DEVILLE: Miles tabbed as man to replace the man

It is amazing how time flies.

While the typical calendar year begins in January, the internal clocks of Tiger fans reset during the first week of August.

With seven months already in the books in the year 2005, it seems strange to be speaking of a new year. But with the dawn of another season of Tiger football, strike up the band to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne," or more appropriately "Fight for LSU."

Speaking of the New Year, the first few days of January have meant a great deal to legion of fans that follow Tiger football over the past few years. Two winters ago, LSU climbed to the top of the college football mountain the first week of January raising a crystal football in the Superdome.

Nick Saban led his Bayou Bengals to the program's first national title in 45 years, a summit many dreamed, but few ever believed the Tigers would again reach. One year later, those same fans sat in anxious anticipation as the successor for their coveted leader to be named.

Only a week earlier, on what Elvis would truly call a "Blue Christmas," Saban uttered the words Tiger fans feared throughout his half-decade holdover in Tigertown. The man who had led LSU to the Promised Land had finally forsaken his following for the big bucks of the NFL.

Some were bitter, others wished him well. But in Saban's wake, everyone knew the focus must turn toward the future, a future that became reality on Jan. 3 with the announcement of LSU's 32nd football coach - Les Miles.

For the past seven months now, the LSU faithful have spent countless hours familiarizing themselves with Miles' mantra. Like never before, an LSU coach was placed under the microscope – his lingo, mannerisms, qualifications, his family – no one (including this writer) could go nowhere without someone asking the question, "so what do you think of Les Miles?"

There was a certain mystique surrounding the man who was to replace "the man." Even Miles was mystified by the fan's unrelenting fascination. The 51-year-old ex-Oklahoma State coach spent three months touring the state with a distinguished LSU contingency. At each stop, the Bo Schembechler prodigy was met with constant reminders of the religion that is Tiger football.

With Miles' debut one month away and the opening of August drills, coaches, players and fans alike begin the systematic preparations for another year within the hallowed walls of a new-look Tiger Stadium. Although some may not sit in the seats to which they are accustomed for the season opener versus North Texas, the air will be filled with the right mix of food, fun and football measured just to the right specifications.

In our 28th year of serving LSU fans, Tiger Rag Magazine brings to you our annual Football Preview edition. Over these 120 pages, we bring you every angle of Tiger football. From position breakdowns to in-depth analysis, we preview LSU football from every angle.

We introduce fans to Les Miles, his staff and team and give you our take on who is going to do what in the SEC and beyond. We welcome a revamped staff of writers, introduce you to a few new faces and are honored to welcome a distinguished panel to experts on a variety of subjects.

Lyn Scarborough of Lindy's Magazine graces our pages with a look at the SEC while the Orlando Sentinel's David Srinivasan tackles the national college scene. Our esteemed cast of columnists – Lee Feinswog, Jim Engster and Rannah Gray – give their take on the upcoming season while we bid adieu to longtime writer Jimmy Hyams.

One of the most notable experts in the SEC, Hyams turns in his (Tiger) stripes leaving Tiger Rag after 18 years of dedicated service as other duties await him elsewhere. We wish to thank Jimmy for his loyalty to the magazine for almost two decades and wish him the best in future endeavors.

For the first time in recent years, we bring to you an in-depth summer recruiting recap. Our recruiting editor Sonny Shipp presents a detailed breakdown by position of the top recruits on the board this summer. Also, he updates Tiger Rag's Louisiana Top 30, our ranking of the top prospects within the state.

Debuting our newest feature, staff writer Brian Giandelone spotlights Tiger Tailgating. We pass along a look inside two of the most recognizable tailgating groups, plus our readers came forth with an assortment of their favorite recipes. Also, he outlines the places to go and things do while traveling on the road in the SEC.

It is all here in the premiere source for LSU sports, Tiger Rag Magazine: 28 years and counting.

Matt Deville

Executive Editor

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