The Mad Hatter And His Mad Fan Base: Les Miles Deserves Respect

Jim JonesContributor IIINovember 6, 2010

BATON ROUGE, LA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers waches a play against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Tiger Stadium on September 25, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  The Tigers defeated the Mountaineers 20-14.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Les Miles has pulled out a huge victory against their archrival, the Alabama Crimson Tide. Yet one must wonder, when the excitement wears down over the next couple of days, will doubters finally stop hating on the “Mad Hatter?”


Despite having a .787 winning percentage at the school, a national championship, a win in the Sugar Bowl and competing year in and year out in the tough Southeastern Conference, Les Miles is frequently belittled by the LSU fan base and pundits alike.


Don't get me wrong, Miles still has a lot of supporters in Baton Rouge, but for someone with such an astounding resume, he has had to endure a lot of criticism.


Whatever LSU fans might think, the Tigers are not a historical superpower, so the notion of sky-high standards, like for Notre Dame, should not hold true. Most of the Tigers' success has come in the last decade, and while the program has elevated itself to the level of Alabama and Ohio State, it does not enjoy their decades-long history.


Miles has been a very big part of building LSU into a national power, yet he is treated as if LSU is doing him the favor by allowing him to coach the Tigers.


When potentially greener pastures opened up in Ann Arbor in 2007, Miles refused to abandon the Tigers. His version of rebuilding in 2008 was an 8-5 season that ended with a win in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl. Sub-par by Miles' standards, but in the context of the entire history of LSU, it was a good season.


Frequently referred to as the "Mad Hatter" for his gutsy play calls, Miles has proven time and time again he has the “little giants” necessary to coach in the SEC.


There is likely no other coach in a BCS conference who has called as many fake punts and field goals. Furthermore, LSU has shown off a large number of well-engineered and practiced trick plays, including the fourth-down reverse call that led the Tigers inside the Alabama 10-yard line, and to an eventual touchdown.


Still, for all of hard work and success Miles is frequently targeted on fan message boards, is the subject of the website and has even made his way onto some pundits' lists for coaches being on the hot seat.


Yes, he has made mistakes, especially with clock management, yet, the criticisms that arise from these slip-ups is disproportionate for a coach with an otherwise sterling resume.


The absurd standards of LSU fans isn't limited just to the coaching staff either. Former starting quarterback Jarrett Lee has faced a lot of criticism in Baton Rouge, despite completing nearly 70 percent of his passes this year.


Sure, he might not have been the best quarterback in country or the SEC, but he had proven himself to be capable and dedicated to bringing success to LSU. Most fans at most schools would be happy to let Lee don their jersey, but for Tigers fans it seems to be Heisman quality or bust.


Les Miles has proven himself to be one of the best coaches in the country, and his vocal critics might want to temper their tone, else risk chasing the “Mad Hatter” out of Baton Rouge.


With things shaping up rather poorly at the University of Michigan, Miles' alma mater, LSU fans might want to show a little more appreciation for the coach who has brought so much success to Baton Rouge.


Further, if LSU wants to continue to be a destination spot for star players, the fan base might want to be a little bit more supportive of those donning the jerseys. Why would a star high school player want to go to a school, be successful, but then get torn apart by the fan base anyways?