This might be a bit of a rant, so bear with me.
What a ride it’s been for LSU and Les Miles. It’s seen it’s fair share of ups and downs, but with way more downs than ups recently, I think it’s time for LSU to move on from Miles at the end of the season and find their next head coach.
I cannot say I’m a life-long fan of the Bayou Bengals, but since my enrollment at LSU, I’ve followed this team’s every move and experienced every part of the emotional roller-coaster that is LSU football fandom. At times, it has been incredibly difficult at times to be a fan of this team. You truly have no idea what LSU team is going to show up on Saturdays.
Since the 2011 National Championship Game loss, LSU hasn’t been a superior football team despite consistently having the most players in the NFL from a single school. As that last fact shows, Les Miles can recruit with the best of them.
Since 2012, LSU has had recruiting class rankings of #14 (severely underrated), #6, #2, #6, and #3. With all of that talent, LSU and Miles have managed to make some decent bowl games but haven’t had a single SEC Championship Game appearance.
Why haven’t these recruiting classes resulted in more than a Chick-Fil-A Bowl appearance? That has been the question I ask myself after practically every LSU loss. We have had some of the best talent in the nation, but the team always seems so out-of-sync and one dimensional.
Since 2011 (and I’m sure before then), LSU’s quarterback has been pretty abysmal, outside of Zach Mettenberger in 2013, who was throwing to stud receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
You cannot win the National Championship with a bad quarterback. Since 2011, every championship team has either had a dynamic quarterback or someone who can manage the game and put enough points on the scoreboard to stay in games. LSU has rarely had that throughout the tenure of Miles in Baton Rouge. Whether that is a flaw in recruiting, offensive scheme, or player progression, that falls on Miles and his offensive coordinator.
Speaking of offensive scheme, this is another area that has put Les Miles on the hot seat, and deservedly so. When Miles took over in 2005, the college football world was still not completely infatuated by the spread offense. If you’ve watched a few football games within the last ten years, you can see that things have changed. Somehow, Les has yet to get the memo, and teams have taken notice.
We’re no longer in an era of ground and pound. Having a diverse offense is a must at this level of football and it’s something LSU lacks. A great example of this is LSU’s 2015 season. Leonard Fournette had one of the best seasons by a running back in NCAA history. LSU started 7-0 and Fournette was a lock for the Heisman. LSU made it through cupcake teams and a lower-tier SEC schedule without a blemish, but then had to face the four best teams they would play all season.
Things didn’t end well. LSU went 1-3 in their last four games and Fournette was dropped from the Heisman race in the blink of an eye. The reason for this? Miles refuses to mix up his offense and sticks with the run game. Of course, if you have a player like Fournette, you need to feed him the ball. But when that is your entire offense you’ll see teams start selling out to the run. Teams loaded eight or nine players in the box, practically begging Miles to let the quarterback beat them through the air, because they knew he couldn’t.
Miles somehow survived being fired in 2015. He was given one more chance to prove he was worthy. Everything seemed like it was going to go his way, too. He had two key players forgo the NFL draft. LSU was returning 18 out of 22 starters. The Tigers had a favorable schedule, including Alabama and Ole Miss at home. He still had LEONARD FOURNETTE. Multiple sports writers picked LSU to earn a spot in the playoffs, and some had them winning it all. Miles couldn’t possibly screw this up, right?
After a 2-2 start to the season, I think I speak for 98% of LSU fans when I say I’ve had enough. Les Miles is an incredible guy and he’s easy to root for because of that, but being a nice guy does not win you football games. Having consistent top ten recruiting classes does not win you football games. He has been given every chance to switch up the offense and adapt to the new college football era and has yet to do so.
I’ve been holding back on wanting to get rid of Miles for a few reasons. It’s not easy to get rid of someone who has brought LSU so much success including over 100 wins, multiple SEC Championship game and National Championship appearances, and a tons of memories. After seeing how Texas and Nebraska have fared, it also scares me to see how firing a legendary coach will effect the program.
But at this point, I’m willing to sacrifice those things for the possibility of winning more than the Texas Bowl. With LSU being one of the top football schools in the country, I know they will get one of the best head coaches on the market (hopefully Tom Herman). It’ll be interesting to see where AD Joe Alleva takes this situation. Regardless of what happens in the meantime, it needs to end with a respectful farewell to Miles.