10 reasons firing Les Miles would be really dumb (unless Jimbo Fisher is sealed)

It might happen.

It seems as though the political and financial winds are swirling to the point that it WILL happen.

We’re not dismissing the real possibility that it COULD happen.

However, it never SHOULD happen, with the possible allowance of one very tenuous exception which we’ll address below.

Les Miles really could be fired at LSU. The heat is building after a lopsided loss at Ole Miss on Saturday, which TSS writer Chris Abshire so skillfully evaluated here.  Chris has enjoyed a level of proximity to the situation in Baton Rouge which outsiders (such as myself) lack. I realize that longstanding grumblings surrounding Miles — verily, the complaints about his always-large and obvious flaws such as game management and offensive philosophy — have given rise to this tense and volatile dynamic. Yet, intellectually, it’s hard to square with the idea that The Hat could be given the ax.

This won’t be some long and complicated labyrinth of an essay. Very simply — cutting through the B.S. — let’s present the 10 foremost reasons why this is a dumb, dumb, dumb move if LSU should in fact choose to make it.




Sure, records entering November — if achieved against the backdrop of a comfortable schedule — can and will be exposed by a backloaded schedule toward the end of the season. That said, LSU maxed out against the easier part of its schedule. Alabama is the SEC’s one really good team. Ole Miss is a good team. Each of those games were on the road. Only the loss at home to Arkansas should be seen as a result LSU should have tucked into the win column. The idea that a 7-3 team, even with a three-game losing streak, is performing at a level which should terminate the coach’s employment — given the larger context in which Miles is operating — is not inherently ridiculous.


It is, however, an idea which has to be supported by convincing contextual evidence.


To this point… let’s continue with No. 9.




If you’re inclined to say that this is little different from Bo Pelini, stop.




Les Miles has won multiple SEC titles. Had the BCS properly placed Oklahoma State as LSU’s opponent in the 2012 BCS National Championship Game, Miles would likely own two national titles.


Second, Bo Pelini consistently found a way to lose at least four games per season at Nebraska.


Number of seasons in which Les Miles has lost fewer than four games at LSU, in a tougher conference than either the Big 12 or the Big Ten: 7.


Number of seasons in which Miles has lost fewer than THREE games: 5.








This is not Bo Pelini.


This means that after a period of relative drift, Miles has a substantially different career track record to fall back on. Remember: Pelini never won a conference title or reached a BCS/New Year’s Six bowl. Not once.


These are wildly different situations when viewed through the prism of resumes.




Hmmm… seems Les Miles and LSU aren’t the only Tigers to start quickly and then lose three straight.

Fuente and Memphis have followed the same basic path. Fuente’s going to get a lot more money for his trouble, one way or the other.


When a successful and proven coach struggles to reach the proverbial next level after a period of time, he needs to jettison his assistants. You don’t fire the boss, you fire the people the boss has surrounded himself with, at least the ones who aren’t carrying the operation forward.


See No. 7.


A Bayou buyout this large smacks of considerable hubris and wastefulness. Would the world end if LSU gave Miles one last chance in 2016 to get this thing right? Consider not just the buyout itself, but the context in which it might be paid. Surely, there’s a better way for an athletic department to be a custodian of resources. On money alone, this should not happen, but at least ask yourself if the expenditure is worth it, given the caliber of coach which might be terminated in the coming days.


Texas A&M’s coach is stealing money far more than Miles is. Sumlin carried a glowing reputation to College Station, and if he finds the next Johnny Manziel, he could revive A&M once again. However, his last three seasons have been clear-cut failures relative to resources and expectations. His resume is almost barren compared to Miles. If you were to line up the SEC’s coaches and rate them in terms of best or worst job performance over the course of a full tenure, Sumlin would stand in the middle. Miles has been the second-best coach in the SEC over the past five seasons. You could perhaps make a case for Steve Spurrier or Gary Pinkel, but remember that they operated in the East, not the far tougher West.

Miles might not seem that great until you consider what his colleagues are doing.

Speaking of The Hat’s colleagues in the SEC…


LSU punked Auburn earlier this season. The Bayou Bengals humiliated the Tigers and Will Muschamp, not to mention Muschamp’s boss. Malzahn is Wile E. Coyote, who says “Super Genius!” to himself after Bugs Bunny has blown up his secret laboratory. This is a coaching career that’s on the ropes…

… but sure, LSU, your coach is the one that’s not getting it done.




No, I’m not saying Richt should be fired. However, if we’re going to compare two coaches at SEC schools who have been around for quite some time and have fallen into a stale period, Richt should certainly be the first to go. His accomplishments are significant, but not in the same class as what Miles has done. He has achieved a lot less than Les over the past 10 seasons, and in the SEC’s weaker division.

LSU firing Miles while Richt stays on the job in Athens would bring about yet another case of cognitive dissonance.


This is the biggest reason LSU’s move to fire Miles — if it is executed — seems unwise in the extreme.

If LSU is going to engineer this transition in power, surely Fisher — the offensive coordinator on Nick Saban’s 2003 national championship team in Baton Rouge — has to be the first, second, fifth, and ninth candidate for the job. In essence, LSU has to know it can spend a king’s ransom to secure Fisher’s services. The school has to know Fisher will say yes before it hands Miles a pink slip.

So, would Fisher want to leave Tallahassee? Why would he?

Fisher has an easier conference (and division); one really huge game he can count on each season (Clemson), as opposed to three or maybe four; a football school with resources and all the tradition you could want as a coach. It’s a great situation.

Only if LSU knows it has Fisher in the bag should it even consider this move, but that’s part of the point: In the absence of knowing, giving Miles another season to make staff changes and bring about improvements is the decent thing to do… and also the money-saving thing to do.

Fire Miles? It’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo, a move that’s a no-go… unless Jimbo wants to eat more gumbo.

About Matt Zemek

Editor, @TrojansWire | CFB writer since 2001 |