The LSU Tigers fired long-time coach Les Miles, along with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after a 2-2 start to the year. This has left the team looking for a head coach for the first time since 2004. Miles leaves with a 114-34 record at Baton Rogue. While there have been some notable coaches mentioned for the position, including Houston’s Tom Herman, Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and former Baylor head coach Art Briles – where does this leave Les Miles?
Firstly, do I agree with the firing of Les Miles? 100%.
Miles is one of the top coaches in college football and had a bright start to his campaign when he led the Tigers to a National Championship in 2007. However over the last few years, LSU have struggled to keep up with the top college football programs ever since they last competed in the BCS National Championship Game in 2011. It’s a shame that Miles has fallen short of the high expectations set by the board at LSU every year. But I always wonder why a team like the Tigers that is stacked with talent and filled with top recruits every year underwhelms once the college football season starts. Great coaches are those who can not only recruit the talent, but get the most out of them as well. As of right now, I only regard Nick Saban and Urban Meyer as the two best coaches in college football due to their ability to recruit and coach to a high level. In the tier below are guys like Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney, who have been able to change the culture of their programs and have great success. At the other end of the spectrum are coaches who are great recruiters, but on the sideline, sit back and let the players unravel the talent themselves – Al Golden, former Miami Hurricanes coach, and current Tennessee coach Butch Jones comes to mind. For me, Les Miles is right in the middle.
As mentioned earlier, LSU have fallen off since their last National Championship Game in 2011. That year’s team had one of the best defenses in college football with notable players Tyrann Mathieu, Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers, Barkevious Mingo, Eric Reid, Kevin Minter, Bennie Logan and Sam Montgomery, who were all selected in the 2012 and 2013 NFL drafts. However, while the 2016 draft saw 5 Ohio State players picked in the first round, LSU has only had 1 first-round pick since 2014 – Odell Beckham Jr. The 2013 LSU side, which only went 10-3, boasted NFL talent all over the place on offense – Zach Mettenberger at quarterback, Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue as running backs, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry as receivers and La’el Collins and Trai Turner pass protecting. Guys such as Danielle Hunter and Kwon Alexander who were drafted in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the 2015 draft respectively, have been playing phenomenally for their NFL sides so far in their careers, which makes you wonder is Les Miles’ style of coaching slowing down and preventing players from fully breaking out? The Mad Hatter’s failure to evolve with the changing times of college football is what will always put him in a lower tier than his counterpart at Alabama. While Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin as an offensive coordinator, which allowed the Crimson Tide to use a no-huddle, shotgun offense led by a dual-threat true freshman at quarterback, Miles continued to use his smashmouth football mentality, which has allowed defenses to zero in on star running back Leonard Fournette. This has led to Fournette struggling with injury at times this year. Kirk Morrison believes Fournette should start focusing on the NFL with LSU’s season already over, before he gets hurt:
However, LSU wide receiver Travin Dural came out and said that the reason for Miles’ firing was due to players being too focused on their futures. Dural says, “A couple of us might have been looking on to the NFL.” This could be why players under Les Miles’ system tend to thrive in the NFL and not in college ball. Players are looking to get the season over and done with so they can move on.
Last November, it seemed that Miles would be axed following another underwhelming season for the Tigers. However, LSU director of athletics Joe Alleva allowed Miles to see out the rest of the year. Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee believes this was the wrong idea:
I feel that Les Miles’ firing was long overdue. Was it right to do it this early in the season? I think so. Bruce Feldman has the word on why LSU made the move to fire Miles now instead of later in the year:
Due to Miles not evolving, the team’s progress has remained stagnant the last few years. There is a much-needed change at the head coaching position and hopefully interim coach Ed Orgeron can help add some fuel to this side following the firing of an entertaining figure. Orgeron is not a long-term option, which is why I think LSU should go after guys like Tom Herman or Art Briles, two of the best offensive minds in college football, or a guy like Jimbo Fisher, who used to be LSU’s offensive coordinator from 2000-2006. Matt Leinart agrees that a fresh start is needed for LSU football:
So, where does that leave Les Miles? I think that he should continue coaching, just not at a high-profile school that LSU that expects high standards every season. Basketball analyst Jalen Rose believes Les Miles should take his talents to the west coast:
Where does the firing leave LSU in terms of recruiting? LSU had the 4th best class of 2017 and Miles’ firing is sure to leave recruits looking at other schools, unless the Tigers can get a big-name coach to fill the void left behind.
In my opinion, Miles should coach a lower-tier school to help get their program off and running. Whatever school he ends up at could help his chances of landing big recruits, since we know how good he is in that department. Maybe he could look at a Group of 5 school to take him away from the competitiveness of the SEC. A 9-win or 10-win season may be considered a success at most schools, but at LSU, it was seen as a disappointing season. And so it should. Every year, LSU have a national championship-caliber side and should be aiming for higher honours. The firing of Les Miles is a good start.