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Sports

Klaus: Time for LSU to say goodbye to Les Miles

| Friday, September 9, 2016

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking in LSU–Wisconsin, one of the more entertaining games of college football’s inaugural week. As part of the experience, I had the opportunity to see first-hand the vapid “offense” that has simultaneously frustrated LSU fans for the past few years and barricaded the team from qualifying for the College Football Playoff. The result, a sloppy 16-14 defeat at the hands of unranked Wisconsin, points to one simple conclusion: it is definitely time for LSU and its head coach, Les Miles, to part ways.

Of course, rumors swirled about Miles’ job security after last year’s 7-0 team eroded down the stretch. Eventually, whether it was because top replacement candidates like Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher were unavailable/uninterested or some other reason, LSU decided to retain Miles and he triumphantly was carried out of Tiger Stadium after LSU ended a three-game skid by defeating Texas A&M in the final week of the regular season.

Despite this triumphant ending to a precarious final month of the season, the very same issues that had fueled Miles’ hot seat were readily apparent during Saturday’s loss and likely will be easily identifiable over LSU’s next few games. Like it has the last three seasons, LSU’s quarterback situation was dreadful. Brandon Harris, who was the only quarterback to attempt a pass in last year’s woefully inefficient passing offense, looked just as undeveloped as he did during LSU’s abhorrent three-game losing streak last November. The archaic offensive design, which includes a number of inefficient pitch plays and futile pass attempts, looked unchanged from last season.

In fact, the only noticeable change on offense from last year was the fact that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who himself has been trapped in Miles’ outdated system, worked from the sidelines, which Miles already decided will not be the case for Week 2.

When looking at the landscape of the FBS holistically, it is hard to say that any coach has done less with more than Les Miles. This season, the Tigers returned nearly 80 percent of its tackles and 82 percent of its sacks to a defense that is loaded with former blue-chip prospects. LSU also boasts a guy named Leonard Fournette, a once-in-a-generation running back who had 138 rushing yards Saturday in what many considered an “off game.” When taking LSU’s talent and experience into account, it will truly be impressive, in an undesirable way of course, if they end the year in mediocre standing as they have over the past few seasons.

In a sport characterized by unrealistic expectations and excessive turnover among head coaches, it is always an interesting exercise to observe coaches who have improbably overstayed their welcome and survived the botched implementation and development of their ineffectual systems. Just like a hypothetical defensive coordinator who sees his defenses filled with top recruits get repeatedly gashed in big games but still remains in a position of influence, Les Miles has clearly reached a point where his methodology and coaching is no longer putting LSU in the best position to reach its potential.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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