by Eric Fulton
In a sport like college football, “win now or else” has seriously become a big deal. One conference that seems to have an arms race year-in-and-year-out is the Southeastern Conference (SEC). This conference is the perfect example of teams and coaches needing to win right now or else they will be gone. The SEC has become the high standard of college football over the past 10 years. They have had at least one team make the national championship in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in the last eight years. Every week there seems to be five to seven teams that make the national top 25 polls from this conference.
Les Miles, head coach of the LSU Tigers is known as one of the best coaches in all of college football. He has led LSU to a national championship and the Tigers are always contenders for an SEC and national championship. While he has had success in his 11 years in Baton Rouge, he has yet to conquer one goal: Beat Alabama and former LSU head coach Nick Saban.
Though Miles is 110-32 at LSU, he is only 5-7 against Alabama and Saban. Don’t get me wrong, LSU has a great football tradition. But it isn’t the tradition that the University of Alabama is, where they have won 15 national championships. Saban has three of his own, including beating Miles and the Tigers. In 12 games overall against Alabama, Miles is 5-7, which is under .500, but it is better than most other coaches in the SEC. Usually whoever wins the LSU-Alabama matchup is almost a fixture to make the SEC championship and possibly the national championship.
Going into this year’s Alabama game, LSU was 7-1 and in the top 10 in the polls. Alabama dominated the game from start to finish as they won by two touchdowns. Following the Crimson Tide game, the Tigers fell to Arkansas and Ole Miss. LSU is now 7-4. For a team that was once national championship game contenders led by college football’s best running back in Leonard Fournette, the expectations have gone south with this three game losing streak. Now it seems LSU is ready to give Miles the boot.
I don’t think it is a great idea for the Tigers to fire Miles, especially with what he has done to continue a great tradition at LSU. If they do buyout his contract (which some speculate will happen after Saturday’s game), which would be $15 million dollars, Miles can basically pick any job he wants. Notable locations hiring include USC, Virginia Tech, Missouri and South Carolina. If a coach as successful as Miles is available, every school would have him on the top of the list.
Another reason why LSU can’t let go of Miles is because the Alabama dynasty can’t last forever. Every team in that division has a chance to win in other conferences. That’s how great the whole division is. Recruiting is the biggest thing in college football because it gives you the chance to get the best players in the country. LSU has been one of the top teams in terms of recruiting every year under Miles. It’s unlikely whoever they hire to replace him could do as good of a job.
LSU buying out Miles would be a giant mistake. Even though his team has underachieved this year, they will still be really good next year. Their quarterback Brandon Harris will be back. In all likelihood, so will Fournette. If they do fire Miles, perhaps the best coach they could get currently resides in the NFL in Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
Coaches leaving after forming a legacy at a school is sad, especially when they are forced out after winning a national championship and averaging double digit wins each season. Then you realize it is business. Just like other businesses in the real world, college football can be cruel. I will sit back and let LSU decide its own future. Will they be good with or without Miles next year and in the years to come? Only time will tell.