DEVILLE: Miles has a golden opportunity

Is there any doubt now is the best time ever to be a Tiger fan?

It would no doubt be hard to argue that this is the greatest period ever in the history of LSU athletics.


Anyone who says otherwise needs their head examined.


One might argue that LSU was at an all-time high after Nick Saban led the Tigers to the 2003 national title. While nothing beats a national championship in football, the events of the past week have LSU at the forefront of college athletics.


First, the Tigers go into the Sugar Bowl and rout Notre Dame. While the Fighting Irish remain the darling of the national media, one could not overlook the lethal precision by which LSU dismantled Charlie Weis' team.


JaMarcus Russell carved up the Notre Dame secondary, and the Tiger defense put on a defensive clinic in limiting the Fighting Irish's high-powered offense to a mere 30 second-half yards.


LSU fans danced into the wee hours of the morning throughout the streets of New Orleans, celebrating the victory.


Prior to the Tigers' rout of Notre Dame, LSU's name was in the news as the aforementioned Saban was introduced as the new head coach of the University of Alabama. After months of speculation and numerous denials by the former Tiger boss, Saban surrendered to the Alabama Mafia for the price of $32 million.


While Tiger fans grew enraged by the arrival of Saban as the coach of hated Alabama, talk of LSU's showdown with its former coach next Nov. 3 spread quickly.

More on Saban in a minute.


It wasn't long after LSU's Sugar Storm of Notre Dame in the Superdome and the soap opera that was the Saban saga that Tiger fans' attention turned to the hardwood. John Brady's Tigers were gearing up to host Connecticut in what turned out to be the most publicized game in LSU's history.


Not only was the game versus the No. 14-ranked Huskies set to be televised in prime time on ESPN, LSU was the scene for ESPN's College Gameday – complete with the entire crew consisting of Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Hubert Davis. The Gameday crew rolled into town on Friday, joined Brady for his weekly radio show at Walk-Ons on Friday night, then were live and in living color from the floor of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center Saturday morning.


Over 12,000 fans packed into the Maravich Center Saturday night. And with Dick Vitale sitting courtside with the call, the Tigers rallied back then ran past Jim Calhoun's UConn Huskies 66-49.


Brady said afterward that ESPN's Phelps commented to the 10th-year coach that LSU's fans and the PMAC atmosphere was as good as he has seen anywhere in the country.

Has LSU finally arrived as one of college basketball's big boys?



I promised myself I wouldn't go into some long diatribe about former LSU coach Nick Saban and his midnight train ride out of Miami bound for Tuscaloosa.


There have been plenty of editorials, columns and opinions expressed about Saban and the way he lied his way right out of South Beach. The 55-year-old Saban has been called everything from a liar to a weasel to Satan himself. It was ironic that in the very same building where three years earlier, almost to the day, Saban raised that crystal football after winning the national championship, the ex-LSU coach was vilified by once-adoring LSU fans.


Near the end of the Tigers' Sugar Bowl triumph, the LSU student section in Louisiana's Superdome chanted in unison "Saban Sucks."


Oh, how the mighty fall!


Instead of jumping on the band wagon berating the former Dolphins coach, I wish to go in another direction. Let's talk about what this means for LSU – and especially for Les Miles.


Ever since Miles arrived in Baton Rouge, the second-year LSU coach has heard in so many different ways how Saban would have done this or that, and how successfully he would have achieved this or that, and so forth. Miles may act as if he has turned a deaf ear to it all, but – just as Saban is going to find out in Alabama with Bear Bryant's shadow – Miles has been enshrouded in Saban's mystique since he arrived in Baton Rouge on Jan. 4, 2005.


That can all change now.


With Saban standing up to be counted with the enemy, all of those who swooned over the former Tiger coach have now developed an intolerable hatred for him. The thought of Saban in Alabama crimson turns the stomach of a lot of purple-and-gold-wearing fans.


What an opportunity for Miles to benefit from this.


It is rally-around-the-leader time at LSU, and no time is better for Miles to win over the entire LSU fan base. He is 22-4 as LSU's coach, is 2-0 in bowl games, having defeated the likes of Miami and Notre Dame by a combined score of 81-17, and has been very successful on the recruiting trail.


The only thing Les needs now is to march into Tuscaloosa next Nov. 3 and defeat the man once thought to be the savior in Baton Rouge. Slaying Saban will cement Miles' place in Tiger lore and set the tone for the future of LSU football.




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

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