Do you remember that favorite stuffed animal you had growing up?
You know, the one that you made sure was always with you at your side. The one whom you felt the closest to and that you never wanted to let go, no matter how old you got, or what other people said about it.
That is the way LSU fans felt about Les Miles' relationship with quarterback Jordan Jefferson throughout the quarterback's four seasons in Baton Rouge.
Jefferson was a guy who came in as a highly touted, dual-threat quarterback and Miles wanted to groom his young stud for stardom. After serving primarily as a backup during his freshman season, Miles handed the keys to Jefferson in his sophomore season and let the erratic quarterback loose.
Sure, the results on the field were positive for the most part as the Tigers racked up a 33-7 record during Jefferson's three years as the team's starting signal caller, but the thought of Jefferson as the team's starting quarterback never seemed to settle well with the LSU faithful. In fact, the idea of Miles sticking with Jefferson seemed to make LSU fans sick to their stomach.
Even after an average sophomore season, and even after he was suspended from the program in the offseason and then reinstated midway through his senior year and given his starting job back, Miles continued to stick with his prized recruit, and it proved to be a glaring weakness in the National Championship game, when the team needed him the most.
But on the other hand, there are plenty of decisions that Miles has made that have shaped him into one of the best and most respected college coaches in the nation.
First thing is first, and that is that Miles is a very talented coach who wins by employing a specific style of football. His grind-it-out mentality on offense and his hard-nose mentality on the defensive side of the ball has led to nothing but success during his time at LSU.
Miles' biggest strength is his ability to recruit players that fit to his team's system. He is a mastermind when it comes to coaching offensive linemen, which has become evident as his offense ranks among the best in the SEC in rushing on a yearly basis.
This season, the Tigers return a bevy of talented running backs and offensive linemen, which should make them one of the best running teams not only in the SEC but throughout the entire country as well.
Another one of Miles' best aspects is his recruiting techniques. After losing out on five-star in-state prospect Landon Collins last season, to Alabama nonetheless, Miles made it a point to put a gate up around the state of Louisiana as far as recruiting goes, and he has stuck to that plan.
The Tigers have already received a total of 20 verbal commitments for the class of 2013, 12 of which are in-state recruits and eight of those 12 players are four-star prospects according to Rivals.com. That is impressive in its own right and goes to show how dedicated Miles is to making sure he locks up his home state.
The bottom line here is that it takes a very skilled coach to post a 75-18 record, which is what Miles has done in his time at LSU.
Sure, the guy makes some mistakes here and there, and one in particular really got LSU fans talking about their head coach's questionable decision-making. But in the end, 75 wins, three BCS appearances, two national championship games and one national title is pretty darn impressive for the man they call "The Mad Hatter."
Before you go ahead and point out every weakness Les Miles has, really think about it. It might be more fair not to associate him with what he did wrong, but instead for how he has helped this program grow.
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