When I watched the crazy conclusion of the LSU-Auburn game, a feeling of dread came over me. I began fearing for LSU coach Les Miles, though hoping against hope that his job would not be affected.
Unfortunately, that was not the case.
Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired yesterday morning after the Tigers lost to Auburn (also called “Tigers”) 18-13 last Saturday night. As a guy who himself has been canned from jobs in the past, I feel for any professional who loses his/her job – even in the high pressure world of major college sports.
But this kinda hurt me in a way I never thought it would.
Miles is one of my favorite college football coaches (others being Texas’ Charlie Strong and Miami’s Mark Richt).
Miles never took himself too seriously, which is refreshing given the sport is becoming overrun with the Nick Sabans of the world. His entertaining, self-deprecating press conferences where he would drop one one-liner after another. His quirking in-game coaching decisions that earned him the nickname “The Mad Hatter”.
And most of all, dude ate grass, for Christ’s sake!
Unfortunately, all of those “rights” were not enough to overcome the “wrongs” on the football field. After all, it was Miles’ stubbornness that brought about his demise – particularly on offense.
Critics and fans alike hated the way Miles squandered all of the offensive talent he brought into Baton Rouge. Aside from Jamarcus Russell, Miles rarely had QBs who mastered the art of the forward pass.
That was unfortunate, given the talent Miles had at the skill positions during his tenure. Anyone remember that he had guys named Odel Beckham, Jr and Jarvis Landry at wide receiver?
Athletic director Joe Alleva (and the high-powered boosters who orchestrated last year’s coup) wanted Miles to change his offensive approach. But Miles would not relent, and it cost him his job in the end.
Miles is old-school. He loves physical, smash-mouth football. He was all about the “three yards, and a cloud of dust”. He’d rather wear teams down than to spread them out and create points.
And while it did work early in his tenure, Miles refused to adapt to the changing times of the college game – especially when Saban and Alabama evolved offensively and won championships since. And speaking of Saban, it has to suck to not only compete against him in the SEC West year after year, Miles also was the man who REPLACED Saban when he left to coach the Miami Dolphins.
It didn’t matter how well Miles did. He averaged 10 wins per season (114-34 record) and one of five active coaches who has won a national championship (again, one of only FIVE!). Fans will always compare him to Saban, and will be forever looking over their shoulder at what Saban is doing in Alabama.
I know this much, LSU will miss Miles, because they will never know if the grass is greener on the other side. Just ask fans of Nebraska, Michigan, Syracuse and Tennessee.
And something tells me Miles will land on his feet at another major program sooner than later. Is it too early for my alma mater NC State to consider him?