TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban and Les Miles had some epic battles as head coaches.
There was the “Game of the Century” in 2011 when Miles’ LSU Tigers outlasted Saban’s Crimson Tide for a 9-6 overtime victory. Months later, Saban and Alabama got revenge on Miles and LSU in a 21-0 national championship victory.
One of the SEC’s most heated rivalries is over as LSU fired Miles four games into the season on Sunday.
Miles compiled a 114-34 overall record and won the national title in 2007. Since the start of the 2013 season, LSU finished 15-11 against SEC opponents.
“First of all, Les Miles is one of the most respected colleagues in terms of the rivalry that we’ve had, the competition that we’ve had, the great teams that they’ve had,” Saban said Monday. “I kind of hated that a man wins a national championship, wins two SEC titles and doesn’t make it through the season. It is what it is, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for Les Miles and what he was able to accomplish there, the number of wins he had. This is very similar to Georgia firing Mark Richt when he averages 10 wins a season.
“I guess this is the time that we live in, everybody needs to know that, but it doesn’t minimize to any degree the amount of respect that I have for the job that Les Miles did at LSU, the great competitive teams that he’s had there for a long, long time and the amount of success that he’s had. And certainly wish him and his family well.”
Saban and Alabama won the last five games over Miles and LSU, including that 2011 national championship game.
Through no fault of his own, Saban has developed a reputation as a coach killer. Saban’s success of winning four national championship and four SEC titles at Alabama has raised the level of expectations for coaches in the SEC and the country.
It’s what many in the national media pointed to when Georgia got rid of Mark Richt. The same things are being said now that Miles is out at LSU.
Saban said it’s “not really for me to say one way or the other” when asked for his thoughts on that notion.
“We feel fortunate to have the kind of team here that we have at Alabama, that’s created an atmosphere and environment where our players have a chance to be successful personally, academically and athletically and I think we’ve created a lot of value for our players,” Saban said. “Because of that we’ve had some really, really good players. Those guys have competed well and played well. We’ve had some great coaches. Because of the team that we have – from our administration to our athletic administration to the players and coaches that we have – all those things contribute.
“It’s not just about who the head coach is. I think that’s why we’ve been successful. It’s a challenge for us to continue to try to be successful. I can’t really comment on anybody else’s standard for what they want to try to accomplish or what they want to try to do.”