Maddening, eccentric, mocked -- Miles a coach in a league of his own
LSU has managed to start its season 5-0, but it's hard to blame Tigers fans for thinking this year is heading into the toilet. Just ask
"My friend and I sit in the game until the third quarter ended. Go back to the tailgate. Game ends, I go to the Port-a-Potty knowing we had lost. I step out of the Port-a-Potty and we had won. Must have been some kind of magical time-warp Port-a-Potty."
There's a magician at LSU, all right. His name is
I watched the final minutes of LSU-Tennessee with a pack of sportswriters huddled around a press-box television in Tuscaloosa. As the Tigers began intermittently moving down the field while trailing 14-10 in the final minutes, the inevitable Miles-related snickers poured forth.
"You watch," said one scribe. "He's going to pull it out."
The clock ticked. "He'll find a way to blow it," said another. On fourth-and-10 from the Vols' 39, LSU called timeout -- only to draw a delay of game penalty coming out of it.
"Are you kidding me, Les???" (That was me.)
But then quarterback
If you haven't yet seen the
Lessons learned, right? Wrong.
Against Tennessee, there again was a confused-looking Jefferson, trying frantically to get his team lined up on third-and-goal after LSU stunningly tried to sub in three new players, the clock ticking dangerously close to zero until
But wait -- suddenly, the official is on his headset. And now he's signaling something. Turns out, Dooley had out-Miles'd Miles, sending in his own subs to counter LSU's subs -- two too many, it turned out. What had seemed like The Mad Hatter's most flagrant clock-management breakdown yet had magically worked in his favor. Given new life, the Tigers ran another play, and won in the wildest finish this season.
Afterward, in classic Les fashion,
College football runs the full gamut of coaching personalities. It has its charmers (
He's eccentric. He's maddening. He's widely mocked. Some would say his most appropriate label is "lucky." He owns a BCS championship ring, a .789 winning percentage at LSU and a 5-0 record this season, yet most of the 93,000 celebrants at Tiger Stadium on Saturday still want his head on a platter.
Mind you, only one of the Tigers' five wins has come against a respected foe (West Virginia), and it's widely assumed Miles' offensively challenged team will get its comeuppance soon enough, most likely this weekend at No. 14 Florida. But don't be so sure.
For one thing, if you watched the Gators' 31-6 meltdown at Alabama on Saturday night, you know Florida has its own offensive issues (like its undying loyalty to the spread-option despite employing pro-style quarterback
The predictable endgame would be for LSU to lose three or four as it hits the meat of its conference schedule (which includes dates with Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas) and for Miles to beat it out of town before the masses get to him first. But that seems too predictable. More likely, he'll write an accidental script which keeps us scratching our heads -- and which, as my guy Rusty has learned, you can never turn away from.
It was hardly unexpected, but now-fourth-ranked Boise State fell victim to its first "poll jumper" this week. Oregon, with its primetime, 52-31 showcase win over ninth-ranked Stanford, leapfrogged Boise (which beat New Mexico State 59-0) to No. 3 in both the AP and coaches polls Sunday. It's exactly what I predicted would happen once the Broncos went back into hiding during its WAC schedule. But should it have?
If the Ducks run the table, no question, they'll have a far superior resume to the Broncos come December. As of today, however, Boise's schedule strength is 32nd on CollegeBCS.com (
Having said that, the Ducks' performance against Stanford absolutely solidified their status as a national-title contender. After committing two costly turnovers early that helped the Cardinal jump to a 21-3 lead, Oregon flat-out shredded a previously stout Stanford defense behind
"It ain't a statement win," Oregon coach
Clearly, poll voters are buying into it, which must be particularly galling to Broncos fans, seeing as their team beat the Ducks, on the field, in each of the past two seasons. To be clear, past results shouldn't affect this year's poll. But can I help it that the image of Boise's defense completely stifling Oregon's spread last year lingers in the back of my mind? Ultimately, a dominant defensive team usually trumps even the most powerful offense, and Boise's experienced defense has only gotten better (particularly against the run).
Perhaps the better poll question is, why didn't the Ducks jump over Ohio State, too, in light of the Buckeyes' sluggish 24-13 win at Illinois? (It was 17-13 with two minutes remaining.) Is it because voters subconsciously remember the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl win last year over Oregon? If so, they're practicing selective memory.
