Les Miles is Losing...Told You So

nick oldCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

The things that seem obvious to me may not seem so to most (as I have come to learn). I do not make outlandish predictions to garner attention. I make predictions that many do not understand because they haven't exercised independent, non-guided thought.

Perhaps they don't possess the capacity for such thought (you would be surprised how many people are actually incapable of this) it's not easy. But the predictions I make are extremely logical. I also take into account the intangibles.

People think that throwing stats around in conversation makes their case. Though stats do aid an argument, they do not MAKE the argument.

The truth is, the intangibles (weather, emotion, clutch decision-making, coaching decisions, your gut, etc.) are what influence and create stats, not the other way around.

The LSU faithful got all torn up this summer when I said that the SEC West race was wide open when Ryan Perrilloux got booted from the team. Would anyone like to question me now?

No one could have predicted exactly how the two QBs would perform for LSU, which is why I didn't. But you knew they would struggle.

Two guys who were new to the program who may not have really sucked in the offense last season (because everyone knew Perrilloux was to be the starter) were now expected to run the offense of the defending National Champs.

Tiger fans wouldn't believe this because they didn't want to (that whole independent thought thing).

I then talked about how Les Miles really isn't that great of a coach. Gasp! "He's won a National Championship. His record is so-and-so!"

Intangibles, people.

Les Miles is losing recruits to the Urban Meyer's and Nick Saban's of the world. LSU fans won't accept that Saban and his staff are far superior to Miles and his. Once Bo Pelini left, you knew that the staff wasn't that great anymore.

I understand that LSU fans are probably the most passionate around. But for them to have such passion, they can't allow for objectivity. If they had objectivity, they wouldn't be in Miles' corner as much as they are.

Miles has made questionable call after questionable call in his career at LSU. He proved last year that, yes, someone can be lucky for an entire year.

There is no doubt that LSU was the best team in the country last year. But more and more of the uber recruits signed by Saban were leaving LSU due to graduation.

Saban taught these players to practice, study, play, and live like champions. Not taking away from Les Miles as a teacher, but that's a tough act to mimic. You either have it or you don't. He may have a little of "it," but nothing like his predecessor has.

I also spoke of how Miles was geared to bolt for Michigan. This is truth. Kirk Herbstreit let the cat out of the bag, and a previously in-the-dark LSU administration quickly threw huge contract at Miles (for about a nickel more money than Saban makes... hmm) after he had a desperate emergency news conference to cover his own hide.

He didn't want such a good football team to fall apart and lose his chance at an SEC and National Championship. It worked and Miles made the best decision for his team...kind of.

Les Miles was now stuck. He promised not to leave and did not want to look like Saban had as a betrayer. Or as Miles calls him, "devil." If Miles sounds threatened by LSU's first love (whom we never forget), that's because he is.

He knew last year that Saban was going to steal more of his recruits and that he would have to play him every year. The Bo Schembechler disciple was headed to his alma mater.

Schembechler was a father figure for Miles. He also knew he could recruit better at Michigan with less competition for recruits.

Miles is not a dumb guy. He just makes stupid, irrational decisions. The emergency press conference to deny allegations of his departure was a good one in the short term, but not in the long term.

Evidence: this season. With huge expectations and the most talented mix of offensive linemen and defensive front seven, Miles is being out-coached.

There are two kinds of coaching decisions: 1) decisions that help your team, and 2) no decisions at all, just letting the team feel its way through games and going with conservatism.

The former will win games. The latter won't win games, but it also won't lose games. Then there is Les Miles, who introduced a third kind of coaching decision to us: decisions that hurt his team.

All the fourth down "go-for-it's" are ridiculous and can hurt LSU just as much as they helped. Last year was the luckiest season I have ever seen by a coach/team.

If Miles' preposterous fourth-down conversion percentage were any lower last year, the Bayou Bengals would not be the defending National Champions this year.

It is true that going for it on fourth can energize your team, but it can also be detrimental to their psyches.

Miles was simply outclassed yesterday. He knew how good Alabama's defense was and how Jarrett Lee, a 19-year old kid, had been turning the ball over a lot. Yet he refuses to game plan with this in mind.

Charles Scott and Keiland Williams are running well. Don't let Lee lose you the game. It's too much pressure for a guy in his situation. LSU has more talent than Alabama, and they almost won the game because of it.

Neither the team nor Jarrett Lee lost the game. Nor did Saban and Alabama win it. Les Miles lost it, just as I predicted he might.

He had Lee throwing the ball all over Tiger Stadium. Lee's QB rating was awful. He was showing no improvement, he had no confidence, yet Miles forced him to the air. Well, he and his coordinator. But Miles has ultimate control.

Overtime is the perfect example.

Not wanting to be forced to kick again for the win after the field goal try at the end of regulation was blocked, even Nick Saban made a questionable decision to throw to Julio Jones.

But at least we can sort through his thought process: the best receiver in the stadium in one-on-one coverage; not wanting to have to kick another field goal for the win; taking a shot when they least expect, etc.

Les Miles, on the other hand, effectively cost his team the game by having Lee throw. What does Lee do? He throws to a double-covered receiver and is intercepted. The pick all but sealed the victory for the Tide.

You have the ball first. You have got to be conservative. Especially when you have an offensive line that dominated Alabama's front seven, especially in the first half.

I realize that the Alabama run defense had stiffened in the second half, but you take away your team's confidence when you don't allow them to run the ball...especially in overtime when you HAVE to run it; AND when you have the ball FIRST.

Point taken?

Les Miles and LSU are still going to be pretty good the next few years, but don't be surprised when they have not-so-great teams.

They have more talent than any other team in the SEC, but Miles' decision-making will neutralize it. Luckily for Miles, he has a great recruiting base in Louisiana, unlike Tennessee's Phil Fulmer, he doesn't have to go far for talent.

This will save him until he leaves the school. He will still have a good career record, but when that day comes, remember who predicted yet another logical/obvious scenario.

If Rich Rodriguez can't vindicate the terrible season the Wolverines are having (which I also predicted) in the next couple years, Miles will head north, err... home.


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