DEVILLE: Les Miles' "preconceived notions"

It is hard to criticize LSU coach Les Miles on any issue.

I mean, for crying out loud, the guy is 22-4 in two seasons at LSU. We are constantly reminded that his first two seasons are the best start to any coach's tenure in LSU history.

Plus, his back-to-back 11-win seasons is the first time any coach has even put together back-to-back 10-plus win seasons.


Like I said, that's hard to argue with.


But if Miles is so good at winning "games," then what is his problem with playing a "game" he has no chance of losing?


The Tigers closed out spring drills last Saturday with the Super Tiger Bowl. The first organized spring game held since Nick Saban was the coach at LSU, the 2007 spring practice finale was quite a production.


The game, held at high noon last Saturday, was complete with separate teams, a running clock, operational scoreboard, the Tiger Band, fans in the stand – and even a live radio broadcast. And keeping with the theme of Super Tiger Bowl, former LSU players who have been a part of Super Bowl championship teams served as honorary team captains.


What a great job by LSU to put together an event that not only the fans could enjoy, but the players as well. Besides, it's the players who have been beating each others' heads in for the past four weeks. Why not give them an opportunity to have some fun, hang out with some of their successful former teammates as well as entertain the fans. Then afterwards, they get to enjoy the spoils of victory with the winning team eating steak – the losers get hot dogs.


What a win-win situation for everyone, right?


Les Miles doesn't think so.


As a matter of fact, the third-year LSU coach admitted he was adamantly opposed to the event from the start but later gave in after pressure from all parties involved.


"I succumbed to the pressure, that's the only reason (they are having a game)," Miles said last Thursday following the Tigers' final spring practice.


Miles said he was pressured not only by fans, but by everyone around him.


"I think everybody," Miles said. "The assistant coaches, the players, and the fans."


Miles had held controlled scrimmages to close out his first two spring practice periods at LSU. While fans were admitted to the two scrimmages, attendance had dwindled to virtually nothing.


"(You get) so much out of a controlled scrimmage," Miles said. "The spontaneity of a live game is removed."


Not to split hairs, but when LSU takes the field on Aug. 30 at Mississippi State, that will be a live game, right? Hopefully there is spontaneity then.


At any rate, while Miles gave in this year, he said don't expect the same in 2008.


"I am not going to say we are going to do it every year like this," Miles said. "But we're going to take a look."


Miles said he never had a "spring game" in any of his four seasons at Oklahoma State.


"It was always a controlled scrimmage," Miles said. "As a matter of fact, this will be the first spring game I will have been associated with as a head coach."


But Stillwater isn't quite Baton Rouge, is it? And Oklahoma State, a lower-tier Big 12 program, is a far cry from SEC power LSU.


Miles substantiated his dislike for spring games by saying he doesn't care for the idea of splitting his team up. He said it weakens his ability to evaluate the squad following spring practice.


"Is it hard for me to divide my offense in half, divide my defense and special teams in half?" Miles asked. "I get half a look as I spread it (the team) thin. Yea, that's hard for me."


But almost in the same breath, Miles downplayed the importance of spring practice by saying the staff doesn't have an objective going into the spring, just "preconceived notions."


"It is only 15 practices," Miles exclaimed when asked to evaluate progress made through the spring. "I mean, it's nothing. Compared to the 29 practices you are going to have before the first game, there is nothing decided."


If the spring is "only" 15 practices and is viewed as a period where the team's workouts are based on preconceived notions, why the disdain toward a spring game? What is so terrible about staging an event that not only publicizes your program, but builds morale among players and fans?


Hopefully, the "Spring Game" is something that returns to LSU on a permanent basis and is allowed to grow into the event it once was.



From the mailbag:


What are the chances of LSU finally letting this loser lose?  A brief run in the NCAA last year never quieted the doubts of the many at LSU.  And this year's flop only solidifies their discontent.  How many more times will the faithful have to witness the rerun of this train wreck?


Came to work this morning and of course much of the talk was about the tournament.  Tim Floyd and his USC team looks pretty good and his future success will depend on recruiting.  Floyd already has two commits from Louisiana, which makes me wonder what the hell is Brady up to? Another top recruit for 2008 is right here in New Orleans, who has already stated he loves Duke. Brady's aberrational success last year gave him another do-over with LSU but the handwriting is on the wall, and it says, "you are cooked." 


Except for the Collis Temple connection of his own son, Big Baby, and Tyrus Thomas, who has Brady successfully recruited?  Ben Voogd? Brady has a high return on recruiting so-called blue chip players, (Tack) Minor, (Regis) Koundjia, (Ross) Neltner, etc, etc. The transfers of (Terry) Martin and (Dameon) Mason were average at best.


And team conditioning? Beating Tennessee one night and laying an egg with Ole Miss the next night. That was a tired team. This is a horrible program, and the good players are avoiding Baton Rouge like the plague.  Brady and LSU basketball has a reputation out there and the consensus is not good. 


So now LSU basketball will have to endure another season of the Brady Bunch reruns, only hoping that it will be the last year.


- Ned

Baton Rouge




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

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