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LSU quarterback Brandon Harris (6) speaks with head coach Les Miles during a timeout against Auburn, Sept. 24, 2016 at Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

It didn’t have to be this way.

That’s the impression you’re left with after reading the wide-ranging interview The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger did with now former LSU quarterback Brandon Harris.

Harris’ skills as a quarterback are the subject of similarly wide-ranging debate among those who follow and cover LSU. He’s headed to North Carolina now, so clearly a pretty solid program and a pretty solid offensive coach in UNC head man Larry Fedora sees some potential there. Potentially that arguably was left untapped at LSU.

Harris confirms what has long been suspected about the latter years of the Miles regime: a retooling of the offense was pledged but never delivered.

“We thought we were going to change the offense,” Harris said. “Obviously, I heard that every single year since I’ve been here. A promise that we were going to change and we were going to throw it more. Of course, ultimately, we didn’t do that.”

The result was as predictable as LSU’s off-tackle running plays became under Miles. He was fired four games into the 2016 season after a loss to Auburn, paving the way for Ed Orgeron to become the interim then permanent head coach.

Though Orgeron and former interim offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger never entrusted the offense to Harris again in LSU’s final eight games – not even when the offense bogged down against Alabama or when the Tigers were crushing Louisville in the Florida Citrus Bowl – there was a change to the kind of balance that was so long bandied about under Miles but never delivered. The result was, mostly, a more productive and inventive offense.

One has to believe Miles never would have entrusted his offense to such an out-of-the-box thinker as new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. He didn’t trust Cam Cameron, who had his detractors but clearly also has some skins on the wall. At Indiana, for example, he coached Antwaan Randal El, one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football history.

Why wouldn’t Miles change? Even when at the end of the 2015 season he clearly had to see his tenure at LSU was in the balance?

Harris offers some insight into that, too.

“You’ve got to realize that has won so much in previous years,” Harris said of LSU’s Power-I, run-heavy attack. And that’s true. Even with the post-BCS championship game loss to Alabama era that proved to be Miles’ undoing, he left having won 77 percent of his games at LSU, a winning percentage no other LSU coach in the SEC era could touch.

And yet, Miles lost touch with the evolution of the game, the trend in offense, as Harris described it. That or he simply decided to ignore it. Harris didn’t come to LSU as an under-the-center quarterback, yet that’s what Miles insisted he try to be.

Ultimately, it was to the detriment of both men, both of whom are trying to reinvent their careers.

Harris has found his new start. Miles is still looking for his. And it’s easier to understand why.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​