This seems to be Les Miles Referendum Week here at ATVS and throughout the Tiger Nation, so let's just give into it.
Before we do that, I want to echo what 4.0 Point Stance said in the comments of Richard's post: it's less fun to be an LSU fan. Climbing the mountain is far more fun than trying to stay there. I've told this story before, but I will say it again: when we were in the midst of the Hallman Era, I promised to never complain about an 8-win season. Not because I don't want success, but winning 8 games every year IS success. But now that we've tasted wine for the champion's cup, well, 8 wins don't seem so great anymore.
Yet LSU Jonno also makes a great point. It's not overall wins, it's SEC wins. By that standard, which is a fair standard, LSU was a 3-5 team last year. We've said it many times here: the only thing a team can control is winning a conference title, national titles require luck. Just ask a Penn St fan if merely going undefeated is good enough (seriously, THREE undefeated seasons without a title? That's crazy).
So, it really comes down to this: Who Are We?
Is it reasonable to expect the SEC Championship Game every year? Or every other year? I think most people would answer no. I do think it reasonable, especially given our recruiting classes as of late, to expect this team to COMPETE for a SEC West title every year, which is why last year really was an abject failure.
What is success at LSU? Is it 10 wins every year? Is it to always be in the national title hunt? If these goals are not met, is it reasonable to demand the coach's head on a platter? These are honest questions, as LSU has never had its defining coach. By almost any reasonable measure, Miles is one of the most successful coaches in LSU history and 2005-2007 are the best three consecutive seasons in the program's history. Is this sustainable?
I think what is going on right now is not so much a referendum on Miles, but a re-evaluation of what constitutes success at LSU. And the fanbase is understandably split on this issue, mainly because no one is truly articulating that is what we are arguing about. Is LSU the new Florida, a program that was a sleeping giant, now awake and ready to dominate on a fairly consistent basis? Or is this recent run of success just a little out of the norm, and we'll regress back to our traditional level with Tennessee and Georgia, just below the elite of the elite programs. CFB Data Warehouse ranks LSU as the #9 program of all-time, as a frame of reference.
What do we want? Is nine wins good enough, with the occasional run at a national title? Or is that thinking too small? Should LSU fans now demand regular trips to Atlanta and consistent top ten finishes? Is the failure to reach these goals a fireable offense?
I'm genuinely asking, feel free to use the comments to continue this battle for the LSU fan's soul. I will tell you where I completely part company with those who demand nothing but excellence: LSU is 4-0 right now and I think we all agree there are still issues with this team. No one denies that. What I don't get is being upset ALREADY about the Georgia and Florida games, even though those games haven't even happened yet.
Some fans have already gotten angry over a Georgia loss, and if it actually happens, they've been living that loss for five weeks. Why make yourself live that misery? Even the very best teams win 10 to 12 times a year. Why rob yourself of the enjoyment of those wins? Wins are precious and should be celebrated. If your first reaction to Mississippi State was "we're gonna lose to Georgia", take a deep breath and remember to celebrate the win. Wins don't come around all that often given the short football schedule, and if we don't appreciate them, the football gods may see fit to take those wins away again.