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Friday, November 12, 2010

Consider Miles off the Coker trail

BATON ROUGE – I came up with it first. I will abort it first.

LSU coach Les Miles is no longer taking the road traveled by former Miami coach Larry Coker. After the landmark victory over Alabama and Coach Nick Saban last week, he is back on the Saban-Meyer Super Highway for now.

After five seasons at LSU, Miles and Coker’s career path was hauntingly similar.
Coker in 2001 inherited an elite, national championship-type program loaded with talent from NFL-bound Butch Davis and went 35-3 in his first three seasons with a 20-1 Big East record, a national championship and a national championship runner-up finish. Then he slipped to 18-6 overall and 11-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004 and 2005 despite continuing to recruit nearly as well as his predecessor. He fell to 6-6 in 2006 and was fired. He’s now coaching at Texas-San Antonio.

Miles in 2005 inherited an elite, national championship program loaded with talent from NFL-bound Nick Saban and went 34-6 in his first three seasons with a 19-5 Southeastern Conference record, a national championship and a SEC championship runner-up finish. Then he slipped to 17-9 overall and 8-8 in the SEC in 2008 and 2009 despite continuing to recruit nearly as well as his predecessor.

Miles has not fallen to 6-6 in 2010 and will not be fired – maybe ever from LSU.

Reset your clocks. Miles will not coach at Texas El Paso. He could have been 4-4 with some very scary wins over North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida, but that is moot now, unless you work for ESPN.

Miles is 9-1 and 5-1 in the SEC going into tonight’s six o’clock homecoming game against Louisiana-Monroe (4-5, 3-3 Sun Belt). Tonight’s game matches two of the four teams that have regular season victories over Saban and Alabama since Nov. 17, 2007, when Saban did something Miles will never do – lose to ULM. Auburn and South Carolina are the other two.

Miles is 2-2 against Saban. He is also 3-3 against Florida coach Urban Meyer. Saban and Meyer are the best two college football coaches in the country, and they are better than quite a few of those in the NFL as well. They’ve both slipped a bit this year, but they’ll come back. Just like Miles came back.

Now do not get all carried away as many of you did in 2007. Miles is neither a genius nor a moron. His failure to put one hand on top of the other and call a timeout at Ole Miss in 2009 did not erase his brilliant 5-for-5 fourth down run against Florida in 2007, just as his brilliant tight end reverse call against Alabama Saturday did not erase what he let happen at the end of the Tennessee game this season. Miles quite simply is up and down. He’s inconsistent. He’s still just 13-9 in the SEC since 2008. Saban is 20-2 over that span. Meyer is 19-4. And all three have equal talent. Don’t get carried away. I would not roll over that contract either. No one should have a buyout of double-figure millions. His should be no more than $4 or $5 million like so many others, period.

But do enjoy the ride. After all the negativity from media and fans as well as LSU athletic department and Board of Supervisors personnel - most of it very deserved - we have all almost missed a great season. We all realize now that this is a great team, and only three regular season games remain.

Miles is 60-16 overall at LSU and 32-14 in the SEC, and it looks like he has turned the corner well off the Coker path. And do not yet count him out of the BCS national championship race. He is one of the only coaches to win a national championship with two losses. Could he be one of the only coaches to get to a national championship game because a player was ruled ineligible?

The way this season is going, my money, my clock and my laptop are all on Miles – not Cam Newton.

After all the emotion and drama from last week, I am actually looking forward to tonight’s LSU-ULM game that will be refreshingly uneventful. Here are five things to look for:

1. A REPLAY OF THE LSU-BAMA GAME ON THE BIG SCREEN – That will keep everyone interested, including LSU’s players and coaches.

2. A REPLAY OF GEORGIA’S UPSET OF AUBURN ON THE OTHER BIG SCREEN – That will keep everyone interested, too, including LSU’s players and coaches.

3. A REPLAY OF ULM’S UPSET OF ALABAMA IN 2007 ON A SPLIT SCREEN – That will keep everyone from ULM interested.

4. MORE PASS PLAYS – The last thing LSU needs to do is to put its pass game away for a week so as to hide things from future opponents. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson played his best game of the season last week. He needs to stay hot. Come out firing. Run the ball in the second half.

5.LIVE COVERAGE OF MISSISSIPPI STATE AT ALABAMA ON THE OTHER SPLIT SCREEN – Kickoff is at 6:15 p.m. Saban has been so down since the LSU loss, he may lose again. But more importantly, LSU owes both schools. They turned in Newton.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally a decently written article on this blog. Good work, sir, and thankyou.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes this is quite amazing how Les Miles, after beating Alabama, has become OK again...I was so down on Les, that your ankles look up.
Now, I am as happy, as a bug in a rug.
Miles was right about Jefferson,and he simply out coached Nick..The fake punt,the fourth down, end around..,Jefferson passing,the LSU defense looking fast and strong...I hope the Tigers win out,but if they do not, I am still happy.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to give Les Miles some credit, for sticking with QB Jefferson,when a lot of LSU fans,simply did not like it.
Jefferson did very well in the Bama game, and only Les Miles willpower, was the reason Jefferson was playing.
Les Miles went from a bad head coach,to a pretty good head coach, all in one game.
If LSU wins out,and the stars line up again,(like in 2007),Les Miles will become a great head coach.

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tell you what.I am just glad, that the LSU football program, is a clean one.Look at what is going on with this Cam Newton mess,Florida,Miss State,Auburn,and now the head man, at the SEC, knew to.
Wow,the FBI has a lot of people to talk with.I am very glad, they(FBI) do not need to talk to LSU.I have never seen anything like this before.

3:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see all those happy faces,and hear all those happy voices.
Something very good took place in tiger stadium,Les Miles beat Nick Saban,and Alabama.

3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Miles has very good records vs. Meyer and Saban. He should have a better record against Nutt.
Newton will not be declared ineligible this year. The investigation will take much longer.
Yes, Jefferson should practice his passing vs. ULM.

3:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9-1,Ole Miss week...The way Ole Miss is playing LSU in tiger stadium look like another win..10-1.
Les Miles LSU fighting tigers are rolling now..Only Arkansas in Arkansas can stop the winning???
2010, is a very good season for LSU.

1:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But more importantly, LSU owes both schools. They turned in Newton."

What did Bama do? Or, is that a natural assumption? I'll go along with it, but I don't recall reading anything about Bama being involved in the Newton scandal.

4:57 AM  

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