LSU football coach Les Miles. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Thursday, February 07, 2013 9:17 PM
Now that recruiting is mercifully over, Les Miles can get on with the task of fixing what is really the biggest problem with the LSU football team.
He’s got a whole new influx of talent coming in, straight off the Who’s Who’s list of high school hotshots, all of them no doubt fine gentlemen and scholars.
And that’s a good thing. You can’t have too many of those.
Just don’t get caught up in group hand-wringing sessions because it was still rated behind Alabama’s or signal alarms because, for this class, even Ole Miss may have edged ahead of them in this ranking or that.
Recruiting is important, no question, but ranking it is just not that exact a science for ESPN to spend Wednesday re-ranking teams hourly like it was the stock market going up and down.
At any rate, LSU will not lack for talent in the coming years.
Of course, the Tigers already had plenty of good players — even with a whole herd of them stampeding off to the NFL early.
What they really need is an offensive identity for all these studs to rally around.
Between breaking in a new quarterback and scrambling to mix-and-match an offensive line after a rash of early injuries, they had some excuses.
But, in effect, LSU spent the year with an awkward offense that never really looked like it knew what it wanted to be when it grew up.
It was an offense that gained 435 yards against national champion Alabama, the most the Tide gave up all season — yes, 17 more yards than wide-open Texas A&M got in beating the Tide the next week.
It was an offense that gained 406 yards against the second-best defense it faced, South Carolina.
So there was some talent there.
But the Tigers had more yards in both of those games than the same offense had against Towson State, an FCS school.
So there was a lot of chronic inconsistency there.
The offense also failed miserably in closing out two notable games, whether it was getting too conservative against Alabama or throwing caution to the wind against Clemson.
Something has to change.
Miles admitted as much even a few days after the Chick-fil-A Bowl when his lads managed 219 yards and had eight three-and-outs against a suspect Clemson defense that was more prone to giving up something in the 400 range.
He knows it.
The silliest reaction to the fans’ genuine concerns about the offense came just a little more than a week ago when his raise and contract extension came up for approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Many fans saw it as an opportunity. Some, people of influence, even called Board members with a suggestion. Yes, they said, give him the raise, but use this carrot to give it to him ONLY if he agrees to go get a new offensive coordinator and find some better ball plays.
Money makes the monkey dance.
Think about that for a minute.
How ever little you think Miles knows about creative offense, it’s still 100 times more than you or me or your neighbor know about it.
If the Board members really thought they needed to be stepping in and making Miles’ football decisions for him, then they should not only have denied his raise, they should have fired him on the spot.
When you’re paying $4.3 million a year for something, it shouldn’t require much more of your concern or input than signing the check.
Either he’s you’re head coach — in charge of a very important wing of the university — or he’s not.
To its credit, the Board apparently resisted the urge to draw up a few ball plays in the dirt.
It’s the Board of Supervisors — not micro-managers.
So it’s up to Miles now to earn his check.
Miles is smarter than you think he is and he’s not nearly as stubborn as he gets credit for.
He knows what’s at stake and he’s not afraid to change, even if it means bruising a few feelings.
He’s done it before.
If it’s a change in the staff, it shouldn’t take much longer. Miles has never been much of a multi-tasker. While he’s recruiting, he recruits. When that’s done, he looks at his staff.
Of course, in the past LSU has just finished with up recruiting a coach or two short and then filled the spots afterward.
As of now, officially, Miles has no opening on his coaching staff.
Maybe that changes in the coming days. Already there are rumors that an old Miles friend, former Miami Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, might be a logical choice after being fired late in the regular season by the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens.
But it’s touchy.
LSU’s offense has been, at best, hit and miss the past two years with Greg Studrawa as coordinator.
But Studrawa is too good of an offensive line coach to get rid of just because he was put in an awkward situation he didn’t ask for or create.
Quarterbacks coach Steve Kragthorpe was hired as coordinator two years ago, but that same summer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Studrawa was made coordinator to lessen the strain on Kragthorpe.
But, really, if your quarterbacks coach is not the coordinator — or at least the play-caller — in effect you have co-coordinators. And that never seems to work out well.
LSU has done right by Kragthorpe for two years and, outwardly at least, he appears to be doing OK physically.
But — crass bottom-line alert — he’s either healthy enough to be the coordinator or he’s not.
Or maybe LSU just needs to do a lot of soul searching and take a new direction.
But they need something.
It’s now up to Miles to figure out what it is.
That’s why he’s making the big bucks.
• • •Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted By: tim giles On: 2/9/2013
Title: not so smart
I fifirst became aware that my fellow louisiananans were not all geniuses when they wanted to help mac pack! Now they want to help atop coach coach,,now when coach miles shows up at our job sites and start teaching us our jobs,We have a reason to complain! Right now we should be content with top two team every year if,we fans dodnt make recruiting hard for Coach Miles we would have a top one team every year,and for you die hard sabinites sabin doesnt recruit for bama espn does !
Posted By: Cynthia D. Tufts On: 2/9/2013
Title: Thorough and well-stated
Most rational and likely accurate appraisal of our football program in every way that I have read lately. Thank you.