Les Miles has been the coach at LSU since 2005. Since he has been at LSU, the Tigers have won one title and have always been in the hunt for the SEC title. Heading into this season, he was coaching one of the best players in America. Sophomore running back Leonard Fournette is a powerful running back that many felt Miles would use to lead this team on a potential title run. The Tigers started the season 7-0 and looked to be in great position to make it to the title game. But after seven wins and a bye week, the Tigers faced Alabama. Fournette would be held in check by the Alabama defense and the Crimson Tide would go on to beat LSU 30-16. The Tigers would go on to lose two more games versus Arkansas and Ole Miss leading to a three-game losing streak. The Tigers had fallen from title contenders to a team in a freefall. As the losses happened, the whispers began to get louder and louder in regards to the safety of Les Miles’ job. The whispers got even louder this week when the reports began to come out that Miles said to the Gridiron Club there at LSU that Saturday’s game versus Texas A&M would be the last game Miles coached at home. Miles has since denied that he said anything like that and there have been conflicting reports from various news outlets saying he is gone and that he is staying. We may not know the true answer for some time. But what can be said unequivocally is the Tigers better be careful if they are to get rid of Miles.
Miles has some of the entertaining news conferences that we have seen in college football. His goofiness in press conferences has led to a lot of laughs. But aside from that, Miles has been highly successful at LSU. Since he has been there at LSU, Miles has a record of 110-32. The reason Miles is on the hot seat right now is the slippage of the team the last couple of seasons. Last year, the Tigers ended up losing in the Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tennessee) as they finished fourth in the SEC West. This season, they failed to meet the expectations that many had and that has angered some boosters and fans of this team. But needless to say, replacing a coach that has won at this clip is not as easy as it seems. For example, Tennessee had a predicament even worse than this one. Coach Phillip Fulmer had been a Tennessee life on the sidelines. As an assistant coach and head coach, Fulmer had been roaming the sidelines for the Vols since 1980. And before he was a coach, Fulmer was a player for the Vols from 1968-1971. Fulmer was essentially the face of the University of Tennessee football program. And behind him, the Vols won a National Title, 2 SEC titles and 6 SEC Eastern Division titles. Fulmer had eight wins or more every year he was the head coach up until the 2005 season. In that season, Fulmer went 5-6 and there was some rumblings at that point that he was losing the specialness there. The Vols would rebound and have two seasons of 9 wins or more, but in 2008, the Vols struggled again. The noise got louder and louder and the administration, under the leadership of new athletic director Mike Hamilton, fired Fulmer. Some Vols fans loved the move while others hated it. The prevailing thought from some that loved the move was that it was time to move forward and the program needed a new voice. Well, the Vols tried Lane Kiffin and Derrick Dooley before settling on their current head coach Butch Jones. And with Jones, the Vols will be going to a bowl game in consecutive years and along with a chance to win nine games for the first time since 2007. The move that some thought was needed actually was one that was not thought through at all. And because of that, it set back the program for a long time. Even though LSU is more talented than Tennessee was at the dismissal of Fulmer, the team could still have some hiccups transitioning to a new coach. And that would be something that could cause for some unrest down in Baton Rouge. Is that something the Tigers really want to chance if they don’t have a star coach to put in place of Miles? We shall indeed see.
If LSU really thinks about this one, they may want to sit down with Miles and ask for a few things. Miles is a great recruiter and also has added super-recruiter Ed Orgeron to this staff this year. They currently have a top recruiting class heading into the 2016 season. But the issue with this team has always been the offense. Every year we see a team that can run the football, but have issues throwing the football. The result ends up being teams stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run and the Tigers not having the quarterback to make the opponents pay. Miles needs to find a better offensive coordinator and do so immediately. Cam Cameron seemingly has either regressed as a coordinator or Miles is asking him to call a conservative predictable game. Either way, if Miles is to stay, he must do something with the offense and do it now. Along with making a change of philosophy offensively, Miles also may want to put a priority on developing a quarterback. It seems they always get talents, but they never develop them for the most part. And because of the lack of development of quarterbacks along with the offensive philosophy, it makes things hard on their running game and their defense. And with the departure of John Chavis unceremoniously to Texas A&M, the defense is not the same as well.
Les Miles is going through a tough spot and some of the criticism is warranted. But with the level of success he has had at LSU, he deserves the chance to right the ship. If they Tigers are to let him go, they risk damaging the current number one recruiting class in the country. The Tigers also take the risk that the new coach will be able to have the same success as Miles. We shall see what happens, but LSU definitely has some things to think about. And if this was Miles’ last home game as coach of the Tigers, he went out in style as his players carried him off the field.