Twitter exploded Saturday night with wild speculation that Miles had an inappropriate relationship with a student and would step down at a press conference on Monday.
In yet another reminder not to believe everything you see on the Internet, CBSSports.com college football expert Bruce Feldman tweeted that LSU sources debunked the crazy talk of Miles’ supposed misdeeds:
Talked to a source at LSU tonight.. there is no truth to that wild rumor.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) March 3, 2013
Even though the SEC experienced a similar scandal last offseason, with the revelation that former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino was having an affair with a staffer, the news that Miles is in the clear shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who paid attention to the sources of the rumor.
One of the original tweets came from Sam McGaw, a broadcast journalism student at Western Kentucky (coincidentally, the school where Petrino was just hired).
There are rumors that LSU head football coach Les Miles will step down on Monday after allegedly having an affair with a student. Hmm…
— Sam McGaw (@sammcgaw) March 3, 2013
How would he know? He’s a college student, so perhaps he knew, or knew of, the student with whom Miles was alleged to be involved? Or perhaps he’s another crackerjack undergrad reporter, like Jack Dickey, who helped Deadspin blow the cover off Manti Te’o's fake girlfriend?
Nope, he found it on a message board. An Alabama message board. Oy.
Even before Feldman’s tweet discredited the rumor, that should have been one big Crimson flag that this story wasn’t true.
McGaw spent the rest of the evening fending off attackers, from LSU fans wishing him a slow, painful death, to actual journalists chiding him for spreading rumors without doing the research. He repeatedly maintained that he never said it was true – he wasn’t the first person to tweet it, he thought everyone had already heard, and he called it an “alleged rumor” from the beginning. He also gained more than 5,000 new Twitter followers once the bombshell got traced back to his feed.
Why a Western Kentucky student was hanging out on Alabama message boards anyway remains a mystery. McGaw tweeted that he was given a tip about the rumor and wanted to check it out, but like everything about this rumor, that story feels a little off.
The good news is that it isn’t true. The Mad Hatter is one of the top coaches in the game, not to mention one of the most entertaining. An affair with a student would almost certainly have ended Miles’ tenure at LSU, and college football is better off with him nibbling grass on the sidelines.