Following the LSU Tigers' disappointing 2-2 start to the 2016 season, head football coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired on Sunday, with defensive line coach Ed Orgeron assuming interim head coaching duties.
Joe Alleva, LSU's vice chancellor and director of athletics, provided a statement on the decision, via Michael Bonnette of LSU's official athletics website:
Decisions like this are never easy ones to make. Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult.
However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made. Our commitment to excellence and competing at the highest level is unwavering, and our goals for the remainder of this season haven’t changed. We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week and we have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.
Alleva, LSU president F. King Alexander and a selected group of LSU Board members made the decision to relieve Miles and Cameron of their duties at about 2 p.m. Sunday. Alleva met with Miles afterward, and the coach took the news "well," a source said. Later, during what became an emotional players meeting, Miles said he was "for the change," defensive back Tre'Davious White said.
As for Cameron, Andrew Lopez of the Times-Picayune reported Orgeron made the decision to fire the offensive coordinator. Chris Low of ESPN confirmed the report, saying, "Orgeron was given the license to make whatever changes he deemed necessary on the Tigers' staff."
Miles appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday and said he "will support the decision as we go forward," per Dellenger.
"I accepted that outcome and will support the decision and these Tigers," Miles said during his appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com.
The former head coach said, "Anything that makes the Tigers better, I'm for," per Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com. Miles also said he thinks Orgeron "will do a great job for them" in his place, per Dellenger.
Miles, who took over the program in 2005, leaves Baton Rouge having won the second-most games in school history (114). He had a bright start to his LSU tenure, winning the Sugar Bowl in his second season and the national championship in his third year on the sideline.
The Tigers haven't reached those heights since, though, aside from a national title defeat to the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2011, and after Saturday's crushing 18-13 loss to the Auburn Tigers, Miles' ouster was only a matter of time.
Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee thought the decision should have been made long before the year got underway.
Last November, it looked like the ax was about to fall on Miles. Rumors swirled regarding his departure until Alleva confirmed Miles would see out the rest of the year.
Expectations were high in Baton Rouge after the Associated Press ranked LSU fifth in its preseason poll this year. Then came the Tigers' opening-week defeat to the Wisconsin Badgers and the Sept. 24 loss to Auburn, a game they lost despite not allowing a touchdown.
Some will question the timing of Miles' firing. LSU lost to Wisconsin after Brandon Harris threw an interception as the Tigers were moving into position for a go-ahead score. In Week 4, LSU appeared to have scored a game-winning touchdown as time expired before officials determined the team snapped the ball after the game had ended.
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Playing the what-if game doesn't change anything, but if the Tigers were 3-1 or 4-0, Miles' job likely wouldn't have been in jeopardy.
Rolling with Orgeron on an interim basis could hurt LSU's recruiting as well, as ESPN.com's Jeremy Crabtree noted.
According to 247Sports' composite rankings, LSU has the fourth-best recruiting class in 2017. Orgeron is a great recruiter, but that may not matter much for high school players looking for stability in the coaching staff.
Miles' critics will argue that little has changed for the team, no matter what the record says. The passing game continues to be anemic—ranking 119th in the FBS in passing yards—which has put too much pressure on Leonard Fournette and the running game. The end of Saturday's contest was also too familiar for fans who have questioned Miles' clock management.
Under Miles, LSU appeared to be on its way to another nine- or 10-win season, which is successful for most schools but a disappointment for the Tigers, especially when compared to what head coach Nick Saban is doing at Alabama.
Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports alluded to a feeling of stagnation that crept in at the school.
The question now is who will LSU bring in to succeed Miles on a permanent basis?
Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman will be at the top of the list for many. Houston went 13-1 in his first season, which ended with a Peach Bowl victory over the Florida State Seminoles. In 2016, Herman has the undefeated Cougars poised to compete for a College Football Playoff spot.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher has connections to LSU, having worked as an assistant in Baton Rouge under Saban. Last December, Dellenger and Elizabeth Crisp reported for the Advocate that Fisher and the Tigers had negotiated about potentially replacing Miles.
Art Briles and Louisville Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino will also likely be in the running, but off-field concerns could cool LSU's interest in both candidates.
The Baylor Bears fired Briles following an investigation into the school's handling of sexual assault allegations. In 2012, the Arkansas Razorbacks fired Petrino after he was involved in a motorcycle accident along with a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.
Unless LSU is willing to hire Briles, who is without a team, the school will have to wait until the end of the year before appointing another head coach. Getting rid of Miles now, however, allows the Tigers to get the wheels in motion toward hiring their preferred target.