Les Miles, former Louisiana State University head football coach, was fired after losing to unranked SEC opponent, Auburn. Les Miles and his Tigers lost the game to Auburn in the last second with time running out. Miles held the longest coaching tenure in the SEC, a record of 114-34, and a National Championship. So why did the time run out on his coaching career at LSU? The answer: the culture of college football.
The problem with the culture of college football is that it revolves around the fans. This isn’t a bad problem. The fans are what drives the game, they give it life, excitement, and most importantly financial support. If the fans are not happy there is a cloud lingering over the football program.
Fans want to win consistently and when they do not they find someone to blame; the coach. It is his team and his responsibility to win.
Former assistant football coach at Peru State University, Jared Olive, understands that the culture dictates his job, “As a football program at the collegiate level you have to have a good culture; it drives the players and overall helps you win football games. It becomes a problem when you hit a wall and are not winning because then you lose your support. When you are losing, as a coach you always have to be looking behind your back. You are ultimately responsible for the success of the program and if you can’t win, the fans want you out. They want to win.”
It ultimately comes down to what the fans want, but sometimes the fans themselves don’t even know what they want.
The Tennessee Volunteers are an example, over the last decade they have had multiple head coaching changes and a disappointing season year after year. A survey conducted showed that out of 46 people overwhelmingly 95 percent of them believe that current Tennessee head coach, Butch Jones, has impacted the culture of the football program. Fans are supporting him hoping that this is the year they will havetheir chance at a National Championship.
University of Tennessee student, Anna Arnold has been a UT fan her whole life, “I have been a fan through the successful and unsuccessful times. This season is different though, you can feel the energy and excitement on campus, it has been a total change in culture, and I credit Coach Jones for that.”
During Tennessee’s game against Florida it appeared at halftime that the Volunteers were going to be defeated by the Gators. Fans were unhappy leaving the game early and taking to social media to express their disapproval of Jones. Jones however, however; was able turn his team and the atmosphere in the stadium around in the second half and was successful in pulling out a victory.The fans didn’t know what they wanted but they wanted to win and when they did the atmosphere was electric.
Former Mississippi State student, Samantha McCrabb, agrees that the electric culture and atmosphere can dictate the game. McCrabb was a student at Mississippi State in 2014 when the Bulldogs had their most successful season ever, “It was amazing you could feel the support and excitement for the team in the air around campus.”
Culture. That is what it all comes down to.
Written by Macy Marin