A lot of Big Ten fans, particularly fans from institutions that have an immense amount of winning tradition like Michigan and Ohio State, really don't care very much for the Southeastern Conference -- not its schools, teams, and, especially, not its coaches.
Being a fan of the winningest college football program in the history of the sport, I used to be a part of that majority. Over the past five years, I have hated the SEC, especially Alabama, Florida, and LSU. It got so bad to the point that in the 2008 national championship game between Ohio State and LSU, I was actually cheering for Jim Tressel.
I never cheer for Jim Tressel.
Personally, I didn't think that LSU deserved to be in that game with two regular-season losses in the first place. Part of my frustration back then was rooted in my belief that Les Miles should have been the one to replace Lloyd Carr after he had retired in 2007.
When I cooled down and took a few steps back to look at Miles, however, I had a change of heart. During his playing career, Miles was an offensive lineman for Michigan, a two-year letterman who played under legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler back in the mid-1970s. So I asked myself, "Wouldn't Bo be proud of Miles?"
I know a lot of Big Ten fans won't like hearing this (again), but Miles coaches in the SEC, by far the toughest, most elite conference in college football. In terms of competition, no other conference can touch the SEC. Miles is not only surviving in this environment, but thriving. He has built LSU into a national contender that can challenge the best teams in the country like Alabama and Florida, winning two conference championships from 2007 and 2011, and a national championship in 2007.
And look at the way he's done it. People normally had associated Les Miles with trick plays and unconventional techniques. When you examine his teams at LSU, however, what you really see are teams that emulate the same things he did under Bo at Michigan: play strong defense, run the football, prominently feature tight ends and fullbacks.
Whether he's coaching in the Big Ten or coaching LSU in the SEC shouldn't matter. If Bo would be proud of Les Miles' coaching career, the rest of Michigan fans should be, too.
Information was taken from the following sources: ESPN.com, mgoblue.com, and NCAA.com
Aaron David Harris is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He also covered sports in Michigan for four years at The Battle Creek Enquirer (in Battle Creek, MI). Visit him at www.aarondavidharris.com.