Scooter Hobbs column: Miles seeks to erase LSU’s erasure

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hang on to your ballcaps. Grab some popcorn while you’re at it.

The Mad Hatter is at again.

Your old friend Les Miles, a former LSU football coach, is stirring up some delightful mischief in a federal court in Baton Rouge. We can only hope and pray that his grievance sees the light of an actual courtroom. Preferably on hi-def TV.

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And, by all means, align yourself in Miles’ corner.

He is suing LSU, a former employer, but he seeks no monetary reimbursement. The school already gave him a boatload of cash when it fired him in the middle of the 2016 season. This really isn’t about money.

What Miles wants — and, if justice is served, he should get his way — is basically to rewrite some LSU history that has already been rewritten once.

Miles’ version, the original, is by far the most plausible.

Anyhoo, he wants the school to return to him — preferably including shipping and handling charges — the 37 victories between 2012 and 2015 that LSU took.

The school apparently stashed the 37 wins in that murky nether land where they were neither victories nor losses, neither fish nor fowl, but rather were just “vacated,” at least from Miles official won-loss record.

It was last year when the school offered the “vacated” wins to the NCAA, sort of as a peace offering, a show of good faith when the infractions committee was snooping around. It involved the money that a rogue booster was funneling to the father of offensive lineman Vadal Alexander between 2012-15.

It’s a common sleight of hand.

There are few things more worthless (or useless) than a “vacated win,” but schools do it all the time anyway.

Silly as it sounds, it must be a tried-and-true negotiating chip. The NCAA seems to fall for it every time.

Those missing wins are important to Miles, according to the lawsuit, because subtracting the 37 wins put his overall winning percentage at .597 — slightly below the .600 that is required to get a coach into the College Football of Fame.

With those 37 wins, he’s safely at .665 with a 145-73 overall record for Oklahoma State, LSU and Kansas.

That’s why the NCAA and the College Football Hall of Fame were also named in the lawsuit, demanding that they reinstate the victories.

But this shouldn’t really be about the College Football Hall of Fame. Even with the stolen wins, Miles would be borderline at best to get in.

Still, give the man the victories he won on the field. Never mind that many of them over the years never made much football sense. They left opposing coaches and fans scratching their noggins, wondering what in unexplainable tarnation just happened.

Much of it was colorful, quirky history.

But the NCAA, seemingly more than any other sports organization, seems to just love to rewrite history.

It has never explained what the point of it is. It doesn’t change who won the game or, in Reggie Bush’s case for random example, the Heisman Trophy.

Maybe it makes it feel better, or at least more sanctimonious, but try as it might, it doesn’t change who won this or that on the field.

That’s why Miles needs to be encouraged and applauded for saying that enough is enough, that what happens on the field stays on the field, and in the record book.

Be done with this foolishness.

So here’s our dream courtroom scenario, maybe bringing to mind “My Cousin Vinny” or some such.

Admittedly it’s out of my legal realm, but — correct me if I’m wrong — aren’t there some litigations in which a victorious plaintiff can be awarded “treble” damages?

In that case — triple the damages originally awarded — Miles could walk away with 111 extra victories instead of 37, or 74 more than he left LSU with.

That’d also be a 219-73 record, .750, and that’s a whole new ball game right there.

The College Football Hall of Fame might find it hard to turn a deaf ear to that.

To which former opponents will only shake their heads and observe: “I don’t know what just happened there, but it had Lucky Les written all over it.”

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at