If you’re inclined to lend credence to message-board chatter, a growing segment of the LSU fan base is, for whatever reason, growing weary of Les Miles‘ failure to get the Tigers back to their 2007 championship level. Now, though, some that cover the team on a daily basis are beginning to think that the smoke surrounding Miles may in fact be coming from an ever-increasing hot seat.
Rewind a couple of weeks, and LSU was poised to take over the pole position in the race to the postseason, sitting at No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings with a date at SEC West rival Alabama on tap. Fast-forward a couple of Saturdays and not only did LSU get beaten down in a 14-point loss to ‘Bama, but they were embarrassed the next week by Arkansas in a 17-point loss in Death Valley.
All of that leads us to Scott Rabalais of the Baton Rouge Advocate, one of the most respected LSU beat writers in the business. In a column titled “‘Strong indications’ LSU’s Les Miles coaching for his job vs. Ole Miss, Texas A&M,” Rabalais lays out the case that Miles’ seat is trending from warm to increasingly hot in Baton Rouge.
It’s early yet, relatively speaking, and as can be expected, no one is eager to go public regarding Miles’ future at this point. But 25 years of covering LSU, cultivating a variety of knowledgeable sources, have led this writer to believe there is a serious threat to Miles’ tenure here.
But in the span of just two Saturdays, with humbling losses to Alabama and Arkansas, the ice has thinned under Miles’ feet to the point where strong indications are that he will be coaching for his very job at Ole Miss on Saturday and the week after that against Texas A&M.
LSU supporters have grown tired of what looks most of the time like a conservative offensive approach. Pair that with habitual problems with penalties, delay of game issues, and this year’s special teams breakdowns, and it’s a recipe for dissatisfaction, on the verge of changing over to apathy.
Rabalais goes on to say that, in perhaps the most damning indication that Miles could be in trouble, “major boosters, big financial boosters of the program” are no longer congregated en masse in Miles’ corner. That could prove beneficial as Miles’ buyout is a whopping $17 million if he’s fired without cause — $15 million for Miles, $2 million for his assistants. The $15 million figure is somewhat mitigated by the fact that it’s payable over eight years, but that’s still a sizable amount of money on top of having to pay a replacement and his staff. If well-heeled boosters are behind a potential move, however, money would likely be no object if they truly wanted to rid themselves of the Mad Hatter.
Some are absolutely stunned that anyone would want to get rid of a coach that has won a national championship and played for another, and won 78 percent of his games in what’s been an 11-year tenure. Hell, he’s won 70 percent of his league games playing in arguably the toughest conference in the country.
However, his SEC record has gone from 6-2 following an 8-0 mark in the BCS title game season to 5-3 to 4-4 last season. At 4-2 and games against Ole Miss and Texas A&M on tap, back-to-back .500 conference records are certainly on the table.
If, and it still remains a rather sizable if, the LSU job opens up, there won’t be a lack of potential replacements eager to fill the position. Conversely, if Miles is kicked to the curb, the 62-year-old coach will have no problem finding gainful employment if he so desires. South Carolina sure would be nice this time of year, wouldn’t it?