The sky may not be falling in Baton Rouge but that doesn’t mean the seat LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles sits on isn’t getting warmer.
Miles has as impressive of a resume as any in college football over his past seven seasons, winning the 2007 BCS national championship and capturing two Southeastern Conference championships. In that same time he has collected 80 wins, becoming the only coach to go 12-0 and 13-0 in LSU history just last year.
While the aforementioned numbers are impressive, they are deceiving.
Miles joined LSU after accumulating just a 28-21 record at Oklahoma State, including a 7-5 record in 2004. Most coaches with that kind of resume would be happy to keep their job after living in the shade of mediocrity; Miles on the other hand won the coaching lottery.
No longer in the shadow of the Oklahoma Sooners, Miles was placed in charge of one of college football’s well oiled machines. The Tigers had just come off a national championship two years prior and when Nick Saban departed for the Miami Dolphins the cupboard was chalk full of talent. Miles inherited a roster laden with NFL prospects and blue chip recruits; many of whom became the foundation to the Tigers 2007 national championship.
However even the best machines need to be maintained.
While you can buy a car fresh off the lot and drive at peak performance, if it is not maintained it is just a matter of time before the thing falls apart. LSU should consider the loss to the Florida Gators as a sign the check engine light came on. Yes, it was just one game, however 2012 has revealed a team that looks to be slipping in recent weeks after three consecutive lackluster performances.
Gone are the days when LSU would out-physical teams into submission, pounding teams for three quarters before delivering the knockout blow in the fourth quarter. The Tigers not only failed to get any push on the offensive line, but could not stop the Gators late as Florida stole the game by scoring on consecutive drives by running the ball 17 of 18 plays.
Gone are the days when LSU had enough depth to field multiple division one football teams. The Tigers have been plagued by injuries this season, yes, but there is no longer someone ready to step in and fill the void.
The team the Tigers once were no longer exists.
As I write this the LSU Tigers are still a very good team, considered to be one of the top 10 in the country. However, the key to maintaining that top 10 status for years to come is to fix their issues now before they become long term problems.
One of the hot coaching rumors in the southeast has the Auburn Tigers making a play for former University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino at the end of the season. However, if LSU falls for a second straight week to the South Carolina Gamecocks then drop another contest or two it may be the Tigers from Baton Rouge emerging as the front runner for Mr. Petrino’s services.