With every passing day, it seems more and more likely that this is our last Thanksgiving with Les Miles as the football coach of our beloved LSU Tigers. I don't have any sources, but I can read the tea leaves, and it doesn't look good for The Hat.
So let me take this National Day of Thanksgiving to say thank you to Les.
Thanks, for making this the most entertaining decade of any sports team I have ever followed. You have bent time, gone for it on fourth down, and faked more successful kicks (especially against Florida) than I ever thought possible. More than anything, games under your watch were fun.
Thanks for making it fun. In a business that reveres humorless scolds who try to suck all of the joy of competition from both the players and the fans, you constantly reminded us to appreciate not just LSU football, but the whole glorious world of college football. You didn't scold the media about not taking this as seriously as the Paris Peace Talks, but instead welcomed all of us to enjoy the competition.
Thanks for changing the language. I used to run a piece about translating Coachspeak, to penetrate the meaningless clichés that coaches spout to obfuscate any actual meaning. You ruined that by being more entertaining than anything I could possibly come up with as parody. I have a want to compete. I have the chest to compete. We all got to enjoy our damn strong football team. Have a great day.
Thanks for the wins. 110 of them. Seven ten-win seasons. Five seasons with two losses or less. The best winning percentage by a coach in LSU history. Three West titles. Three BCS bowls. Two SEC titles. One national title. We love your mannerisms, Les, but we wouldn't have kept you around unless you won a lot. Boy, did you win a lot. More than any coach in LSU history. The Golden Age of LSU Football is the Les Miles Era. You built this.
Thanks for the Hat. Thanks for eating grass. Thanks for the sneakers. Thanks for the way you clap. Thanks for making videos in which you dunked on your kids. You got it. You seemed to enjoy this pressure cooker more than any person reasonably should have. You lived up being the LSU coach more than any man since Cholly Mack. You defined this place, and it helped define you.
Thanks for being a good person. You put your players first, sometimes even at the expense of the "program." But what is the program other than all of the people who have gone through it? The outpouring of love and support from your current, former, and even potential future players has shown the dramatic impact you've had on people's lives. In the long view, the games fade away and all that's left is the people you have touched. They are your legacy.
Thanks for Delusional Optimism. OK, you probably had no idea it existed, but you inspired it. These are the good times, and we need to enjoy them. I learned that from watching you, and I embraced it. This is about fun, and you were nothing but fun. You didn't just win football games, you made football games more entertaining. Other fanbases were jealous of what we had. Not just the winning, but how we won. And I say "we", because you always included the fans into the definition of LSU football. This belongs to all of us.
Thanks for holding your head high, and refusing to campaign for the job you already have. It would have diminished you to stoop to their level. What does it matter how a man falls? When all that's left is the fall, it matters a great deal. You even are falling with class.
Thanks for everything. This has been a wonderful, wonderful ride. I'm glad you were driving. I wouldn't have changed a single thing (ok, maybe ONE thing). You are the best thing to ever happen to LSU sports, and I can't thank you enough for eleven years of fantastic memories.
Thanks, coach. Delusional Optimism is going to miss you.