clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why a little self-awareness goes a long way

**Ed. Note: Yes I am trying to cross the streams between Star Wars and the LSU offense. If every molecule of this website explodes at the speed of light, well hey, better to burn out than to fade away.**

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

So there's a new Star Wars movie out this week.

Maybe you've heard.

In making my way through various material on the build up to the show, I read this excellent piece by's David Wong, making the comparison between learning about the original series and Christmas, etc... and as the wheels turned it brought me to the general idea of George Lucas.

If you saw the prequels, you've almost certainly asked the question as to how the man behind the first three could miss the mark so badly. Wooden acting (from GOOD actors), flat characters, plot holes, CGI vomit, etc...

It was almost as if Lucas completely failed to understand exactly what made the original trilogy so great (yes I know that most people hate Return of the Jedi -- I don't, but I understand the complaints).

And that's because he didn't.

Star Wars began as a rip-off of the Flash Gordon series, because Lucas couldn't afford the rights to the original series. From there, what it turned into was an amazing accident of choices made by art directors, set designers, sound editors, casting directors and actors themselves.

Lucas deserves some credit. He was the director, after all. He came up with that iconic opening sequence and poured over the details of the Star Destroyer models, etc... But a lot of the movie was, by multiple accounts, a miserable experience that nobody really believed was going to work out. As Wong explained, when Lucas gave up a portion of his director's fee in return for the merchandising and sequel rights, nobody really thought twice about it, because A) movie merchandising and sequels weren't seen as big business yet and B) they saw the film as money pissed away, so anything they could save sounded like a great idea.

(And whether Lucas had a clue what he was doing or not, that decision not only made him a billionaire, it pretty much changed how Hollywood thought about movies, for better or worse.)

Nobody knew what it was. Nobody knew what they had, least of all Lucas. The truth is that while he received virtually all of the credit, he really just didn't have a lot to do with the creative processes and decisions that made Star Wars the most iconic film series in our history.

Flash forward 20 years, and Star Wars had become one of the most recognizable brands in all of pop culture, with George Lucas as its king. So when it finally comes time to flesh out the story with prequels, he more or less had free reign to do exactly what he wanted. No budget constraints necessitating certain cuts and re-shots. No Harrison Ford telling him "George, you can type this shit but you can't say it." No Anthony Daniels making the acting choice to change a wise-cracking, smooth-talking C-3PO to uptight and semi-effeminate. All the tiny little things that had nothing to do with Lucas, which made the original trilogy great.

And we saw what happened.

In the end, Lucas lacked the self-awareness to understand his own limitations and how much of the "Star Wars magic" in the first place. Hence, the hope that without Lucas' involvement, the next trilogy will at least make sense.

So where does that analogy lead vis a vis LSU? Am I saying that Les Miles has to remove himself from the offensive process? Not really.

That won't ever happen, because every head coach is involved in some capacity, be it setting the tone that he wants his team to establish, or basic game management (trick plays, tempo, four-down territory, etc...), just as positon coaches will always have some involvement in lineups, rotations, etc... In general, the debate over Miles' involvement has always struck me more as a strawman for the dedicated detractor crowd. But that's beside the point.

What Les Miles does need is what Lucas lacked: that self-awareness of his situation. Why has the passing game for this team fallen apart, and how did that contribute to this team's plummet from the top five in November. It nearly cost Miles his job this year, and if it continues it will do so after next year.

There's been a lot of talk about "new energy" for this program, but what does that mean? Miles will have to make a decision on Cam Cameron's status, be it to extend his contract or replace him. And it will be his decision -- nobody will force anything on him. If it's the latter, there are any number of direction that path could lead, and we'll be discussing all of them.

But make no mistake, it will be the head coach that sets that path. And knowing where to go next is always easier if you understand how you got here in the first place.

I'm not sure Lucas ever had it. We'll find out if Les Miles does.