LSU Football: Miles Putting the Student Back in Student-Athlete

Brett Stephen@@brettstephenAnalyst IIDecember 8, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Head coach Les Miles and the LSU Tigers celebrate their 42-10 win over the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Many, including myself, have been very critical of LSU head coach Les Miles over the past few years. But despite criticisms, the Mad Hatter is doing some things right in Baton Rouge.

Miles took over an LSU football program that, on the field of play, was left in pretty good shape by his predecessor Nick Saban.

But Saban’s Tigers were not exactly dominating in the classroom. When Miles took over the team, the graduation rate for LSU football players was at 53 percent. Since then, the Tigers have moved up to No. 2 in the SEC with a graduation rate of 77 percent, second only to Vanderbilt.

In a study released today by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES), LSU ranks eighth in graduation rate among the 70 schools playing in bowl games this season.

Miles has the football program at LSU on track both on the field and in the classroom, proving that you don’t have to sacrifice intelligence to win if you recruit student athletes and not just athletes.

LSU fans should be proud of what Miles has done in Baton Rouge. Despite his crazy antics and occasional questionable decisions on the field, he is changing a culture within the Tiger football program.

Academics had been neglected for the past decade, starting with head coach Gerry DiNardo and carried on by Saban.

Miles is proving that, as a head coach and a leader, he is far superior to Saban.