Les Miles has been garnering quite a bit of attention lately, out of the state of Alabama. Needless to say, this attention has not been of the favorable variety. It seems there are some blog writers, sympathetic to the Crimson Tide, who have demonstrated a preoccupation with Coach Miles as of late. The obvious question is why?
After some friendly cyberspace banter with one or two of these writers I begin to get the sense that some are a bit anxious around Tuscaloosa.
And of course, one would logically ask, why the anxiety? They have their “savior” coach locked up (well, about as locked up as you can get the wandering Nick Saban), they are coming off of a year where most of it was spent at or near the top of the rankings, and they have just secured a second straight “Rivals” National Recruiting Championship. All the pieces are in place for championships galore. And there lies the problem.
It has been over a decade since the Tide has tasted real success and now have no excuse not to taste it again; we’re talking NC success. This puts added pressure on those that blow the Alabama horn to put up or shut up. One of their ways of dealing with this neurosis is to externalize it by focusing on something or someone external to their core.
This is where Les Miles comes into the picture.
They see Coach Miles as an added threat to their comfort level, because he represents success at one of Bama’s most hated divisional rivals, LSU. Coach Miles had the nerve to follow up Saban’s only national championship, when at LSU in 2003, with one of his own in 2007. They are willing to forgive Saban’s LSU run to glory, because he is now one of them, however, Miles repeating the feat is unforgivable.
And now the pressure becomes even more intense because their hearts will not rest until Saban one-ups Miles and does at Alabama what he did at LSU. Attacking Miles deflects their inner anxiety to an external source, although there is no basis for their claims. This is a common neurotic defense mechanism.
Some of the hateful remarks directed at Coach Miles, by one Bama backer in particular, include: “terrible coach”, “shortcomings as a head coach”, “talks first and thinks later”, and “coaches from the hip” just to name a few (Franklin Crittenden). He talks as though he has been standing next to Miles on the sideline at every game.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if you are going to put this garbage out for public consumption, at least have your diatribe match the target’s resume. These critical attributes are not exactly one's normally associated with a successful head coach at a major university in the toughest conference in the land.
Les Miles has amassed, in four years at LSU, a 42/11 (.792) W/L record, two SEC West Crowns, one SEC Championship, four out of four bowl wins (all blow-outs), three out of four Top five Finishes and one National Championship to boot. Exactly what you would expect from a “terrible coach” in his first four years at a new school.
And don’t give me this trash that he did it with Saban’s players. The one and only complement Mr. Crittenden paid Coach Miles was that he is a “great recruiter”. This is already quite evident by the classes he has brought into LSU, especially this year’s that can stand toe to toe with Alabama’s top-ranked class (Rivals).
Now granted, Coach Miles can be a little unorthodox in his coaching and play calling, but there is a method to his so called madness and you can’t argue with success. When he goes against the odds on a particular play or drive (four fourth-down runs up the gut with the game on the line), he is simply demonstrating that he has the playmakers to get it done and he is exhibiting his confidence in them. Not all coaches can claim certain brass appendages.
One last point to make regarding Alabama and their anxiety laden neurosis being directed at LSU and Les Miles. Watching their beloved Tide get manhandled in a convincing beat-down by underdog Utah, just days after witnessing LSU being masterfully coached to a “walk in the park” against favored Georgia Tech is not the way you want to enter the off-season, if you roll with the Tide.
Maybe there are doubts in the back of some minds as to whether Saban is truly the “savior”. Whatever the reason, bashing Les Miles may help take their minds off of their own insecurities, but it will not help them one bit when they witness St Nick get out-coached by him on November 7th.