It’s no secret that LSU administrators struggled while deciding what to do with coach Les Miles at the end of this season. There were weeks of speculation by fans, players and media before athletic director Joe Alleva appeared after LSU’s 19-7 win over Texas A&M and announced, “Les Miles will remain the football coach at LSU.”
But emails uncovered by TheAdvocate.com tell the story of what exactly went on behind the curtains in Baton Rouge, La.
Just past 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, — the day of the Texas A&M game — Alleva received an email from an LSU staffer with a draft of the speech he would give at the press conference after the game, which kicked off at 6:30.
“Updated draft,” read its subject line. “I should be in the office at approx. 3 p.m. and can make any edits and give you a hard copy.”
Two weeks prior, after the Tigers 31-14 loss to Arkansas, Board of Supervisors member Blake Chatelain — who chairs the LSU athletics committee — sent a one-sentence email to the athletic director.
“How much longer do we have on his contract?” Chatelain asked.
After LSU lost to Ole Miss 38-17, Chatelain sent Alleva another email.
“Can you scan me a copy of his contract?” it read.
That week, Alleva emailed strength and conditioning coach Tommy Moffitt to get a read on the players’ attitude and how they were performing in practice.
“They worked really, really well,” Moffitt said, according to The Advocate. “Everyone was on time and ready to go but were very quiet, almost silent.”
But while the players had become reserved, fans were growing more vocal. Toward the end of the season, Alleva was receiving multiple messages from fans, pleading with the athletic director to fire Miles.
“Run downstairs and fire Les NOW!!!” one demanded during the Ole Miss loss.
“Can we please fire our clown coach at halftime?” asked another.
The board members weren’t as straightforward, but they were debating Miles’ fate via email as well.
“All of us are refraining from any public comment on the Les Miles matter, as we each in different ways, mull this complicated matter over in our minds,” board member Stephen Perry wrote, according to The Advocate. “I know we each are mulling it over as fans, as members of the board, as lovers of LSU and as stewards of the institution. This is so difficult.”
Chatelain wrote back with a list of questions the board needed to ponder, but ultimately deferred to Alleva and LSU President F. King Alexander.
“(A)s a result of that loss, a firestorm has erupted, not coming from the LSU camp, but from fans, the media, the pundits,” he wrote. “Speculation is rampant and every (T)iger fan in (Louisiana) is talking about this.”
As the process dragged on, Alleva began to receive more emails from LSU fans, but this time, they were calling for his head
“Good afternoon, Mr. Alleva,” one began. “I am a LSU alum writing to express my extreme displeasure at the way you have handled this entire situation regarding Coach Miles. Your silence and overall in-action during the press barrage is creating a problematic environment… I truly hope that the school administration recognizes your incompetence and fires you.”
Another was far more blunt.
“This should be your job on the line,” they wrote.
Deciding to keep Miles was certainly a divisive topic, but the process itself certainly didn’t help Alleva’s image.