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The Miles Referendum

I’ve written this post about ten times.  It never says exactly what I want it to say, so I hit the delete key and I start from scratch.  I’ve tried analytical, philosophical, whining, slapping a happy face on it, and coldly dispassionate.  I’ve tried it all and it never works.  So now I’m going to write what feels right.  Throw it up against the wall and see what sticks.  It’s time for incoherent ranting, so sorry if this makes no sense.  I don’t know where it’s going either.

The Hallman/Dinardo Era sucked.  And I think a lot of the LSU fanbase lives in terror of us going back to those days, when going to the Independence Bowl was a cause for celebration.  And our reaction to this year is premised on that memory.  Some fans have internalized the lesson of being eternally vigilant against any sign of malaise.  For them, Miles is the next Mike Archer and he needs to be fired before we have six straight losing seasons.  Other fans, like me, view the Hallman Era as a karmic penalty for firing coaches for going 8-3 every year and then learning that, well, 8-3 is sort of awesome.  For us, Miles is the second coming of Bill Arnsparnger, only waiting for the next Mike Archer when we can our coach because he’s winning but he’s not winning enough. 

We’re both wrong.  Les Miles is Les Miles.  History doesn’t repeat itself.  LSU has far better facilities, more money, and a better pipeline to high school talent to go back to losing season after losing season.  On the flip side, there’s no guarantee we’re going back to national title contention.  This offseason and the next season will define Les Miles.  Is he a guy who just walked into a great situation, and managed a title before it all fell apart?  Or is he a great coach building his own power in Baton Rouge?  I don’t know.  Neither do you.  But this next year will go a long way to answering that question, as we find out how Miles deals with adversity. 

Honestly, the early returns aren’t good.  I’m okay with our team getting beat, but I’m not okay with the team quitting.  And this team quit.  The receivers quit on Lee.  Lee quit on himself.  The defense quit.  The defensive line couldn’t create pressure.  The secondary couldn’t cover.  The linebackers couldn’t tackle.   The offensive line quit.  The running backs quit.  The senior leaders refused to lead.  The youngsters refused to follow.  This team is a mess right now.  Losing happens.  Quitting should not.  And that’s why I’m pissed off.

And while the ship hit the iceberg, Miles stood on the sidelines, arms folded, doing nothing.  OK, that’s not true.  We don’t know what happens behind closed doors, but it certainly didn’t show up on the field.  Miles just kept throwing Lee out there to get killed until he had no confidence left without even seriously attempting to play Jefferson.  He doggedly stuck to players (cough) (Bowe) (cough) who were a cancer to the team and should’ve been forced to grab pine for their crappy attitudes.  He never defined a role for Jones until he had no role whatsoever and became an ineffective and confused player.  The defense never got a shakeup other than Peterson getting a starting gig.  

We lost to Arkansas because we stopped trying to win midway through the quarter.  We lost to Ole Miss because the team came out flat.  On Senior Day.  This team thought it would eventually win by virtue of its talent.  This just in: every team has talent.  LSU has a talent advantage over a lot of teams, but it is not so massive that LSU can just show up and win.  Hopefully, the team has learned that this year.  It’s time to go back and start working again.  Because this is a complacent football team that deserved to get its ass kicked.  Because we got outworked, outhustled, and outfought in almost every game.  Even in our wins.  This team didn’t give a good damn all season.  I’ll embrace the team after it loses because it is my team.  But I demand that the team that represents my alma mater plays hard.  I don’t think that’s asking for the world.  I was embarrassed after these last two weeks. 

People need to be fired.  To use the Dinardo analogy, the mistake wasn’t hiring Lou Tepper, it was refusing to fire the guy.  Mallory and Peveto’s reign as co-defensive coordinators is a disaster.  This is the worst LSU defense in nearly a decade.   Is it their fault?  I don’t even think that matters anymore.  The fanbase is demanding a scalp, and rightfully so.  They have almost no credibility with me, and I’m hardly a “fire the coach” kind of guy.  Also, we need a quarterbacks coach.  A guy to come in and just work with the QB’s because we can’t afford another year like this.

The worst thing about this season is that the team got worse as the season went on.  That should not have happened, and speaks volumes about the job the coaching staff has done.  I’m not writing off Les Miles or anything, but he is on the clock.  This team has got problems.  He needs to fix them, and quickly.  Expectations have been raised around these parts, and going 3-5 in a down year of the SEC is simply not going to cut it.