Time To Take Hard Look At Miles Despite Hefty Buyout


Sloppy Play And Unimaginative Calls Doom LSU

By John Ventola

LSU lost a third straight game for the first time in sixteen seasons Saturday as Ole Miss easily defeated the Tigers 38-17 in Oxford. While losing three straight is an uncommon occurrence, sloppy and seemingly unmotivated performances by this year’s Les Miles contingent have become weekly lowlights for LSU’s faithful.

The November freefall has taken the Tigers from No. 2 in the initial College Football


November Has Uncovered Some Major Weaknesses, Some On Sideline and In Booth

Playoff poll to a season finale with Texas A & M that will be played for whatever pride is left, and another chance at a lower level bowl game.

Miles, now in his eleventh season at the helm of LSU, has won 110 games and lost only 31 during his tenure. Even in his early years in Tigertown (he went 11-2, 11-2, and 12-2 and brought home the 2007 National Championship), Miles’ success was coupled with the idea he was winning because of the base Nick Saban had laid down during his time in Baton Rouge.

LSU’s program hit a downward spiral (no, not speaking of the program’s quarterback play during the 2008 and 2009 seasons) when the Tigers went 8-5 and 9-4 in the seasons after Matt Flynn’s departure. Miles was able to regroup, and bring a nucleus of top recruits to campus, rallying the school to 11-2, 13-1, 10-3, and 10-3 seasons with many players who left school early for professional careers. Those early departures, and a drop-off in securing enough top level recruits (particularly at quarterback) for a couple of years, have led to eight losses the last two campaigns (8-5, in 2014; 7-3 thus far in 2015).

Since LSU’s unexplainable failure to show up ready to play catastrophe in the 2012 BCS rematch game with Alabama, the Tigers have gone 19-12 in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). And the last three loses to Alabama, Arkansas, and Ole Miss were not as close as the final scores indicated. In each game the opposition jumped out to


Last Three Games Tough To Watch–And Digest

quick leads, and although the Tigers showed some semblance of pride by getting back into the games, LSU’s continued disorganization (13 penalties), unimaginative play calling, and soft defense had it quickly looking at three touchdown deficits.

Won-Loss records can be deceiving sometimes. A bad break here, more than the normal amount of injuries there. LSU’s free fall has been slowed because Miles can recruit—period. Although there has been somewhat of a decline in talent (not all were five star players like Leonard Fournette), and the early departures hurt the team’s overall depth, disorganization, and the lack of solid game plans seem to be the biggest culprits to LSU success nowadays.

When a university is paying its head coach the ninth highest salary in collegiate football ($4,388,000; Saban is No. 1 at $7,087,000), you expect to field a physically and mentally prepared football team each week of competition. That is not happening at LSU right now.

This blogger has always said you could count on Miles bringing at least one team a year into a game totally unprepared. This season, it is happening more times than not. The Ole Miss game was an embarrassment, plain and simple. From a first offensive


No Excuse To Show Up Unprepared And Disorganized

play penalty that nullified Fournette’s 59-yard run from scrimmage, to a Brandon Harris to Fournette pitch/don’t pitch juggle routine at the goal line late in the game, it was a horrific presentation by a team that was considered second best in the country only three weeks ago.

What has gone wrong with LSU? Fournette’s awesome ability covered up a lot of early season blemishes. And while his great efforts, some lucky plays (Harris TD passes with defenders standing right next to receivers), and a Miles special Mad Hatter call, gave LSU SEC wins over Mississippi State, Auburn, and Florida, defensive lapses and a pattern of looking to the sidelines for direction were part of the team’s makeup.

The tendencies even reared their ugly head against overmatched opponents Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky. When the caliber of competition improved, the Tigers looked even more lost, confused, and out of kilter.

LSU deserves more than a clever, surprise call every now and then. The team, and its fan base, deserve well thought out game plans that fully take advantage of the skill sets of its players. Miles and his staff are not providing that this year.

Rumors will continue to circulate about Miles and his head coaching position at LSU. His quirkiness and non-athletic jargon have worn a little thin for most fans. It is tolerable


Miles’ Quirky Routine Growing Stale As Losses Mount

when the team is winning ten games a year. It becomes less so when they playing .500 ball in the SEC. When the defeats are non-competitive, and filled with undisciplined mistakes, and plays that resemble follies on grass (talking turf here), it is time to take a long, hard look at the guy in charge.

As noted above, Miles is well paid. The ninth highest salary in the country (third among SEC coaches, Saban No. 1, A & M’s Kevin Sumlin No. 7, Ole Miss’s Hugh Freeze No. 10), with a $15 million buyout clause in his contract, 12.9 million if LSU waits to after January, 2016 to send the Mayflower moving vans. LSU assistant coaches are protected by another $2 million in buyouts.

For a state in the middle of a financial crisis, and a flagship university suffering through major academic cutbacks due to funding, it seems insane to think that the school would be willing to take such a monetary hit in order to right its football team. However, when one considers that the buyout can be paid out over time and that any future jobs taken by Miles would subtract from the total, it could make sense. Big time college football is just that. It is the image of the university.

In Miles’ postgame news conference Saturday, he said his team was out of sync. You think? The guffaws you hear coming from other coaches, media types, opposing fans, and even loyal Tiger fans, is about LSU’s current football image. Sadly, count this LSU alum among that group. I laugh to keep myself from crying.

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