DEVILLE: Miles gaining favor with fans?

What a difference one week makes. Well, make that five days.

Just a week ago, LSU was ranked No. 3 in the nation, riding a wave of emotion after a pair of devastating hurricanes and getting ready to play the Tennessee Volunteers in a game which was to be a true spectacle in the world of college football.


While LSU fans were a bit uneasy after a shaky defensive performance at Arizona State, Tiger fans were still very much on the Les Miles bandwagon and believers in what the first-year head coach was doing.


But in the course of one week, Tiger Town was turned upside down – not by another hurricane – yet a humiliating loss to the Volunteers, a game in which LSU blew a 21-point lead and lost 30-27 in overtime.


Fans turned on Miles quicker than you could say Rick Clausen criticizing the former Oklahoma State coach on everything from his sophomoric, chest-butting antics when taking the field to his poor clock management to his Madonna-like headset.


Talk radio and Internet message boards were supercharged with enraged Tiger fans calling for Miles head just two games into his tenure as LSU head coach.


With a delayed production schedule due to the game being moved to Monday night, the Tiger Rag staff scrambled to produce a midweek edition recapping the Tennessee game and previewing LSU's trip to Mississippi State.


Usually, I try and come up with some clever verbage for our cover to properly sum up the game. While I settled on "Colossal Collapse," other possibilities included "Les offers Less," "Miles from Perfect" even "Les' Miserables" were considered. I personally liked the latter, but was unsure how up to snuff Tiger fans were on their Broadway terminology.


ESPN senior writer Pat Forde was much wittier in the fact he compared Miles relationship to Tiger fans to a controversial divorce. Forde wrote "the romance ended quicker than the Zellweger-Chesney marriage," making reference to the four-month union of actress Renee Zellweger to country superstar Kenny Chesney.


"That's why he (Forde) is at ESPN at you are at Tiger Rag," said my Tiger Rag Friday co-host Jeff Palermo about my proposed French summation of Miles' misfortune against the Vols.


At any rate, while I carefully searched for fitting words to properly illustrate Miles' fall from grace, Tiger fans came from the woodworks offering plenty of commentary on the subject. Let's just say, in the after math of the Tennessee debacle, it required no Pulitzer Prize-winning piece of journalism to spark a flame under an already incensed fanbase. My e-mail inbox was proof enough.


One fan wrote:


"I don't want to be a "nay sayer", but (Nick) Saban would not have let the team loose that game. Here's my take. We have a Big 12 coach and a Big 12 defensive coordinator. Reminds me of (Gerry) DiNardo and that jerk he brought in from Illinois.


"They just don't play football anywhere else in the country like the SEC. They (Big 12)  talk "smash-mouth" football, but in the SEC we really play it. Soft, "wait and look" defense will get you killed in our conference. We have too talented a group of defensive players to have given up 62 points and 440 yards a game. If (Les) Miles wants his players to "get after" people he's going to have to start the trend. I guess my biggest disappointment is Jimbo (Fisher).


"He played scared and his players followed suit. I travel all over the country and work construction, but I'm always with them Tigers and seldom have I been so disappointed."



Another fan blamed not only Miles but athletic director Skip Bertman:


"On Les Miles... why was he hired in the first place?  I feel like Butch Davis was our first choice and we couldn't get him.  The guy at Louisville (Bobby Petrino) was probably second choice.  I had never heard of Miles and I follow college football pretty closely. I hope he works out. But, if he doesn't, I hope that (Skip) Bertman doesn't stubbornly stick with him and end up tearing down everything that's been built in the past five years."


The public sentiment definitely isn't favoring Miles these days. Voices of reason have tried to soothe the unhappy Tiger following stating due to the circumstances – two hurricanes, no tune-up game, playing two Top 15 teams – that Miles should be given a reprieve; seriously, it has only been two games.


Remember, there was an outcry for even the great Saban's head after a 13-10 loss to UAB in 2000. The Tigers former coach was booed during a 2001 loss to Ole Miss and was called out in a season in which he led the Tigers to their first SEC crown in 15 years.


Was it a bit premature to call for Miles' job?




The only way Miles can heal the infected wound opened up by the Tennessee loss is to win games. LSU got off to a good start handling Mississippi State on Saturday.


The next two opponents – Vanderbilt and Florida – look far less threatening than they did before losing to Middle Tennessee State and Alabama respectively over the weekend.


So in the words of Saban himself, the sun did rise and the sky has been somewhat replaced and things look far less bleak than they did just five days ago.


However, as Miles and even Saban know, that can change in an instant at LSU.




 Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag Magazine. Reach him at

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