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In 2 months, Les Miles went from basically fired to signing one of LSU's best classes ever

How does a coach celebrate barely keeping his job? By going and signing an amazing recruiting class, of course.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

On Nov. 27, 2015, things looked pretty bleak for Les Miles. LSU was in the midst of a three-game losing streak that turned a 7-0 start into 7-3. Yearly grousing about his inability to win (another) national championship had crescendoed to a furious roar, and it really felt like this was the end of the line for Les.

Then Nov. 28 happened.

LSU stopped its losing streak by beating Texas A&M 19-7 at home. The game wasn't particularly good, but that doesn't matter. Tiger fans, some of whom had probably been calling for Miles' ouster just hours previous, spent the day celebrating him.

Add this together with reports that Jimbo Fisher, LSU boosters' top pick to replace Miles, was staying at Florida State, and suddenly the foregone conclusion of Miles' departure from Baton Rouge was no longer such a foregone conclusion.

Shortly after the game ended, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said that Miles would be staying.

It was an incredible moment for Miles, who had accrued a lot of goodwill with fans across the country by being an affable goofball who occasionally spoke in tongues and ate grass, all while winning a lot of football games. But even before the good feelings surrounding his victory over a booster coup d'etat could fade, it was pretty apparent that Miles would be heading straight back onto the hot seat, and his tenure in Baton Rouge may not be extended by much longer. There were still a lot of questions around the program, and those tend to have a negative impact on recruiting.

Well, uhhh, about that.

Rather than stumble, LSU's recruiting kept right on humming. The Tigers landed the No. 3 class in 2016, according to the 247Sports Composite, and until Signing Day they were still in play to snap Alabama's now-six-year streak with the country's top class. The Tigers may have fallen short in that regard, but it's hard look at their class and be anything other than impressed.

LSU maintained its status in the upper echelon of college football recruiting by damn near building an actual fence around the state of Louisiana, keeping a huge crop of in-state talent at home. Of the top 10 recruits in the state according to the 247 Composite, LSU signed nine -- nine -- including a pair of five-stars in cornerback Kristian Fulton and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence.

If that isn't convincing enough, this map shows every four and five-star recruit in the state of Louisiana in this cycle, and where they ended up.

The Tigers dominated from state line to state line. Even in New Orleans, easily the most concentrated area of talent and thus the most hotly contested by other teams, LSU signed more blue chips (six) than all other programs in the country combined (five).

That's nothing new for LSU, which has signed a top-10 class in nine of Miles' 12 years with the school. But even though the Tigers have had higher-ranking classes (No. 2 in 2014, No. 1 in 2009), the fact that Miles was able to do this following that kind of job pressure is nothing short of incredible.

Things didn't go perfectly for the Tigers, though. Four-star cornerback Trayvon Mullen opted to sign with Clemson, and four-star linebacker Erick Fowler flipped from LSU to Texas. Both of them would've made excellent additions to the LSU defense, but it's hard to say their decisions to play elsewhere were too damaging. This is big-time college football recruiting. These things happen.

This is not the type of class signed by a coach who was reportedly hours away from being fired. It just doesn't happen. Negative recruiting tactics at college football's highest level are brutal, but Miles and LSU powered through and landed a monster class. If anyone was going to be able to pull off a feat such as this, though, it was Miles. This was a bounce-pass fake field goal for a touchdown-level maneuver, and Les is just about the only one who can bend space-time enough to get the job done.


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