Les Miles didn’t move to Louisiana until he was 51, but from the moment he arrived it seemed like he’d been there all his life. He is an outlaw, in that he lives outside the laws — of space and time, of grammar, of normal human behavior. And does no place cherish living by your own set of rules like the bayous of Louisiana.
As we know, the Les Miles era at LSU came to an end Sunday after 11-plus seasons, 148 games and a lifetime of memorable moments. We’ve recapped the best ones here.
10. Les talks Erin Andrews. This moment is as much about Les as it is Ted, an off-screen press conference questioner, self-professed 80-year fan of LSU football and curious admirer of former ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
9. Les wins a coup. Joe Alleva tried to fire Miles during the 2015 season but, as we know, leaked the story long enough in advance to allow Les and the LSU fan base to rally the troops and stage a counterinsurgency. What was supposed to be Les’s final home game wasn’t, as the Tigers carried him off the field after a 19-7 win over Texas A&M.
8. “Have a great day.” Just before LSU played in the 2007 SEC championship game, Kirk Herbstreit reported Miles would leave Baton Rouge to take the vacant head coaching job at Michigan. He wasn’t, and he didn’t. Miles addressed the report with a damn strong public statement.
7. The Tennessee Miracle. You thought Les allowed the clock to run out on what would have been a horrible loss to an unranked Tennessee team at home. You thought wrong. Les used his Bayou voodoo to trick Derek Dooley into sending not 12 but 13 players on the field for the game’s penultimate play.
6. The Flip. A 53-yard field goal to tie the game? No, thanks. I’ll just fake it and score a touchdown instead.
Another example of the gods smiling upon ol’ Lester I’d forgotten over the years: the ball hitting the Florida Field turf and bouncing perfectly into Josh Jasper’s grasp.
5. “You go find them, you throw your arms around them, you give them a big kiss on the mouth… if you’re a girl.” A 41-35 win over Ole Miss in 2012 inspired a fiery post-game press conference praising his “spectacular group of young men,” dropping an f bomb and trying to get his players some action.
4. Les eats grass. Nothing symbolized Les’s personality quite like eating a piece of the field — and pulling it off.
The fact that he gave two wildly different explanations for why he ate the grass somehow made it make even more sense.
3. Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd. Speaking of pulling things off, the sequence that led to LSU’s crucial defeat of Auburn in 2007 should have nipped Les in the rear in any number of ways yet, somehow, didn’t. Trailing 24-23 with the clock rolling with under 30 seconds to play, Les had a number of options. He could have run a quick play over the middle, then called timeout to set up a comfortable game-winning field goal. He could have called timeout to set up a perfect touchdown-or-first down play, which would still allow enough time to set up a field goal if the ball did not find the end zone.
What Les absolutely should not have done is allow the clock to tick all the way down to where the offense could run one do-or-die play, while in effect taking their timeout and their field goal opportunity with them to the post game press conference. That, of course, is exactly what they did, and it yet again worked out for him.
2. Les wins the “Game of the Century.” The game didn’t quite match the hype (unless you’re a defensive masochist) but Les’s Tigers did something no team in college football had done in two full decades: win a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game in an opponent’s stadium. LSU’s 9-6 defeat of No. 2 Alabama served as the crown jewel of one of the greatest regular seasons of the modern era; LSU’s 13-0 start included three wins over top-5 teams and five wins over top-20 teams in the final AP poll. Those Tigers didn’t win every game they played, but did they beat every team they played.
1. Les wins his national title. The Alabama win and 2011 regular season was topped only by LSU’s 2007 national title victory over Ohio State, its second national crown in half a century.