Les Miles has finally been done in by one of the frantic finishes that came to define the Mad Hatter’s tenure at LSU.
LSU fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on Sunday, and promoted defensive line coach Ed Orgeron to interim head coach.
The moves came less than 24 hours after Miles briefly watched his players wildly celebrate what they thought was a game-winning touchdown pass at Auburn, only to walk off the field with a stunning, 18-13 upset loss after officials determined on video replay that time had expired before the ball was snapped.
It wasn’t the first time chaos reigned in the closing seconds of an LSU game with Miles at the helm, leading to intense scrutiny of the quirky coach’s clock management. But it will go down as the last after 11-plus seasons that were highlighted by a 2007 national title. It will also be the last time Miles can be blamed for untimely bouts of stagnation by an offense that seems to have too much talent to be stifled as it has for significant stretches.
“Coach Miles has done a tremendous job here and he’s been a great ambassador for our University, which makes this even more difficult,” LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said in a written statement. “However, it’s apparent in evaluating the program through the first month of the season that a change has to be made.
“We have an obligation to our student-athletes to put them in the best position to have success on the football field each week. We have great confidence that coach Orgeron will do just that.”
Miles’ firing came hours after LSU (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), which was ranked 18th last week, dropped out of the Top 25 in the latest AP Poll released Sunday.
The 62-year-old coach did not speak publicly about his dismissal, which came more than three seasons before his contract was due to expire at the end of 2019. Miles is paid about $4.3 million annually and although it is unclear whether he’ll get all of what he would have been owed in his buyout.
Several LSU players said Miles was given an opportunity to say goodbye to the team on Sunday evening as the formal transition to Orgeron’s interim regime took place.
“He told us to keep fighting,” safety Jamal Adams said. “Coach Miles gave it his all every day. He is so passionate about LSU. Coach Miles definitely cares about you as a human being. I hurt for coach.”
Junior running back Leonard Fournette, a Heisman Trophy candidate who is expected to turn pro after this season, said he was “very shocked” by the decision and “hated” the way the team’s unexpected early season stumbles precipitated Miles’ firing.