Nursing a 27-24 lead late in the game, quarterback
"We have always had tremendous leadership in this program," said Treadwell, 50, who first worked with Dantonio on
The 17th-ranked Spartans first gained notice with Dantonio's "Little Giants" fake field goal to beat Notre Dame, but Michigan State's offense is far from smoke and mirrors. Behind the tailback tandem of sophomore
Next up comes a milestone matchup with Michigan, also 5-0, as the Spartans will look to become the first team to rein in Wolverines star
Treadwell was happy to speak about the Wisconsin game and MSU's improved running game, but deftly deferred when asked about Michigan. "Coach D is our head man," he said. "I'll let him speak about our next opponent."
Each week, I'll update my projected BCS lineup (as necessary) based on the latest week's games.
I'm not making any rash changes to my title-game matchup just yet. As amazing as Oregon has looked, I still have my doubts the Ducks can run the table in what is, at worst, the nation's second-toughest conference this season.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 remains a mystery. I wanted to come away from the Red River Shootout enamored with Oklahoma, but it's hard to say how much was the Sooners' doing and how much was Texas' continued ineptitude. Despite a bevy of mistakes, the 'Horns still wound up outgaining the Sooners (373-360) and coming within a
One other note: I dumped Florida from the Sugar Bowl spot because I don't have faith in that team to drop fewer than two more games. Auburn or Arkansas may have a better shot at the SEC's second bid. I went with the Tigers for now.
• First, some requisite Denard Robinson adulation. With his 217-yard rushing, 277-yard passing day against Indiana, the sophomore joins
• I'm done defending embattled Georgia coach
• BYU coach
• Miami quarterback
• Harris is living the good life, however, compared to Texas A&M quarterback
• Or, perhaps Johnson will redeem himself like Washington's
• Now there's the
• Virginia Tech (3-2) continued its quiet return to respectability, rallying from an early 17-0 deficit to win at No. 23 N.C. State, 41-30. With star running back
• A week after its big win at Texas, UCLA looked in danger at one point of suffering an unthinkable loss to Washington State. It was 28-20, Cougs, late in the third quarter. But the Bruins won going away, 42-28, and, in doing so, racked up a staggering 437 yards on the ground. Tailbacks
• Northwestern quarterback
• Perhaps Iowa State (3-2) is ready to make a move in the Big 12 North? The Cyclones notched a nice upset Saturday, 52-38 over Texas Tech (
• This week in the miserable Big East: UConn, behind 190 yards from running back
• What's with the running back assembly line at Temple? With
• Prediction: In the increasingly deep and quarterback-heavy Pac-10, USC -- which currently ranks 116th in pass defense -- will finish no higher than seventh.
• Last Thursday's Oklahoma State game marked Texas A&M's first televised game this season. Tell me again why the school deserves that $20 million?
When the score scrolled across the ticker Saturday afternoon, I must say, I did a double take: "Baylor 55, Kansas 7." While we've known since Week 1 that the Jayhawks have their issues, it's not every day Baylor puts up 55 on a Big 12 opponent. In fact, it never had.
The Bears (4-1) rolled to a school-record 678 yards behind a career-high 380-yard passing day from quarterback
But Griffin is back, healthy and now, as a third-year sophomore, much more of a passer than runner. He's attempted at least 28 passes in every game while averaging a more modest 44 yards rushing.
"The hardest thing about [ACL] rehab is not really the rehab, it's coming back and everyone doubting you," Griffin told me Sunday. "I knew as soon as I stepped on the field in fall camp I was ready to be a quarterback again."
Griffin raised eyebrows after Saturday's game when he called the Bears' 45-10 loss to No. 5 TCU on Sept. 18 a "fluke." He emphasized Sunday that the Horned Frogs are a great team, but "that wasn't the Baylor team we are anymore. After three hard years working to make sure that doesn't happen, we want to show people we're not the same old Baylor. We want people to fear coming here."
The Bears probably aren't that far along yet, but it's certainly realistic to think they can pick up the two more conference victories necessary to become bowl eligible. Coach
"We had some great players when we first got here, but we needed some youth and some new energy to come in and push us over the edge," he said. "After three years of Coach Briles' recruiting, we have a lot of talent, a lot of speed and a greater sense of confidence. It's not a matter of getting to six wins and calling it quits. The sky's the limit."
Suffice to say, he's feeling pretty good about 55-7.