A high-stakes game of musical chairs is playing out in Baton Rouge. At the moment, there are three rickety, wobbly and very hot seats left in the game. LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva, LSU President F. King Alexander and Les Miles remain in the game, but the next round is beginning, and a chair is being taken away.
Having retired in place, Miles sports a 14-10 conference record over the past three seasons, winning only one of the past four bowl games. This cat has used up eight of his nine lives, but he has survived for the moment because he is “likeable.” Joe Alleva should be remembered as the man who extended Miles’ current contract that now paralyzes the university.
It was Alleva who spun a fairy tale to the Tiger Nation and himself that other schools were eager to hire Miles away (a simple online search of out-of-state newspapers shows this was never true). Alexander controls a half-billion dollar institution, yet he does not seem to have a firm grasp of its athletic department that, to many, is the primary image of the school. Personally, I am offended that he believes LSU’s alums and supporters do not understand the fiscal reality that the cash spent to replace a coach like Miles is not public money. We get that, Mr. Alexander.
Alleva and Alexander are talking around each other. While Alleva has spent several weeks having secret chats with everyone except the president, Alexander wants to be seen as being in charge but still left out of the loop. While Alleva lined up new coaches, Alexander committed LSU to another season of the Miles death march. Gentlemen, each of you has staff and telephones. Use them. Meanwhile, Miles pretends to be invisible.
Once again, another university schools us in handling this issue. In the span of a few days, Georgia has dismissed and paid out Mark Richt (a coach with a record comparable to Miles) who has already become the new Miami coach. The deadly uncertainty of LSU’s blind process will stretch out through the bowls, recruiting period and the off season as it poisons the attitudes of coach candidates and high school recruits. And because no one seriously believes there is a Miles 2.0 version for the 2016 season, we will do this dance again this time next year.