The history between LSU and Alabama on the gridiron is something of legend. Famous battles between teacher Paul Bear Bryant from Alabama and his student Charles McClendon, who took over the program at LSU, are epic in nature for anyone growing up in the 60s or 70s as a fan of either school.
The latest decade of battles between the two have been some of the most memorable and arguably the most important games from a national perspective. Certainly, the added drama of Nick Saban coaching at both programs has added intrigue to the contests, but what of his sometimes maligned successor at LSU, Les Miles?
Miles gets quite a bit of criticism leveled at him from LSU fans each year. I will admit that some of it is certainly warranted, but he sustained the LSU program at the pinnacle of college football overall and is on a very short list of the most successful football coaches in this generation.
Care to guess how many programs would love to have the Hat on their sidelines? I would suggest to LSU fans who inevitably get perturbed with the sometimes bizarre play-calling and baffling sound bytes that Les is simply being Les, and you have to take the good with the bad.
I have two words for people who clamor for his demise at LSU like clockwork each year: Curly Hallman.
Mike Archer comes to mind as well. Both were known for being really good guys, but the Tigers program started a downward death spiral under them. Remember the days when LSU football was more akin to Vanderbilt? I do, and I will bet many LSU fans do as well. Take a look at how quickly the Arkansas program has become a landfill and count your blessings that Les is still in Tiger town.
The man to thank for the starting the renaissance is none other than public enemy no. 1 in Baton Rouge: Nick Saban. Possessing a penchant for putting out dumpster fires, Saban rolled into an inferno in Baton Rouge and before he left for the NFL, he restored LSU to their place among the nation’s elite, capturing the school’s first national title since 1958.
As much as LSU fans may feel jilted by Saban selling his wares to Alabama, remember who made the Tigers relevant again. While you are chewing on that one, consider that it’s Les Miles who has kept them relevant and added a national title of his own along with another title game appearance on his watch.
This weekend’s game will be another storied contest for two of the nation’s most historic programs with very different, but highly successful coaches leading each team.