We have been (professionally and brahsomely) enamored of Bret Bielema and Les Miles since 2006 and 2007, respectively, and the origins of what we would call these man-crushes if we possessed the proper plumbing can be traced to very specific events. Bielema captured our attention with that notoriously trollsome stunt he pulled against Penn State, wherein the Badgers ran out the clock on the first half with a newly acquired 10-3 lead by deliberately running offsides on two kickoffs, leaving the Nittany Lions no time with which to operate once a third was executed. (Wisconsin would go on to win, 13-3.) We have never lived in Big Ten country, but we have a casual favorite Big Ten school, and that is it, and that is why.
Miles, for his part, won our bloggy hearts with his now-legendary target="_blank">"Have a GREAT day" press conference, hastily assembled just prior to the '07 SEC Championship Game to dispel rumors he was lighting out for the Michigan job. He didn't go. We were sad about that. We had the best gameday sign that year, and also we did not like watching our football team lose to LSU a whole bunch. But we were Les Miles fans from that moment forward.
Nobody ever knows quite what to make of Les Miles. That's his Thing. He nibbles on stadium grass as a superstition. He dunks on his young daughter in promo videos. His myth-arc needs no elaboration. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that he said what he said about 2012 quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel throwing the Bayou Bengals over in favor of the Fighting Irish:
There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou State. He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program. Just so you know.
It's the last thing you might expect to hear from a coach operating in college football's loftiest environs; then again, Miles has made something of an industry of unwarranted ziggings and zaggings. (See also: LSU's gameplan in the recent national title debacle.) But while you can add our voice to the chorus of those thinking this statement is gross and unnecessary, and that LSU as a brand ought to be above this, it had to be raw red meat to a dispirited fanbase. Suitable or not, Kiel is gone. He will go on to success at Notre Dame, or he won't, and whether he sinks or swims has nothing to do with the Hatter. Although, to be perfectly fair, Miles would at this point know from unfit quarterbacks. He had the perfect cover for his statement, y'all!
No, it's Bielema who really disappointed us this week by crying foul over Urban Meyer's recruiting tactics. We have held him in the highest esteem since the Penn State stunt, which was pointed at an imbecilic new clock rule and made its point in simple, elegant fashion. We have also admired his commitment to putting any given scoreboard through its paces. We will forever hold that it is Badgers' opponents' task to keep Wisconsin's scoring in check, not Bielema's. Like Miles, he has his Thing, and this is it. But if you're going to fly the COME AT ME BRO banner, you can't ever let it touch the ground. You can't be the guy who runs up 83 on Indiana and then complains about the fairness of another coach's bag of tricks.
From Matt Hayes at Sporting News, who's been all over this thing: "[Bielema] says Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez will speak Friday with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany about Meyer’s recruiting methods during the league’s athletic director meetings in Chicago."
You mean this Barry Alvarez, who had this to say after the '06 Penn State game?
"It was a hell of a call!" said Alvarez, the school's athletic director who hired Bielema. "If Joe Paterno does that everyone says it's genius. There are rules. Good coaches take advantage of them."
The emphasis is ours, but you get the point. As we are so fond of repeating, this is football, not feelingsball, and it cracks us up in a sick way that the coach who would fit into the SEC better than any of his counterparts is crying foul. Most of all, though, we resent being put in the position of having to point and nod approvingly at a Meyer quote.
Yep, and you know what, I’ve got nine guys who better go do it again. Do it a little harder next time. Do it a little harder.
Up is down, down is sideways. Football gods help us, we are the tiniest bit fond of Urban Meyer right now. And that's the strangest feeling of all.