In the wake of Les Miles, LSU must consider where it came from.
That takes us back to 2000 when Nick Saban arrived attempting to revive what had been mostly a mediocre program. That season, it had been 14 years since the Tigers' last SEC title, 42 years since their only national championship.
From 1959-99, LSU averaged less than seven wins. It was that kind of mediocre. Saban stayed five years, changed the entire culture, delivered a national championship and moved on.
That's where Miles' greatest contribution comes in. He kept it going. He took the momentum started by Saban and helped LSU maintain its elite program status.
You already know about the 2007 national championship and at least a share of three SEC titles under Les. In case you missed it, LSU remains in the midst of its greatest run of success in its history.
Only Steve Spurrier, Phil Fulmer and Bear Bryant (12) have more consecutive eight-win seasons among SEC coaches than Miles (11). Only Boise State (17) has more consecutive eight-win seasons than LSU (16).
Those aren't just numbers. They represent a standard.
A standard the new guy not only must meet but surpass. That's because LSU has to get someone better than Les Miles. And Les Miles was pretty damn good.
Improvement isn't automatic because of the standard set by Les. The man won 77 percent of his games landed nine top-10 recruiting classes.
Signing a four-star quarterback doesn't necessarily solve things. LSU already has that with Brandon Harris sitting on the bench.
While Harris' developmental issues are a large reason Miles is unemployed, it's a reminder of how tenuous things are at LSU. It wasn't until Saban flipped the program's history, and Miles picked up the torch, that the historically mediocre program took the next step.
This LSU coaching search has the feel of an annual sales meeting. The last 11 years were great, but now there is a new, higher quota. Always be closing, fellas.
The new guy comes into the SEC freakin' West with Alabama at the top of its game. Improvement isn't automatic with Jimbo Fisher. Improvement isn't automatic with Tom Herman. Not with anyone else you want to name.
Whoever it is they have to be better. Better means beating Bama on a regular basis. Better means playing for SEC titles. All the things Les used to do, the new guy has to do better.
In that sense, is it possible LSU has peaked? Don't look at the current situation as simply Les getting stale. The last 17 years have been the best in LSU history. Saban and Miles both own that era.
Is that as good as it gets? In case you haven't noticed, Saban continues to rule from on high at the peak of his powers. The Mississippi schools are able to rise up at any given moment. Florida, Tennessee and Georgia are rebounding.
You see, it's not just winning individual games. It's beating everyone else, every day, in everything. That recruiting fence Saban threw up around the state isn't going to stay fortified forever.
There are a handful of jobs in the country where the staff wakes up every morning saying, "We can be the best no matter what anyone else does."
LSU is not one of those programs. It wakes up every day trying to figure out how to beat Alabama. It hasn't since 2011. That is a main reason Miles was let go.
Who remembers that we're also in the middle of LSU's greatest run of success against the Tide? Saban and Miles are a combined 9-8 against Alabama the last 17 meetings.
Not many remember that today, in large part because Bama's five-game winning streak in the series is the longest for either team since 1981.
LSU is an elite program but not the most elite even in its own division. Auburn has the same issue. That's why Saturday's clash with LSU was nicknamed the "Hot Seat Bowl."
Miles lost, but it just as well could have been Gus Malzahn.
It may be that what you currently see of LSU is the best it's going to get. It's fantastic. It's historic. It's just not good enough to surpass the standard Miles has left behind.
I get that Fisher probably knows the LSU and the SEC better than the league commissioner. I get that, if Herman can win 13 at Houston, he should be able to kill it in Baton Rouge. Bobby Petrino is a brilliant coach. Picture Lamar Jackson -- or someone like him -- in the purple and gold.
Interim coach Ed Orgeron intends to change the offense in a week and change the mindset even quicker. Without saying it Monday, Coach O said it during his introductory press conference: "You can expect a new style of offense," he said. "... We are going to tweak things around."
Orgeron later added: "Without giving out the scouting report to our next opponent, we're going to spread the ball out a little bit."
Les got stale? Maybe, but that's not going to be an excuse if the next coach starts 2-2 next year.
These last 17 years, LSU has never been better. Miles' replacement is absolutely going to have to be better.