If his comments Wednesday were any indication, LSU’s offensive game plan isn’t the only thing Les Miles thinks is in need of a shake-up.
After LSU’s 2017 football schedule was announced Tuesday night, the LSU football coach was asked his thoughts on the Tigers’ next slate of opponents on his Wednesday radio show. This question opened Miles up to not just compliment the strengths of the SEC, but also to wax poetic about how it could be even better.
“I think the SEC has always been a place where if you didn’t like competition, you need not show up,” Miles said. “(But) you want to see all the conference opponents. It’d be nice if we could rotate through.”
SEC teams currently play eight conference games per season: the other six schools in their division, their permanent cross-division rival and an eighth team from the other division based on a predetermined rotation. In LSU’s case, this means games against Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Florida every year, plus a random SEC East team, this year’s being Missouri.
But in Miles’ opinion, it might be better for the conference to play more cross-division games. As he explained, it would give the players opportunities to experience more stadiums and see parts of the country they maybe wouldn’t have. That said, Miles also explained that he wants to preserve traditional rivalries, and wouldn’t want to compromise the Tigers’ yearly tilt against Florida, for example, to make this happen.
Miles says he wishes LSU could see places they don't get to visit in East such as Missouri and Vandy. I'll bet, man.
— Alex Hickey (@bigahickey) September 15, 2016
The Tigers would almost certainly be better off if they had the opportunity to face teams from the SEC East more often. Since Miles arrived in Baton Rouge in 2005, LSU is 15-7 against the SEC East in the regular season, outscoring its opponents 614-463 in those games. This includes an impressive 7-4 record against Florida and an 8-3 record the rest of the East. LSU has not lost a game to an East opponent since a 2013 loss to Georgia and hasn’t been beaten by more than 10 points since a loss to eventual-national champion Florida in 2008.
Even before the Les Miles era, this discrepancy was noticeable. Against the six other teams in the SEC West, LSU holds a winning percentage of 55 percent, while the Tigers have won 57 percent of their contests against the East. Even more impressively, LSU has won nearly 75 percent of the more than 100 contests it has played against Kentucky, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Maybe Miles is right. Maybe the schedule should be shaken up just to get the players out in the world a little more. But if history is any indicator, a scheduling change might also just come with a few more LSU wins along the way.