2016 LSU Tigers Preview: LSU has the talent and the experience to come up with a magical season. Can the Tigers win the SEC title – and maybe more – just a few months after almost getting rid of its head coach?
Mad Hatter Gets Last Laugh.
LSU Wins The 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
If the Tigers play up to their experience and talent level, get ready for the goofy headlines in what could be the defining narrative of the 2016 college football season.
Les Miles was this close to getting canned, but thanks to the will of the majority, was able to keep his job. And for his troubles, now he has a team good enough to win the national title.
At least he’d better come really, really, really close.
As the story goes, LSU president F. King Alexander was ready to pull the plug after LSU lost three in a row – which, by the way, were no-shame-there losses against Alabama and Ole Miss on the road and to Arkansas at home – but he totally misread the situation and the climate, was about to make a public relations blunder of epic proportions in terms of budget issues, and instead, chose to keep Miles on during halftime of the 19-7 win over Texas A&M, partly due to the outpouring of support coming from the fans.
Forgetting that the cash-strapped school would’ve been burning through millions of dollars by firing its head man, as crazy and unfair as it seemed at the time, now in hindsight, Miles caught a major break.
LSU might have lost three in a row to three great teams – including the eventual national champion on the road – but you’re not allowed to do that at LSU. Getting to play a dead-team-walking in Texas A&M at home, and finish up with a brutally overmatched Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl, doesn’t change that.
LSU won the SEC title in 2011 but lost the BCS Championship to Alabama, and for a superpower program that’s bound by absolutely nothing, to lose 14 games over the last four seasons – Alabama, by the way, has lost 12 games from 2008 to 2015 – isn’t okay.
The standards of the SEC might be insane, and Miles is a national championship head coach who’s won 78% of his games for LSU, but to go all Bill Belichick, better to cut someone a year too early than a year too late.
This year has to be the one when everything is right on time.
This year, there’s absolutely no excuse, even in the always-nasty SEC, because LSU has the best returning team in college football.
Go ahead and start with the best player in the country – or at least in the photo with Deshaun Watson – in Leonard Fournette, who’ll win the Heisman if he puts up numbers like he did last season. He’s working behind a veteran offensive line, with a veteran quarterback in Brandon Harris under center throwing to an NFL-level receiving corps that’s suddenly a lot deeper.
The defense not only didn’t lose a ton of key parts like it always seems to do, it added on Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to crank up a veteran crew with loads of the normal LSU speed, talent, and recruiting stars across the board. The D line is all back full, young linebackers emerged this offseason, and the secondary should be a rock.
As Alabama has proven under Nick Saban, it’s possible to lose a game along the way and still win the national title, but LSU is a far better team than Wisconsin – the opener is in Lambeau Field in Green Bay – and the road games are at Auburn, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M. That’s just not that bad, and the dates with Ole Miss and Alabama are in Death Valley.
So by that one first half against Texas A&M last year, and that one 11th hour reprieve, now LSU is going from being a program that’s starting over to a potentially loaded powerhouse led by a veteran head man who’s one gigantic season away from having a statue built in his honor outside of Tiger Stadium.
But if there’s another 3 in the loss column this time around, those headlines eight months from now, don’t be shocked if there really is a new era of LSU football next year at this time.