Dear LSU, It was fun while it lasted. - Signed, The Mountaintop


Hall of Fame
Mar 30, 2001
Florence, AL
Everyone knows what it's like to make a rash decision, quickly realize that it's a mistake, and almost immediately regret that decision. Unfortunately for LSU, this is not the situation in which the LSU administration and at least the majority of LSU fans currently find themselves. In that situation, there are some advantages. One can quickly take steps to remedy the situation in order to mitigate the long-term damage, rather than riding out the decision - and the line of thinking which led to that decision - to the bitter end.

The situation in which LSU currently sits is far worse than that and, apparently, very few can see that fact.

LSU has been hovering around - and occasionally sitting atop - the mountaintop for the last 15 years and they just fired their most successful coach ever - EVER - simply because he wasn't able to turn LSU into Alabama. Their assumption is that the right coach can actually do that.

LSU's current situation is tantamount to the guy who lets his best friend talk him into quitting his job to enter into a high-risk business start-up.

He had put over 10 years into a really good job. Sure, it wasn't the best job in the world but it paid well, had good benefits, and provided plenty of job security. There were even a couple of really good years where the company did really well and his bonus was one of the best in the industry. Still, for some reason, there was occasionally this random, nagging thought in the back of his mind that there might be something better out there. Then, one day, his best friend knocks on his door and tells him about this great, new idea that they need to partner up with where all their dreams will come true. It does sound like a great idea but it's obviously risky. It requires jumping in with both feet, giving up on the 10-plus years he's invested in his current career path. His company was having a good but not great year and he almost pulled the trigger, backing out at the last minute. He wasn't ready to make that leap. That was last year.

Then, this year, the company got off to a rocky start. It quickly became very obvious that this year wasn't going to be anywhere near as good as he - and the entire company - had hoped. So, he calls up his best friend and says that he's ready to pull the trigger. He walks in on Monday and hands his boss a resignation letter. He takes his life savings and pools it with his best friend's life savings, investing it in their new startup. Their entire futures are resting solely in their hands. They've got a five-year business plan and almost four years worth of operating capital.

Now, perhaps the business will take off and all of their dreams will come true. Most likely, though, they'll end up no better off than the guy who invested his life savings in a business selling imported, glacier ice since imported water is so popular. And, most unfortunately, their belief in their ambitions and their five-year business plan will likely cause them to not only lose their life savings but also mortgage their homes and more of their futures to waste two or three more years chasing those unreasonable dreams; failing to realize their biggest mistake until it's far, far too late.

You see, LSU's biggest mistake is in thinking that they can actually be Alabama.

On the surface, it certainly seems possible. Right now, they are a really big name in the biggest pond - the SEC. They sit in the middle of a fertile recruiting ground. They're so often so close to the mountaintop and, it seems, only need a little bit of a bump to begin regularly sitting atop it and being able to set up a permanent residence there - with a view overlooking most of the college football landscape. A great coach took them to the mountaintop and - in their eyes - a simply good coach kept them hovering near it. All they need, it seems, is to find another great coach or even just a really good coach and all their dreams will come true.

The problem is that they've been in the SEC for quite some time. They've always sat in the middle of a fertile recruiting ground. Yes, a great coach - Saban - took them to the mountaintop. However, Miles was actually a really good coach and it took a really good coach to keep hovering near that top. If they find a good to really good coach to take over, the path he takes toward reaching the mountaintop may look significantly different - especially on offense - but the results are most likely to be the same as, if not worse than, what they had with Les Miles at the helm. If they are only able to bring in a good coach, their current levels of success will most likely revert back to LSU's historical norms.

Before Saban arrived at LSU, it had been over 40 years since LSU had sat atop the mountain. Between those two events, LSU had only been the biggest fish in their pond four times. In the last 15 years - since Saban arrived in Baton Rouge - LSU has been the biggest fish in their pond four times and sat atop the mountain twice. For some reason, LSU is convinced that their levels of success under Saban and Miles is their new normal. In reality, it's an aberration; it's the best they've ever been and, most likely, the best they'll ever be.

Sure, LSU could theoretically hit a home run with their next hire or two, sustain - if not exceed - the level of success Miles gave them for another 10 years or so, and set up a permanent residence near the mountaintop like programs such as Alabama, Oklahoma, USC, etc. And, of course, even those programs will spend a few years living in the valley but their usual home sits high above the rest of the college football world. Unfortunately, there's only room for a few homes up there. If LSU wants to construct a new home up there then someone else's is going to have to be torn down. Alabama certainly isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Maybe LSU can take Notre Dame's place, relegating the Domers to permanent also-ran status.

More than likely, though, LSU's lease is about to run out and they'll find themselves right back where they were for the 100 plus years before Nick Saban strolled into Baton Rouge: living in the valley, looking up at Alabama and the other college football powers living high up on the mountainside - only able to make their way up the mountainside around once a decade and only able to actually sit atop the mountain once in a generation.
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