HOOVER, Ala. - LSU has finished in the top half of the SEC West Division every year since 2000, when Nick Saban began his five-year run as coach in Baton Rouge.
That will not continue this season according to the league's media predictions released Friday, which pegged LSU fourth in the West behind Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn. The Tigers were picked to win the overall league title as recently as three years ago, when they went on to claim the SEC and their second national championship in five seasons.
"We've just got to go out there and get our respect back," junior cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "Obviously it seems like no one respects us right now, but that should just give us more fight and desire to go out there and win games."
Coach Les Miles is 51-15 entering his sixth season at LSU, but he's only 8-8 in league games the past two years. His contract was not rolled over after he went 8-5 in 2008 and 9-4 last season.
"I didn't really seek that role," Miles said. "My view, very honestly, has been to coach and prepare my team for victory. I'm very fortunate to have a good contract, and I don't think that's the issue. I think the issue is preparing my football team."
Finishing fourth in the West would certainly be troubling for Miles, who often is viewed at the top of the league's "hot seat" list.
"I'm starting to hear a little of that now, but it doesn't bug me," middle linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. "I've been criticized in my career. You just have to take that stuff and roll with it."
Said Patterson: "Coach Miles is a great coach, and we all have that confidence in him. As a team and as a player, we have to play better football."