LSU undoubtedly has regrets about the way the Les Miles situation was handled over the last several weeks. Had it not been for an obvious leak when the athletic department was mulling over Miles’ future, a good portion of the media storm could have been avoided.
LSU officials know where that leak came from.
In a public records request, WVUE in New Orleans obtained roughly 2,000 emails that shed some light on how LSU officials decided Miles’ future. The questions began when a report on Nov. 17 stated that Miles would be coaching for his job against Ole Miss and Texas A&M. A later report claimed LSU made the decision to keep Miles during the 3rd quarter of the Texas A&M game.
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva sent an email to board member Blake Chatelain on Nov. 29 addressing the reports.
“Leak. I know where,” Alleva wrote. “I told you on phone.”
Chatelain expressed frustration in his response.
“That leak has caused problems thorough out this ordeal,” he wrote. “Put us all in tight spots. Would not do anything about it. Just be careful. Will discuss in person when we can.”
The emails also showed that LSU board members disagreed with how the Miles situation was handled. On the morning of the Texas A&M game, board member Stanley Jacobs told USA Today that “Les Miles is our coach” and wished him well. That didn’t sit well with some other board members.
“Stanley felt compelled to do his own press release on behalf of the board,” LSU System president King Alexander wrote in an email.
“I agree…not cool,” board member Ann Duplessis replied.
LSU ultimately decided to keep Miles, and some emails indicate that the decision was made before the Texas A&M game, as LSU’s sports information department sent a draft of a press release to Alleva five hours before the game announcing that Miles would keep his job.
Chatelain later emailed several board members to stress how future coaching decisions need to be handled differently.
“The lesson learned here is how rapid and vicious the 24 hour news cycle and the social media impact is on matters like this,” he wrote. “We can learn from this and be better prepared in future. I will say , that most of the feedback I have received from fans sounds like this ‘it was probably the right decision to keep Les’ – but I sure hope he was given the message that the program has problems that need addressing This my friends was one of the most fluid, complex, confusing situations I have ever seen [sic].”
Without leaks, LSU could have stressed to Miles privately that he needs to agree to some changes or look for work elsewhere. The fact that so many stories leaked (here’s another detailed one) turned the situation into a mess.