clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Les Miles made Florida-LSU weird. It’s somehow gotten even weirder without him

Since he left LSU, his signature rivalry series has added a controversially rescheduled game to its history.

LSU v Florida Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

It’s finally LSU-Florida week. For a while, it seemed like this game might not even be played. Hurricane Matthew was expected to batter the East Coast of Florida, which caused a postponement of the game originally slated for Oct. 8.

After a ton of back and forth between the two programs, the game was finally rescheduled for Nov. 19 in Baton Rogue.

So the game that always seems to be weird, competitive, and entertaining — nine of the last 11 games in this series were decided by an average of six points — is officially here, and the scheduling drama has made it even stranger.

When LSU announced in September that it was cutting ties with Les Miles, it felt like it was the right time. But this rivalry already feels different without Miles.

LSU-Florida is the strangest rivalry

Florida-LSU better deliver some Les Miles madness, even though he won't be on the sideline.

Posted by SB Nation College Football on Friday, November 18, 2016

2007: LSU converts five fourth downs

LSU came in ranked No. 1. The Gators had just one loss, a road one to Auburn, putting them at No. 9.

The story is one of a gambling Miles. With 2:16 left, trailing Florida 24-21, he was faced with a fourth-and-1 from Florida’s 6-yard line. The Mad Hatter went for it as Verne Lundquist quoted Bill Raftery’s “onions” line, as he did constantly in this game, and Jacob Hester barreled for the first down.

A Hester 2-yard touchdown on the same drive would seal a victory in the greatest game of LSU’s Miles era and keep LSU alive for an eventual national championship.

2010: The weirdest fake field goal ever

I witnessed this in person, and it’s easily the wackiest play I have ever seen. Florida entered at No. 14 with two losses, LSU undefeated and No. 12.

The Gators pulled within three with 3:21 left. On the next LSU drive, the Tigers managed to get to Florida’s 36, and then faced fourth-and-3.

The Tigers lined up to kick a field goal, but in classic Miles fashion, holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper, who picked up the bouncing ball and got the first down. Many in the crowd wondered if it was even legal.

The play was reviewed, and it stood. It was a legal lateral, and the Tigers had a first down. The successful conversion set up a 33-29 LSU victory.

Alligator Army still can’t believe it.

Florida deserved it for being caught napping in crunch time against a man known for his trickery. That's like taking your three year old daughter to the zoo and then being paralyzed with shock when she freaks out because she is deathly scared of lions. So shame on Florida for falling asleep ... but for the love of God, I still am not quite sure how this happened.

Helton blindly flung the ball over his head, where it bounced like a soccer ball, right into Jasper's arms, who easily beat the frozen Gators for the first down. We all know what a football looks like. How many times out of 100 do you think you can blindly throw a ball behind your head and have it bounce perfectly? Even the slightest hint of a wobble, and the ball tilts ever so slightly, and then bounces another way. That's just physics.

2013: Miles’ glorious “hammer and nail” rant

In 2012, Florida won a ground-and-pound, 14-6 victory in the trenches.

The following year, LSU won, 17-6, in Death Valley.

A reporter asked Miles about a contrast between the two games, how LSU had gone from being the nail to being the hammer. Let’s just say Miles didn’t like that.

I got a question for you. It was a 14-6 game. We played our ass off. And how anybody could pick a hammer and the nail, when in fact that hammer or that nail or whatever in the hell you’ve got picked ...

We catch a ball down there, we take the lead, we turn it over, I mean, explain to me how Kevin Minter, who sets damn near the career tackle record in that game, how anybody could ever say hammer and the nail?

Here’s what happens. Two very quality teams take the field and compete like a son of a bitch for victory. You know what? It’s not a hammer and a nail relationship. It’s an opportunity for an opponent to be equal, and to raise their level of play in such a fashion that they win. And that’s how this thing works, that in fact you respect the opponent, and he’s not the hammer, and he’s not the frickin’ nail, okay? He’s the opponent. You understand?

I’m just letting you know, I resent that. I resent the fact that suddenly, we were nailed. You got it? I mean honest to Pete’s. Shit, we’re a pretty good team last year. I thought we played like a son of a bitch in that statement. I felt differently than the nail, so you know.

2015 A fake field goal ... again!

Florida should have seen this coming, right?

In the fourth quarter, with 10 minutes left, LSU got deep into Florida territory. Facing a fourth-and-13 from Florida’s 16 yard line, LSU’s Trent Domingue lined up for a field goal. Domingue ran around the left end for a touchdown to take a 35-28 lead, which wound up being the final score.

Also, those times Les Miles pointed out it’s unfair the two have to play each other every year

Miles finished his career in Baton Rogue with a 7-4 record against the Gators (UF leads all-time, 31–28–3). But he was never thrilled about the SEC’s cross-division rivalries giving LSU a tougher schedule than most of its conference opponents.

"This is all based on some vague tradition that is not considering that you're adding teams to the conference," Miles said during SEC spring meetings in 2012. "Tell me about the tradition of the conference when you add teams to it.

"I mean, Florida isn't even a nearby state. This tradition of rivalry is the fact that we enjoy playing them."

And in 2013:

"It's interesting to see how you would compare our schedule with others," Miles said via Yahoo! Sports on the SEC coaches' post-spring teleconference. "I wonder if there should be no permanent partners. I wonder if we couldn't choose cross-division opponents through a random computer draw."

"I mean, Florida isn't even a nearby state. This tradition of rivalry is the fact that we enjoy playing them."

Steve Spurrier kind of agreed.

"If we want to be fair, we wouldn’t have permanent opponents," said Spurrier. "But nobody said it was supposed to be fair."

Without the now-former LSU head coach, the rivalry wouldn’t be half of what it is today, even though it only got odder right after he left (and even though interim coach Ed Orgeron always might have tricks up his sleeve). That is something to take pride in.