LSU ended a three-game losing streak by beating Texas A&M 19-7 on Saturday night, but the game was merely the undercard to a surreal main event afterward that ended with coach Les Miles being told that he will continue on in his role as the Tigers' head football coach.
Rumors have swirled the last couple weeks, with numerous reports indicating that LSU was prepared to move on from Miles, arguably the most successful coach in school history. The Tiger Athletic Foundation was reportedly ready to pay his $15 million buyout. On Friday, there were even conflicting reports about comments Miles made to the LSU booster club. Initial reports said that Miles told boosters that this would be his last game, but those reports were quickly refuted, as Miles' comments were apparently misinterpreted.
Miles was shown overwhelming support from the Tiger Stadium crowd on Saturday night. He received a loud ovation when he took the field to participate in Senior Day activities.
After losing to Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss by double digits, LSU proceeded to beat Texas A&M 19-7 in classic Miles fashion. Quarterback Brandon Harris struggled all game, completing 7 of 21 passes for 83 yards, but star tailback Leonard Fournette ran 32 times for 159 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 43 yards. Texas A&M was held to just 250 total yards, and LSU sealed the game with 13-play, 80-yard drive that lasted over eight minutes and ended with Fournette running for a four-yard touchdown with 2:50 left.
Various chants echoed throughout Death Valley, with the crowd imploring LSU to keep Miles. When the game ended, LSU players hoisted Miles on their shoulders to walk him off the field.
Here's the scene in Tiger Stadium for Les Miles. pic.twitter.com/YABpXAHB1l— Shea Dixon (@Sheadixon) November 29, 2015
SEC Network's Maria Taylor then began her postgame interview with him, but he stopped her so he could sing the LSU alma mater with his players -- which was captured by Taylor's microphone and the network's cameras.
Here's Les Miles singing the alma mater, which was quite a moment. https://t.co/15Ipbvr1B0— Matt Brown (@MattBrownCFB) November 29, 2015
Then, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva -- who has been painfully silent over the last two weeks -- announced that Miles would be staying.
"Les Miles is our football coach and he will continue to be our football coach," Alleva said.
ESPN's Joe Schad reported that LSU decided to keep Miles during the third quarter of the game.
LSU decision makers felt media had swayed public and if Les Miles was fired school would have apoeared mean-spirited, per source— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 29, 2015
Miles took the podium and expounded on numerous topics at his postgame press conference.
When asked if Miles had any hard feelings about the last few weeks, he said: "No. There's probably a guy or two I'd like to meet in an alley and have a little straight-talk with. But I'm not built that way."
And on getting carried off the field: "When you're sitting up there, I know now what it's like to ride an elephant."
Now, Miles will get a chance to coach his team in another bowl game and focus on next season. This will likely involve moving on from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and trying to modernize the offense, although next year's offense will still include Fournette, the all-world running back and Heisman contender.
Miles also has what could be the No. 1 recruiting class in all of college football prepared to sign in February.
The 62-year-old Miles is now 111-32 in 11 seasons at LSU, with the Tigers ending the regular season with an 8-3 record (the opening game was canceled because of bad weather), and it's possible he'll have a team that can contend for an SEC title next season. There's no question that things have slipped a bit the last couple years, but Miles deserves a chance to try to fix things. He'll get that chance.
Instead of leaving Tiger Stadium for the final time as LSU's head coach, all that was left for Miles to do on Saturday night was dance.
Looked so good we had to share it again. Coach Miles with the dab. pic.twitter.com/nEh1yjK597— LSU Football (@LSUfball) November 29, 2015