For Les Miles, everything crashed like a meteor
BATON ROUGE — LSU athletic director Joe Alleva and LSU Board of Supervisors member Ronald Anderson have not been alone in their desire for this season to be so critical in the sliding fast future of Les Miles as the Tigers’ football coach.
It may have seemed like that at times last week, but several members of the board and key boosters have also felt this way since the Arkansas game.
Whether you agree or not that one of the most successful college coaches overall in the country from 2005 through 2013 and an elite coach from 2005-07 and from 2010-13 should be fired soon, it is going to happen — right or wrong.
Last week was about what should happen. Today, it’s about what’s going to happen.
Alleva, the Board, and key boosters’ minds are already made up. It’s only a question of when and how.
Whatever the Tigers (7-3, 4-3 SEC), who fell out of both major polls on Sunday following another depressing loss Saturday night by 38-17 at Ole Miss, do in their regular season finale against Texas A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC) on Saturday, is immaterial as far as Miles’ future.
The only question is does Alleva and company pull the trigger Monday or at some point this week and release Miles with honor in a final home game against the Aggies? As shocking as that sounds, it would be a nice touch if Miles is in agreement with it.
Letting him hang another week with everybody knowing what’s about to happen would be hard to watch and, most importantly, tough on the players.
If LSU is going to do it — and LSU is going to do it — do it now. Give the players and everyone a chance to exhale, release the pressure and let Miles coach his last game — if he wants to do so — in peace and void of more questions about his tenuous future. If not, appoint Ed Orgeron the interim head coach for the game. He has experience in such situations. And whoever is the next coach needs to keep Orgeron.
I would have preferred Baton Rouge WBRZ sportscaster Michael Cauble’s scenario. “At this point,” he tweeted on Friday after Anderson’s comment that Miles would still be up for review even if he finished 2-0 circulated, “I hope Les wins these next two and then drops the microphone and walks.”
That would’ve been cool. Straight out of “Any Given Sunday” with Al Pacino as Miles.
“It’s been a great season,” Miles could’ve said and winked at Alleva after winning the Sugar Bowl to finish 10-2. “Now, I’m going to Michigan. … Have a great day.”
Unfortunately, the one time Miles finally needs Michigan, it doesn’t have an opening this year.
And on the field in real life, the Tigers looked pitiful in the early going for the third straight week to complete the trilogy that started in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 7. When Fournette broke a 59-yard run on LSU’s first possession Saturday, I thought, it could happen. And the flag flew. Alas, holding again. And that was already the Tigers’ second penalty since touching the ball. There was holding on the kickoff return, too. Then there was another holding that Ole Miss declined, a delay of game and a false start, and LSU was just getting warmed up. This was only through seven plays on their first drive.
They would finish with 13 penalties, and that’s not even a season high. The Tigers moved 73 yards on their next drive as quarterback Brandon Harris connected with Fournette for 46 yards, but Trent Domingue missed a 27-yard field goal.
LSU actually finished with 508 yards — its second most this season. And Harris threw for 324 yards — the most by an LSU quarterback since Zach Mettenberger threw for 340 in a 59-26 win over Mississippi State in 2013. But it may be the most meaningless 500 yards in LSU history. After falling behind 24-0 in the second quarter, the Tigers were only in the game briefly in the third quarter after cutting the lead to 24-17. The defense folded again, and it was over again.
How did this happen so quick? It’s amazing. Just a little more than two weeks ago as the 7-0 and No. 2 Tigers touched down in Tuscaloosa, everything was starting to look like 2015 would be the next four-year increment of the championship seasons of 2011 and 2007.
Then Miles and his program plunged to the earth like a meteor — 30-16 loss at Alabama after trailing 10-0 early, 31-14 loss to Arkansas after trailing 21-0 early, the surprising news of Alleva and others lying in wait for a firing, and finally, 38-17 loss at Ole Mills after trailing 24-0 early.
The three straight, double-digit losses have not happened — and this is also amazing — since 1966 when the Tigers finished 5-4-1. LSU had two double-digit losses last year as well. The Tigers are 15-8 overall and 8-7 in the SEC the last two years with five lopsided losses. Those are the numbers that are getting Miles fired — rightly or wrongly.
Alleva suddenly looks smart for staying ahead of the game and seeing this coming, but he does not look so fiscally wise when you start doing the math he will be doing shortly and with the new hire.
Last year Alleva refused to give defensive coordinator John Chavis $300,000 to keep him. The defense, which has had key injuries, would still not be great, but it would be better under Chavis than it has been under Kevin Steele. And Miles might be keeping his job. Yet it was Alleva who allowed Miles’ updated contract in 2013 to have such a huge buyout.
If Miles is fired before Dec. 31, he gets $15 million. While Alleva has been getting all his ducks in a row perhaps for about two years for this firing and hiring, he apparently missed a large spot. And LSU will be paying for it dearly for years.