Joe College: Is There A More Overrated Coach Than LSU's Les Miles?
How’s that saying go? Less is more, right? Well, that’s the case with LSU head football coach Les Miles. The guy does less and makes more mistakes than any other coach in the country and yet, he comes away with win after win in the SEC. When will his luck run out?
The Tigers’ 33-29 victory over Florida Saturday night is just more proof to the theory of Les Miles- when did he sell his soul to the devil to get this lucky?
You can say that every move Miles made late in that game against the Gators worked, but I’m sorry, it’s not that cut and dry. Look back at his decision making, or lack thereof, in recent big games and I dare you to make a strong case for Les Miles as one of the best coaches in college football.
In 2007 LSU won its second BCS national championship in five years. But if you remember, there was an incredibly lucky win at home against Auburn that kept the Tigers in the national title picture.
With ten seconds remaining in a one point game, Les Miles had QB Matt Flynn throw deep to the end zone and the ball was caught for an LSU touchdown. Smart or lucky? Lucky.
The Tigers were in field goal range and had one timeout remaining in a 24-23 game. And yet, Miles decided to throw a deep ball that took time and forced the clock to expire. Yes, it worked, but that doesn’t mean it was a good decision from a coaching standpoint.
In 2009, we all remember the epic fail Les Miles had on the road at Ole Miss. Trailing 25-23 with 32 seconds left LSU ran a screen play from the 40 yard line that went for a 5 yard loss. Then, Miles decided to let the clock roll all the way down to nine seconds before finally calling his final timeout.
After a deep heave was completed down to the ten yard line there was only one second left in the game. Instead of sending out his field goal team for a chip-shot game winner, Miles decided to get extra tricky and call no play and have QB Jordan Jefferson spike the ball. Genius!
I don’t think Miles was a math major in college, but it’s pretty self-explanatory that spiking the ball takes a minimum of one second. The clock hit 0:00 and the Rebels pulled off the upset.
The worst part about the loss was that Miles looked completely confused and downright bewildered by how it ended. As Austin Powers would say, “Time management isn’t Les Miles’ bag, baby.”
Just last week against Tennessee Miles showed us all another example of his struggle with managing the clock.
On 2nd and goal from the two yard line with the Tigers trailing 14-10 and just 32 seconds left, Jordan Jefferson ran right and was stuffed and the one.
With no timeouts, LSU needed to hurry to the line and either run another play or spike the ball. Instead, Miles let the clock wind down, sent in three substitutes, had no play called, and finally the result was a poor shotgun snap with two seconds left and the clock hit triple zeroes.
Yes, in the end LSU officially won the game because the final down was replayed due to an even dumber coaching job by Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley having 13 players on the field. But I refuse to let you tell me with a straight face that LSU deserved to win that game, or that Les Miles is not a complete buffoon.
That brings us to last Saturday night at Florida. Behind 29-26 with more than one minute left in the 4th quarter, LSU was stopped on third down putting them in a fourth and long situation.
The clock began to tick down and continued to do so before Les Miles finally decided to send his field goal team out for a 50 yard attempt. Then, Miles calls his final timeout because the play clock was about to expire. As tennis legend John McEnroe would say, “You cannot be serious?!”
After the timeout, the Tigers proceeded to run a terribly executed fake field goal. But, of course, when you’re Les Miles and you’ve sold your soul to the devil himself for luck and wins, things just seem to go right.
The holder blindly flipped the ball behind his head, a play we’ve seen before from the mind of the supposed “Mad Hatter.” It was a very poor flip and bounced a yard in front of the sprinting place kicker, but just so happened to take an immaculate hop and jump into the waiting hands of said LSU kicker.
And that’s not all! The play was reviewed to see if the holder’s flip was actually a forward pass. If it had been, the play would have been overturned and the Gators would have won.
But, after taking multiple looks at the toss, it was literally thrown in an exact straight line behind his head, reminiscent of The Music City Miracle when the Titans defeated the Buffalo Bills in 1999.
He then ran for the first down and LSU went on to win the game 33-29 in the final seconds.
Now, some of the blame for the loss has to be put on Florida head coach Urban Meyer. How can you not expect that fake field goal?
Meyer is a great coach. His reputation speaks for itself. But, I was watching this game in a bar Saturday night and every single person in there, drunk or not, was screaming, “It’s going to be a fake!” There was no way he was going to attempt that 50 yarder.
As the fellas on Sunday NFL Countdown like to say, “C’mon man!”
If you didn’t get a chance to see this game then you would think I was making this stuff up. Trust me, I wish I was.
The LSU Tigers remain undefeated at 6-0, but it is not because of the great mind and leadership of its head coach Les Miles. In fact, the Tigers are unbeaten in 2010 in spite of Les Miles and his poor decisions.
In LSU’s next win that comes in the final seconds, I would love for the reporter to ask Les Miles what everyone is really thinking, “So coach, you’re basically the worst at your job in college football, yet came away with another victory tonight. Your thoughts…”
In the end, you can’t ignore the fact that LSU wins ball games and Les Miles finds a way to make it happen. But just because something works doesn’t mean it’s a smart decision.
I challenge anyone to look me in the eye and tell me you would honestly want Les Miles at the helm if he was coaching your team in a tight game situation.
He’s been described as “crazy like a fox” with his aggressive play calls and the way he has the Tigers living on the edge.
But let’s be honest folks, he’s not cunning. He’s dumb. And his dumb luck will run out soon enough.
-Joey Lance- “Joe College” Blog
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)