DEVILLE: Miles at home in Tiger Stadium

Les Miles is an emotional guy. That has never been questioned.

From his "Let 'er rip" comment at Oklahoma State, to his nationally televised halftime rant at Tennessee last year, all the way to his ripping the Pac-10 over the summer, Miles' passion has never been an issue.


But moments after his No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers defeated ninth-ranked Florida Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, Miles made an uncharacteristic move.


After shaking hands with Gator coach Urban Meyer at midfield, Miles exchanged a bear hug with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, and then took off toward LSU's student section. The students were worked into a frenzy as the Tigers had just defeated the defending national champions 28-24 in dramatic fashion.


Miles trotted up to the fence and gave a heartfelt wave to the students, thanking them for their efforts as if they had actually played in the game. Miles spent several minutes basking in the cheers of the fans as the chant began, "Les Miles, Les Miles."


Former coach Nick Saban made a tradition of the student section march, on which he'd give the fans his customary thumbs up before ducking into the locker room.


That hasn't been the case for Miles. The third-year coach instituted the tradition of singing the LSU alma mater after victories but has always accompanied the team directly into the locker room afterwards.


Miles stepped out of character and warmed up the fans, some of which have long doubted his ability to coach a team of LSU's stature. Ever since Miles arrived he has had his critics.


Well, all of that is over now.


Miles finally sealed the deal on Saturday by winning what some people are calling the biggest game in the history of hallowed Tiger Stadium. The Tigers hadn't been ranked No. 1 in the nation, during the regular season that is, in 48 years dating back to Halloween Night 1959. Miles helped LSU ascend to the nation's top spot and defended the Tigers' No. 1 ranking by defeating the defending national champion and Meyer, many of whom feel is one of the top five coaches in the country.


Could that case now be made for Miles?


Miles has accomplished a number of things since he took over the LSU program almost three years ago. First and foremost, his record speaks for itself.


Through 32 games as LSU's coach, Miles has compiled a 28-4 overall record, including a 16-3 record in SEC play. He has won two bowl games, one being a BCS game, in decisive fashion over perennial powers Miami and Notre Dame.


He has recruited well, no doubt about it. Miles has reeled in three nationally ranked recruiting classes and is responsible for the tremendous depth on this LSU football team.


Some doubters say he was handed the keys to a Porsche when he arrived in Baton Rouge, that car formerly being owned by Saban.


While his detractors still try and find reasons to doubt his abilities, all Miles does is continue to add to a growing resume'.


The Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in almost a half-century. Not only are they the top-ranked team, but the Tigers are also a unanimous No. 1 in almost every poll. LSU received all 60 first-place votes in the AP Poll, was a unanimous pick in the Harris Poll, and got all but two first-place votes in the Coaches Poll.


With Wisconsin's shocking loss to Illinois last Saturday, LSU now owns the nation's longest winning streak. The Tigers have now won 13 games in a row dating back to a 23-10 win last season to, ironically, Florida.


LSU has won 17 straight games at home dating back to an overtime loss to Tennessee in 2005. Plus, Saturday's win over the Gators marked the 26th straight night victory for LSU in Tiger Stadium.


While all of these facts and numbers are impressive, Miles took a huge step in further silencing his critics who doubt his game management decisions. LSU's coach was fearless on Saturday in the way he led his Tigers to victory.


Some may call it gambling, but Miles opted for "confidence" as the Tigers converted five of five fourth-down conversions, three of which were in the final minutes of the game.

"There was never a doubt," Miles said with a steely gaze. "We were there to win it."


Trailing 24-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, Miles gathered his team and rallied for one of the most dramatic wins in Tiger Stadium history. Jacob Hester willed his way to a pair of fourth-down conversion runs on the Tigers' final march to victory.


Then, on third-and-goal from the 3, Hester bullied his way into the end zone to put LSU up for good. 


When asked afterwards would he have gone for the win had Hester not gotten in on third down, Miles said, "Yes."


At any rate, it appears the LSU coach has finally endeared himself to Tiger fans. It seems absurd that it took this long; but judging by the smile on his face leaving the field coupled with the celebration by LSU fans, all is well with Miles in Baton Rouge.


Now 6-0, the Tigers are halfway through the regular season having already defeated teams ranked No. 7 (South Carolina), No. 12 (Virginia Tech) and No. 13 (Florida).


There is a lot of football remaining in the season, but the Tigers are poised to make a run at the one thing that will solidify Miles' case as one of the nation's top coaches – a championship.




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

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