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Les Miles' Termination: Sunshine Pumper and Nega-Tiger Debate LSU's Decision

Les Miles

Les Miles

Welcome to the Court of Public Opinion where everyone has his or her own opinions, along with his or her own facts, about the termination of former LSU head coach Les Miles. In the corner of the Mad Hatter is Sunshine Pumper, an unwavering optimist who turns a blind eye toward even the most glaringly obvious problems. On the opposing side is Nega-Tiger, an insatiable faultfinder who finds reasons to gripe about everything. Polar opposites will collide!

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Sunshine Pumper: I can't believe LSU fired Les Miles!

Nega-Tiger: Why can't you believe it? Have you forgotten the public speculation for the entire week leading up to last season's finale in Tiger Stadium versus Texas A&M? On the field, Miles looked like a man who knew a pink slip was waiting for him in the locker room after the game.

SP: He won a national title! How can a football program dump a coach who won it all?

NT: Yeah, nine seasons ago. Even then, Miles needed a lot of help just go to the national title game after choking at home against Arkansas for the Tigers' second loss of the season. Considering only one team with two losses had ever won the Associated Press' or coaches' poll, it shows how close Miles came to blowing a clear shot at the national title. He was fortunate that season that only one team from a major conference had only one loss (Ohio State). The only other team that finished undefeated (Hawaii) was left out of the BCS title game. Miles nor any other coach should expect to have two losses yet still win the national title in the foreseeable future. As far as a national title equating to job security, go talk to Larry Coker or Gene Chizik.

SP: Those two losses were in overtime. Before 1996, those games would've ended in ties.

NT: Even so, only three teams with records worse than two ties and no losses ever won the title in either of those national polls.

SP: He led LSU to two SEC championships in his 11 seasons.

NT: So? Nick Saban won the same number of titles in only five seasons at LSU.

SP: Miles's overall winning percentage was 77 percent. His winning percentage in SEC games was 69 percent. He has the second-most wins in LSU's history, only behind Charlie McClendon.

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NT: Speaking of McClendon, he had an overall winning percentage of 69 percent and 59 percent in the SEC. He lost his last nine matchups against his nemesis Bear Bryant. Miles was descending into McClendon's level of mediocrity.

SP: Miles had a much better record versus Alabama than McClendon did. Miles was 5-7 against the Crimson Tide.

NT: Against Saban at Alabama, Miles only won three times. He had lost the last five times versus the Tide. McClendon was fired because he kept losing that "big game." He lost the last nine times he faced Bear Bryant. Miles was showing the same inability, starting with the Mulligan in the Superdome.

SP: Miles' record in bowl games was 7-4. That's tied for most bowl wins in LSU history. He also leaves with the second-most bowl appearances.

NT: His record in the last five bowl games was 2-3. Given the absurdly high number of bowls nowadays, merely going to a bowl game isn't much of an accomplishment. LSU was left out of bowls multiple times under McClendon despite having a winning record. You don't think LSU would've gone to more bowls during McClendon's tenure with the current glut of bowls?

SP: Look at all the chaos at LSU after pushing McClendon out despite his long, mostly successful tenure: eight head coaches in 25 years! Not one lasted more than five years. You want to endure that again?

NT: That number is deceiving. One coach, Bo Rein, died before ever having coached a game. His replacement, Jerry Stovall, had never served as a head coach so only lasted four years. Then Bill Arnsparger bolted after three years to become the athletic director at Florida. Mike Archer was the same: no experience and gone after four seasons. Curley Hallman appeared to be competent because he had Brett Favre while at Southern Mississippi. Gerry DiNardo was inexplicably hired despite never having a winning season during his four previous seasons as a head coach. Saban bolted for the NFL.

SP: Mark my words. LSU fans will soon look back at Les Miles' tenure and regret his departure.

NT: That's uncertain. What we do know is that the fan base has tired of the also-ran finishes and mediocre win-loss records in SEC games. We don't want another humdrum decade like the 1970s again: started those years with an SEC title and never won another one in that span.

SP: Now LSU could end up with another depressing decade like the 1990s: seven losing seasons and no titles of any kind.

NT: LSU could end up with another excellent decade like the 2000s: three SEC titles and two national titles.

— Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur and read his viewpoints at