Over the last few weeks, along with the retirement of Gary Pinkel and the resignation of Steve Spurrier, there have been rumors flying about whether Georgia head coach Mark Richt and LSU head coach Les Miles would survive. Because Mark Richt has been on and off the hot seat for roughly five years, no one knew how seriously to take those rumors. But one thing was certain about Les Miles: The Mad Hatter was a dead coach walking.
First, Miles was coaching for his job against Ole Miss and Texas A&M -- and promptly lost to Ole Miss. Then, Miles either did or didn't indicate to boosters that the game against the Aggies would be his last -- no one seemed to be able to agree what was going on. But on Saturday, after the Tigers knocked off the Aggies, we have our answer.
"I want to make it clear that Les Miles is our football coach and will continue to be our football coach," #LSU AD Joe Alleva said.— LSU Football (@LSUfball) November 29, 2015
Once again, when doom seemed certain and time had almost run out, Les Miles found a way to emerge victorious. The idea that Alleva wasn't at least considering firing Miles at the end of the season doesn't match up with the evidence; if that were the case, it would have been just as easy for Alleva to say what he said on Saturday night at some point over the last two weeks. Miles was in danger of being pushed out, and wasn't -- for whatever reason.
Why he ended up hanging on could be any number of things. Maybe Jimbo Fisher or his agent said "no" to LSU intermediaries. Maybe the LSU powers that be were on the fence before the Texas A&M game and saw enough to allow Miles to hold on. Maybe Alleva looked into the abyss that programs like Nebraska have plunged into when they decided that nine-win seasons weren't enough, and decided to step back from the brink.
That doesn't mean that there won't be some fallout from this. Alleva's own job now looks far more precarious than it did a few weeks ago. And Miles will have to find a way to respond when opposing coaches bring up this circus on the recruiting trail. If he responds well, history suggests he can continue to draw blue-chip recruits to Baton Rouge. If things go wrong, Miles could find himself in the same situation in two or three years.
But for now, Miles will remain a coach in the SEC. For those of us who like coaches who do things unconventionally, who always trust in their players to do whatever is needed, and who don't care to follow the normal rules when it comes to speaking to the media, it's a great day. The SEC would have been a far less interesting place without coaches like Miles. Thanks to whatever happened in the lead-up to Saturday night, we won't have to find out what that place looks like for at least a few more years.