Les Miles failed.
And I failed too, backing Miles last November and expecting change this fall.
First, let me say I’m as guilty as anyone for putting national championship expectations on this team, and after Saturday's 16-14 loss to Wisconsin, I'm positive the Tigers won't reach the promise land. And maybe even worse for some fans, LSU will finish behind Alabama. Again.
The 11-1 preseason prediction by yours truly — I made said prediction in a Citizen Sports podcast episode with Matt Reynolds — was concluded with a few expectations. Two of which went unfulfilled Saturday.
The first was an improved offense. Yes, you've heard those same reports we all did: LSU is changing things up in 2016. To be fair, LSU coaches showcased a few wrinkles Saturday: a few option read calls, a fake speed sweep with D.J. Chark designed to spring quarterback Brandon Harris and aggressive play-calling in some unexpected situations occurred. But for the most part, it was the same song and dance Tiger fans have witnessed for the past decade.
That's not the worst part, though. Where the coaching staff failed more than anywhere is the quarterback position. Simply put, Harris showed no signs of development as a quarterback. He steadily left the pocket before he had to and sailed his passes. Stop me if you’ve heard that one before… Furthermore, he lacked the poise (not the talent) to make a game-changing or game-winning play. He displayed that in a game-ending interception Saturday.
The other expectation that went unfulfilled was dominant offensive line play. Three returning starters with experienced backups being inserted, and the Tigers still couldn't move an undersized Wisconsin team off the ball. Even worse? The Badgers were without starting linebacker T.J. Edwards, who led the team in tackles a season ago. You wouldn't know it by the way Wisconsin badgered Leonard Fournette in the backfield and near the line of scrimmage. Again, stop me if you’ve heard this story before.
Enough about Miles’ failures, though. Let’s get back to last November and talk about my own. As most of you know, I’ve helped my friend Scott Long with his daily LSU site — DandyDon.com — for a few years now, and last November we faced a dilemma: back Les Miles or turn up the heat?
I pleaded with Scott to back him. My reasoning was you're not going to get a better coach (I'll still argue Jimbo Fisher is a lateral move) and I thought Miles deserved a chance to win it all in 2016. It will be his most talented roster with experience yet, I said.
Miles proved that even with such a roster, he’s incapable of winning it all without the luckiest of bounces. The Stone Age passing offense was once again displayed in the 16-14 loss, and as good as LSU’s defense will be this season, the offense will prevent the Tigers from doing extraordinary things. Has that not been reiterated enough over the years?
Finally, enough is enough. Despite all the great things Miles has done for this team, I can no longer support the man as head football coach of LSU.
Tiger fans deserve a coach that can get more out of its talent. Not a coach that will underachieve with future NFL greats.
The campaigning for Houston's Tom Herman has already started among several Tiger fans.
I support the change. At this point, after LSU’s fourth regular season loss out of its previous five, I support any change involving the head coach.