Firing Les Miles is not the answer for LSU


The LSU football team’s impressive start to the 2015 season came to a screeching halt in the past two weeks, but firing head coach Les Miles is not the answer to the problem.

For the first nine weeks of the 2015 season, the LSU football team appeared to be a legitimate threat to win the SEC and contend for a national title. But two consecutive embarrassing losses to conference rivals have eliminated any possibility of either, landing head coach Les Miles on the hypothetical hot seat in the process.

The criticism of Miles is deserving.

His team has played uninspired for the past two weeks, losing to Alabama and Arkansas by a combined score of 30-61. They have fallen from the No. 2 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings to in danger of becoming unranked. And Leonard Fournette’s Heisman Trophy chances have all but evaporated due to the Tigers getting thoroughly dominated at the line of scrimmage.

Miles is coming off of a disappointing 8-5 season, tying his worst record since arriving in Baton Rouge, and his five-game losing streak against Alabama is impossible to overlook.

But as bad as LSU has looked as of late, and as horrendously unprepared as they have been, Miles should not lose his job as a result. And it has nothing to do with whether or not he deserves to be fired.

In a typical offseason, LSU would be the premier coaching destination in college football. The Tigers boast arguably the greatest home-field advantage in the sport, with a legendary stadium that recently underwent an $80 million expansion.

Perhaps most importantly, the school is located in a hotbed of high school football talent. 58 players from Louisiana were on NFL rosters at the start of the current season, the second-most per capita behind Alabama.

But at the moment, LSU would not be atop of the list of premier college football coaching destinations. For some coaches, it may not even be second.

The top head coaching job currently available is by far that of the USC Trojans, who fired head coach Steve Sarkisian earlier this season after multiple incidents related to his struggles with alcohol. The USC head coaching job outweighs LSU’s in essentially every metric imaginable.

The Trojans have a historical advantage over the Tigers, claiming eight more national championships, 24 more conference titles, six more Heisman Trophy winners and 53 more All-Americans.

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They also have an edge in recruiting in that they call California home, a state that has produced 203 current NFL players, the second-most behind Florida. Not to mention the appeal of coaching under the bright lights of Los Angeles.

And while LSU is a significantly better job than Miami, the other premier head coaching vacancy, the allure of living on the beach and Florida’s rich recruiting landscape might be just enough for certain top coaching prospects to favor the Hurricanes over the Tigers.

But more than anything, firing Miles would be a major gamble as LSU returns a team that is primed to contend for a national title in 2016.

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Leonard Fournete, Brandon Harris, Malachi Dupre and Jamal Adams headline arguably the most talented sophomore class in college football. Safety Jalen Mills, offensive tackle Vadal Alexander and linebacker Lamar Louis are the only seniors in the starting lineup who will be leaving the program. And cornerback Tre’Davious White is the only junior who is currently grading out as a first-round NFL Draft pick.

Miles’ performance warrants criticism, and his job security is a convenient, and legitimate, point of discussion. But with change at the head coaching position often comes growing pains. A national title is a seemingly impossible goal in Year 1 of a new regime, with just one head coach in the past 67 years (Larry Coker at Miami in 2001), accomplishing such a feat in his first season.

If LSU loses two of its final three games of the season, then by all means fire up the coaching carousel.

But for now, the Tigers would be wise to allow the winningest coach in school history to attempt to bounce back from his most recent skid, and not invoke a shakeup for a team that will enter 2016 as a favorite to win the national championship.