INDIANAPOLIS — Les Miles’ future at LSU looked bleak heading into the final games of the 2015 season, but ultimately Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva stuck with him after the team won its final game against Texas A&M.
For a time, it seemed like it was a near certainty that Miles wouldn’t be retained, but one former Tigers offensive lineman was never concerned about the possibility of LSU firing the coach.
“It really wasn’t because of the fact that we knew we were behind Les Miles,” Vadal Alexander said to a group of reporters at the NFL combine. “We could win and were expected to win the last two games of the season, so we really weren’t worried. We just took it one week at a time and handled our business.”
In what was one of the best moments of the season, the Tigers decided to carry Miles off the field after a 19-7 win over the Aggies on Nov. 28. Alexander said throwing Miles on the team’s shoulder was a spur-of-the-moment decision. He believes how the Tigers community reacted after the game showed how much Miles means to LSU.
“He is a great coach and I think they saw that at the end of the day,” Alexander said. “When we won the game against A&M — the way the crowd reacted, the whole fans, social media and us carrying him off the field — everyone realized what a great man he is.”
Despite the mess of how administrators handled the Miles situation, LSU still finished with the third-best recruiting class in 2016, a testament to Miles’ ability to connect with his players.
“No. 1, he is a great coach and a great mentor to a lot of the guys on the team,” Alexander said. “He can relate to a lot of the guys on the team. You see it in the media sometimes — he’s a funny guy, easy-going. He gets the best out of you.”
Alexander is projected as a second-round pick by various mock drafts.