are delusional to the point of hallucinating if they think any of those coaches would consider the LSU job.

Yes, fine, Lousisiana does turn out a good number of recruits. But they aren't on the same level as Florida, Texas, California, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. I would actually put Louisiana about the same level as Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, or New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey, the state that turns Wisconsin into a perennial Big Ten contender.

Likewise, clearly LSU's expectations are way too high for what they are: a good enough destination that will always be in the shadow of Alabama. And Texas. And Tennessee. And Georgia, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida and Florida State. And that's just the bordering states and states in their conference footprint.

The best (and hottest) hire right now is Tom Herman, and they will make a run at him. And he may take the job; it is a step up from Houston. However, there is almost no way he could live up to LSU's expectations. They want to be on an even or better footing with Alabama, and that ain't going to happen.

Alabama and the SEC

LSU's biggest problem is that the SEC has returned to what it typically is: Alabama, et al. Alabama is The One Team in the conference. Yes, there are other traditionally good teams in the conference, but none of them compares to Alabama.

Alabama was down for a long time. The other SEC teams needed to make hay while the sun shone. And they did; SEC teams were gathering national championships like it was a conference title (which it pretty much was) after the USC dynasty petered out. Nobody could compare with them. But now Alabama has put them in the shade again. It's going to get chilly for a while.

Could Les Miles have done better? Maybe. But I doubt it. He kept LSU on the national landscape for over a decade. People came to expect LSU to contend for a national title. And that's the problem. Things went back to normal, and LSU thought that recent history was how things would always be. It's hard to accept it when a hot streak runs out; but they always do.

I've seen a lot of teams fire the best coach in their history, and it never ends well. Maybe Les Miles isn't Nick Saban, but he stood toe-to-toe with him and gave as good as he got. LSU is going to be looking back fondly on the Les Miles era before too long. Mind you, in college football terms, that's about a decade or so, but I can pretty well guarantee that's how it's going to be.

Farewell Les Miles, college football is going to miss you. But LSU is going to miss you even more.


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