It was unlike anything I’d ever seen at LSU. It was a campus seemingly full of Tiger fans with nothing, but love for their head coach. It was a mob of media and cameras following Les Miles down “Victory Hill.” It was a crowd ready to explode for every step Miles took Saturday.
It was a pre-game curtain call that rivaled some of the loudest cheers in Tiger Stadium. It was the perfect ending to the Les Miles era with the Mad Hatter being carried off the field on his team’s shoulders. Except it’s not the end of this wild ride led by Les for 11 seasons and counting.
It was probably all of the above that helped form LSU athletic director Joe Alleva’s decision to keep Miles as head coach.
Reports buried Miles all week and it didn’t help that Alleva and the university remained silent while “boosters” behind the scenes, among others, leaked information to anyone who would listen that Miles could be gone as soon as today.
After the scene Saturday, to fire Miles would only bring more heat to the LSU administration that handled this situation so poorly in the last few weeks.
What Miles brings to the job is heart and loyalty unlike any other. Say what you want about the man and his questionable coaching at times, but he’s been true to the purple and gold for 11 full seasons, all while maintaining a higher level of success than most.
That being said, the last few weeks serve as the ultimate warning shot for Miles. This isn’t his first time sliding off the hot seat, but it’s certainly the closest he’s come to clearing out his office. Change has to come, especially offensively. Miles said after the game they wouldn’t have a “serious overhaul” because the motor, Leonard Fournette, is already “pretty stinking strong,” but he likely won’t survive another year of stagnant offense. The 2016 season could be “do or die,” even after the drama of this weekend.
Either way, you’ve never been more entertained by a football coach. As frustrating as it can be to watch the “toss dive” into a wall of linemen or a quarterback fail to complete ten passes or reach the 100-yard mark, it’s equally fun to watch fake field goals, funny clapping, ridiculous post-game quotes that can alter the mood in an instant and an usually dominant run game punish opponents into submission.
The Tigers haven’t been themselves lately, but with the vast amount of youthful talent returning for another year, and another top recruiting class on the way to Baton Rouge, it’s fair to say Miles gets at least one more shot to fix things. His players say they can’t imagine this program without Les, and for now, they won’t have to.
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