In college football, when your program reaches a point when you're constantly having to replace top-tier talent that left for the NFL early, that's when you know you've made it.
LSU head coach Les Miles has clearly made it.
In what has become one of the rites of the offseason, The Mad Hatter is again facing the challenge of replacing a bevy of talented players who decided to leave Baton Rouge early in favor of the NFL.
Six Tigers have declared their intentions to leave early, including running back Jeremy Hill, wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., and defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. That's on top of senior running back Alfred Blue choosing to pass up the opportunity of requesting another year of eligibility in favor of the NFL draft.
Just how much production is LSU losing? Cole Cubelic of ESPN and CSS put it into perspective.
Going into 2014 LSU will lose: 348 of 523 rush (attempts) 296 of 326 pass attempts 170 of 205 receptions 32-36 KO returns 19-23 P returns— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) January 14, 2014
These departures are on the heels of last offseason, where LSU had 10 underclassmen declare early (and 11 if you include safety Tyrann Mathieu, who didn't play during the 2012 season).
|LSU Early Entries to the NFL Draft - Last Two Seasons|
|2014||Odell Beckham, Jr.||WR|
This is a rich man's problem.
Yes, it means—as a program—Miles is forced to constantly move inexperienced players into bigger roles, which can lead to inconsistency.
Yes, it sometimes prevents a team from reaching its ultimate goal of winning championships. But it also creates an elite atmosphere within a program.
LSU went 10-3 this season, and it was largely viewed as a "down season."
A 10-win season being a "down season" is a remarkable compliment to a program. Miles' ability to win at an elite level while routinely sending players to the NFL when they want to go creates a cycle of production that most coaches dream of.
What attracts high school prospects to any given school varies from player to player and from year to year. But the one consistent goal among prospects is the possibility of playing football as a profession. LSU offers the chance to do that, and do it quickly.
The mass exodus from Baton Rouge isn't a bad thing.
It's healthy. It's beneficial.
It's what elite programs do.