Les Miles has recaptured the throne at LSU
It’s now hard to envision a scenario in which Les Miles — at his current success rate — gets fired from LSU.
I’m far from a Star Wars zealot, but Obi-Wan Kenobi would be proud of Miles’ newly enhanced stance within the Baton Rouge, La. community: If you should strike me down, I will come back even more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
Those famous words are completely apropos for Miles’ situation, in the wake of his behind-the-scenes maneuver to remain the Tigers coach. For roughly six days leading up to LSU’s regular-season finale against Texas A&M, the college football world was buzzing over the news of Miles’ impending dismissal, despite one BCS national championship (2007 season), two SEC titles (2007, 2010) and 138 victories over 11 seasons (highest winning percentage among modern-day LSU coaches).
And if you saw just a fraction of the TV coverage devoted to Texas A&M versus LSU on Saturday night — Miles emotionally tipping his hat to the Tigers faithful or singing the school fight song for the SEC Network cameras — you would have been convinced the personable coach had completed his time with the program.
But then, at the proverbial 11th hour, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva emerged from a week of radio silence and (begrudgingly?) announced that Miles would continue as head coach — eliciting more joy than angst throughout the state of Louisiana.
And why not? Miles has carved a wonderful legacy at LSU since 2005, coming on the heels of Saban bolting from the Tigers for NFL riches a decade ago (before re-entering the SEC mix in 2007). Seven campaigns of 10-plus wins, three victories over Saban (while he was with Alabama) and a perpetual pipeline of blue-chip athletes roaming the campus.
(At last count, 40 LSU alums are playing in the NFL — the highest tally of any school.)
Simply put, we’re talking about one of the most palatable win-win situations of this century, relative to college sports. And yet, someone connected with the LSU program — either a university regent or deep-pocketed booster — had apparently grown weary of Miles beating everyone on a regular basis. Except maybe Saban, to whom Miles has five straight losses, including the BCS national championship in January 2012.
But none of that matters today, as Miles has recaptured that aura of invincibility within the Tigers program, meaning he’s essentially guaranteed to keep his gig for the foreseeable future — barring any major NCAA sanctions or, even worse, a 6-6 season (gasp!), which might include defeats to Vanderbilt, Missouri, Kentucky, Jacksonville State or South Alabama.
Just don’t expect that meltdown to occur in 2016. The Tigers should have a top-10 team in next year’s preseason polls, a Heisman front-runner in tailback Leonard Fournette, a large cluster of returning starters and perhaps the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class.
Oh, and as part of mollifying everyone’s obsession with Saban (cue Dr. Phil saying, ‘How’s that working for you?’) … LSU has Alabama at home next November.