Everyone has stupid friends. Or relatives. Or both. It's the holidays, so you are about to spend even more time uniting with these folks, oftentimes over prolonged meals with uncomfortable discussions about family, politics, sports, careers, and even your fucked up Uncle Jimmy, who just got his fourth DUI. Dammit, Jimmy, get your shit together. For God's sake, you're 43 now.
At any rate, we want to do our level-best to prepare you to talk to your loved ones about LSU football.These discussions can often be emotional. Sometimes, they are very, very difficult. We all know someone who lives in a world where their only #taeks are hot. And, to be quite honest, we have seen better days in the world of LSU football. You know, it's okay to be disappointed. It's even okay to expect better. Maybe you are even doubting yourself, staring at the bottom of your almost empty high ball glass and wondering where it all went wrong. I get. I really do.
But never fear! Where your answers fail, we have prepared some bulletproof, fail-safe ways to tackle some of the most common complaints you are bound to hear this holiday season.
The assumption here is that you can hold their attention span for longer than approximately 2.5 minutes. I'm a big fan of allowing people to teach themselves, because typically they learn things better that way. So, what you do is set up a guided lesson plan. It goes something like this:
They say, "I love Les, but LSU is just so mediocre under him."
You say: "Hmm, maybe, how do you define mediocre?"
This is non-combative and welcoming. It allows the illusion that you are even possibly entertaining their frivolous and stupid argument.
They say: "Well, just look at us, we're in the Houston Bowl!"
Well, of course you know it's the Advocare Texas Bowl, but that's a minor detail not worth quibbling about at this moment. So you fire back with something a little more direct:
You say, "Well, I understand it's not the best bowl game, but still, LSU should have won nine games already this year, and should be 10 if they win the bowl. And 10 win seasons are hard to come by."
They say, "Not really, Saban does it all the time."
You say, "That's true, Alabama does win 10 games pretty much every year. But who else does?"
They say, "Well, Clemson, Michigan State."
You say, "That's interesting, because Clemson won just 6 games in 2010. Michigan State won 7 in 2012. That's pretty bad. Les has never won fewer than 8 games at LSU."
They say, "Yeah, but Les walked into a program built by Saban."
You say, "That's somewhat true. But Saban only lost fewer than three games once at LSU and now people want to fire Les for doing exactly that?"
They say, "Yeah, but that's mediocrity, man. LSU recruits with the best, they should never lose three games."
You say, "Well, I'm curious, how do you define mediocre?"
They say, "If you don't think LSU is mediocre, then you ain't watching."
You say, "Well, I looked up mediocre on my phone dictionary while you were talking and it says..." (shows person phone)
They say, "Well you know what I mean. 3-5 losses a year is as mediocre as mediocre gets."
You say, "I don't really know what you mean. I think we can agree that mediocre means not very good, right? You wouldn't dispute that?"
They say, "Nope. Mediocre is basically average, just like LSU."
You say, "Ok, cool. Glad we can agree about something. Well, there are 128 teams in D1 college football. So, from a pure statistical standpoint, mediocre would be somewhere around the 50th percentile, right?"
They say, "Yep."
You say, "Ok, I'm really glad we're on the same page here. Now I'm willing to give or take some percentile spots here because the middle of the pack tends to be the thickest groups. So, say, 15 spots one way or another and you'd consider all those teams roughly equal?"
They say, "Yeah that sounds fair enough."
You say, "Well good. So being mediocre means you rank in the 65th percentile or lower in terms of W/L for college football. So anyways, you're a really smart guy/gal so I know me telling you that 8-3 LSU, who is ranked 20th by the college football playoff committee, would just cause you to fire back that a single-season dataset isn't near enough to illustrate the true point. After all, Northwestern is 13th! Temple is 24th! Anything can happen with those rankings, right?"
They say, "That's right. Just a fluke."
You say, "Ok, so let's use the 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons. Does that seem fair? These are, after all, the years that illustrate Miles is in decline? We can throw out that silly 2011 season, it's just an outlier, right? I remember you telling me this over Thanksgiving."
They say, "That's right, we are in decline. So yeah, I think that's fair. Now you'll see how mediocre LSU has been these last four years!"
You say, "Now that choice of words is really interesting to me, because, well, since 2011, LSU is 49-15."
They say, "See! That's so average! 15 losses since 2011? What a joke Les Miles is! That's almost 4 a year. Atrocious!"
You say, "Well, I can understand why you'd feel that way. It sounds really scary when you say it out loud. But that's the 11th best winning percentage in the country in that time span."
They say, "LOL. Who cares, LSU plays a bunch of weak cupcakes to get those extra wins to makes Miles' seasons look better."
You say, "Well, that's not true either. According to the Sagarin rankings, LSU has played the 15th, 25th, 5th and 9th toughest schedules over the past four years. So, year in and year out, LSU is playing one of the 20 toughest schedules in the nation and still winning more games that 117 other teams."
They say, "Yeah, but, with the way LSU recruits, they should be playing much better than everyone in their conference except Bama."
You say, "Well, that's interesting, because remember that 49-15 mark I cited earlier?"
They say, "Yeah."
You say, "Well, it's the 2nd best mark in the SEC in that time span. 76.6% winning."
They say, "Yeah, but I bet the rest of the conference are like one or two games back, at best. With WAYYYY worse talent."
You say, "Yeah, no. Because just behind us are Georgia, 74.2%, who fired their coach, and South Carolina, 67.2%, whose coach resigned due to failure. The next closest is Texas A&M, also 67.2%, you know, the team we've beaten five times in a row now since they joined the conference. So Miles wins about 10% more games than the nearest league comparison. If percentages aren't your thing, well in that 4-year span LSU has won six more games than it's next closest divisional foe, after Bama."
They say, "Well, we can't beat Bama, that's a failure."
You say, "I agree, that's frustrating. You know what percentage of games Bama has won since the 2011 season, when they beat LSU to win the National Title?"
They say, "A lot!"
You say, "Damn right. 89.5% of their games. More than anyone in the nation. And that's winning games at a 16% more clip than they have averaged in their esteemed history."
They say, "Well that's impressive."
You say, "Yeah, those assholes are interrupting our historic greatness with even more historic greatness."
They say, "So you mean, we're actually pretty good."
You say, "Yeah, we got a damn strong football team. Quit calling them mediocre."