Alternate reality at LSU
Dave Aranda’s introductory press conference as defensive coordinator was proceeding quite smoothly Tuesday morning at the LSU Athletics Administration Building.
LSU coach Les Miles succinctly gave the reasons as to why he quickly chose Aranda as the replacement for Kevin Steele, who was introduced as Auburn’s defensive coordinator later in the day.
Then, Miles turned the podium over to Aranda, who gave some remarks before successfully handling questions from members of the Louisiana media.
But, this press conference would conclude in a rather unusual manner. LSU Director of Athletics Joe Alleva would have the final word.
The last time Alleva spoke to the media occurred following the end of the Tigers’ regular-season game against Texas A&M in Tiger Stadium.
Everyone recalls the scenario. Most people were expecting Miles to be dismissed as LSU coach on the heels of a three-loss Southeastern Conference season.
Representatives of LSU had contacted representatives of Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher about his interest in being the next Tigers coach. The discussions, which Alleva would call inquiries, were quite serious. However, this change was halted by LSU President/Chancellor F. King Alexander.
The perception of LSU raising more than $20 million from private sources to buy out the contracts of Miles and Fisher would not sit well at a time the school was asking to receive more money from the state of Louisiana. So, Alexander stopped in midstream the workings of Alleva.
On that last Saturday of November – just days after he was trying to replace Miles, Alleva told the media that he would remain as Tigers coach. Alleva’s ‘coup’ had failed.
Less than six weeks later, here was Alleva speaking as Miles’ biggest supporter. Alleva said that the ‘program was heading in the right direction.’ Alleva gave Miles the instruction to ‘get the best guy he could get’ as defensive coordinator.
Was this the same Joe Alleva? If it was the same Alleva, what happened to change his opinion of Miles?
Alleva had gone from wanting to dismiss Miles when the Tigers were 7-3 to saying that he liked the future of the program.
Alleva has exhibited a change in his view of the football program in other areas. John Chavis left LSU because Alleva would not guarantee the third year of his contract for the 2017 season. Steele signed a two-year, non-guaranteed contract for 2015-16.
Aranda’s contract is not completed, but there are reports that he will receive a three-year, guaranteed contract with a starting salary of $1.3 million. That’s a huge switch in direction by Alleva in a 13-month period.
It also seems contract extensions are in the works for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and secondary coach Corey Raymond. Alleva certainly appears to be giving Miles everything he wants in order to bring home some excellent results in 2016.
What took place in late November simply bought Miles another season. Miles’ seat is still warm, although not at as high a temperature as the one belonging to Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. A 4-4 SEC record in the upcoming season will again put Alleva in the situation where he must debate Miles’ future.
A decision will have to be made about Miles’ tenure after the 2016 campaign. Miles will have three seasons left on his contract at that time. LSU will then have to extend Miles to get his contract back out to five years or make a change.
Numerous LSU supporters have their doubts about having Alleva hire the next football coach. Maybe, the best scenario for everyone in the athletic department – including Alleva – would be for Miles to win ten games in 2016 and challenge Alabama for the SEC title.
Alleva could then extend Miles through the 2021 season. That deal for Miles would keep Alleva safe through his contract which runs for until July of 2020. Ironically, Alleva’s best-case situation now may include football success for Miles, the man he just attempted to fire.
Maybe, that’s why Alleva felt the necessity to give such a huge endorsement of Miles’ defensive coordinator hire and direction of the football program to wrap up Tuesday’s press conference.