It was merely an offhand remark, one that probably would have been lost in the avalanche of quotes and sound bites that have piled up during LSU’s preseason camp were it not for the current context.
A couple of weeks ago, Les Miles was asked after an early practice about what a quiet offseason it’s been and how that’s helped his team’s preparation for a demanding season.
I don’t have the exact quote, but Miles’ reply was that it’s been nice, but that his 2012 team was sure to have to weather some storms before the season is over.
It’s a virtual certainty that Miles, and LSU, had a pretty good idea of what the score was on the Tyrann Mathieu team discipline tote board before he even uttered those words.
At times like these, when things look like they’re falling apart and LSU fans are ready to fly in a crisis management team from Stuttgart, you could do worse than to have Les Miles as your corner man.
Hurricane Katrina. LSU moves its first game under Miles to Tempe and beats Arizona State on the road.
Hurricane Rita. Game against Tennessee moved to Monday night. Tigers blow big halftime lead, then go out to win nine straight and play for the Southeastern Conference title.
The Ole Miss fiasco. LSU rebounds to reach the Capital One Bowl. The Tennessee fiasco. LSU rebounds from that to win the Cotton Bowl and go 11-2.
The Slugfest at Shady’s. Jordan Jefferson suspended, team in turmoil, and LSU wins its first 13 games. Throw in an extra curveball with the midseason Auburn game suspensions of Mathieu, Spencer Ware and Tharold Simon and LSU crushes Auburn 45-10.
During World War II, the British had a stiff upper saying: “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
During times like this, LSU fans would do well to keep calm and call Les.
Maybe the time to worry is when things are going really smoothly, like say in the days leading up to Jan. 9.
What, if anything makes Miles adept in the crunch? Well, he surrounds himself with good people, lets his players be men and keeps things from getting too heavy or too light.
Doesn’t mean he’s perfect. Doesn’t mean there won’t be problems along the way. It also doesn’t mean his program is out of control.
The two biggest questions in Baton Rouge these days are 1) Will Tyrann Mathieu stay in school and come back to play for LSU in 2013 and 2) Can LSU still be a national title contender without him?
The answer to the first one, from here, is “doubt it.” It is probably best for Mathieu to keep playing, somewhere, and stay within the structure of football until he goes for the NFL draft next year.
The answer to the second one is yes, absolutely. Mathieu is a big loss, but not a mortal one.
Given LSU’s track record under Miles, his team will cope.
In other words, expect the Tigers to weather the storm.