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SEC Football Preview 2014: LSU's Inexperience Faces Off Against Les Miles' Coaching Record

The Tigers head coach has made a habit of stringing together 10-win seasons, no matter what you think of him and no matter the odds. Why should this year be any different?

Al Messerschmidt

Here's the thing that I keep coming back to when people say that Les Miles is a bad coach, or an overrated coaches, or just a lucky coach: Miles has coached at LSU for nine seasons. In all but two of those seasons, the Tigers have had at least 10 wins, and they had nine wins in one of the others. LSU under Miles has never had fewer than eight wins. There is not another current coach in the SEC with more than one season under his belt who can say that.

I'm not trying to make the case that Les Miles is the best coach in the conference, because I think that the case for that is still a bit weak. He does have an interesting relationship with the space-time continuum. And with the kind of talent that LSU brings in -- like Miles has anything to do with that -- you would hope that the Tigers would have a long list of successful seasons. But the kind of sustained excellence that LSU has seen under Miles is not an accident. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but short-selling LSU stock while Miles is in Baton Rouge looks a little foolhardy.

On the other hand, there are reasons to bet against the Tigers this year. They're a bit thin along the defensive line, and their wide receiving corps has zero career starts. LSU looks to be heading closer and closer to a two-quarterback approach, though as some reports have pointed out, they did something similar when the Tigers won the SEC title in 2011. An experienced offensive line will be in front of the quarterback, but he will likely be on an island when he looks for seasoned players at the skill positions.

That means that going either way with LSU is something of a risk. Go long on Les Miles' coaching resume, and there's a very good chance that you'll miss the significance of the starters leaving. Spend too much time on those losses, and you could overlook the fact that Miles has dealt with those kinds of losses before only to crank out another season featuring double-digit wins.

But look at that schedule. The two most likely teams to spring an upset on the Tigers (aside from Arkansas) both come to Baton Rouge. Two of their four road trips come against the Hogs and a rebuilding Texas A&M team. And the Game of the Century (TM) is played at Tiger Stadium this year. (Two of the six regular-season losses that Nick Saban has suffered over the last six seasons at Alabama have come against Miles and LSU.) The Hatter wins a game he probably shouldn't, loses a game he shouldn't, and ends up right where he belongs -- with another 10-win season.

Place: 3rd in the SEC West
Record: 10-2, 6-2 SEC
Could be: 7-5 to 12-0
Best chance for an upset: at AUBURN
8.30.14 | WISCONSIN (Houston) | WIN
10.4.14 | at AUBURN | LOSS
10.11.14 | at FLORIDA | WIN
10.18.14 | KENTUCKY | WIN
10.25.14 | OLE MISS | WIN
11.8.14 | ALABAMA | WIN
11.15.14 | at ARKANSAS | LOSS
11.27.14 | at TEXAS A&M | WIN