Goodbye, Les Miles. I know I’ll miss you…and you will, too. Even if you don’t want to admit it right now.
Last Sunday, after the LSU Tigers lost 18-13 down on The Plains against Auburn, Miles was let go as head coach, bringing down the curtain on 11-plus seasons of madness, greatness and, in some cases, lack of clock awareness in Baton Rouge.
I’m going to miss you, Mad Hatter.
I’m going to miss you, grass eater.
I’m going to miss you, you national championship-winning head coach.
Most of all, the biggest lament of mine is that we’re continuing to see the number of head coaches who have colorful personalities to go along with their Xs and Os acumen dwindle across the sports world – not in college football. In the race to get the coaches and managers who embrace sabermetrics, analytics and spread offenses across the major sports, we’re losing the leading men who won games and made you laugh – and scratch your head – in press conferences afterward.
Miles was all that, and more. The memory of him holding a news conference right before the 2007 BCS National Championship Game to shoot down Kirk Herbstreit’s reports of Les heading to Michigan after Lloyd Carr’s retirement was priceless. “HAVE A GREAT DAY!,” was how he ended the press conference, in his own inimitable style. A few days later, his Tigers walloped Ohio State and won the national title.
He also was the coach who took bullets for his players probably better than any coach of a major college team. Over and over, his Tigers – and Les Miles himself – had issues with clock management. Only Miles’s teams could have that problem in games that they ended up losing AND winning.
And who can forget this?!? I’m getting chills just seeing these plays over and over. They’re mad. They’re insane. They’re heart-stopping.
They’re classic Les Miles. I’m going to miss him on the sidelines.
Others won’t. For those LSU supporters who wished that the Tigers’ offense was more dynamic, I hear you. I heard those who had clamored to have some sort of consistency with quarterback play in Baton Rouge. You feel like your pro-style offense, compared to the Oregons and Baylors and Houstons of the world, could be described as atavistic on a good day. But also hear this: he was 114-34 in Baton Rouge, won two SEC Championships, a national championship and was the best head coach your football program has ever had (my commiserations to Charles McClendon). You might be happy that a new era awaits one of the best football programs in the United States. I wish you all the best. I really do.
But success on the gridiron in Baton Rouge will never be accomplished in the style that Les Miles did it. Even though Les will most certainly resurface at another program, I’ll miss that white hat with the purple letters “L-S-U” emblazoned on the front. You were “must-see-TV” as a coach, and we may not see that again in the FBS level anytime soon.
He did it his way, and that is what eventually got him fired. He did it his way, and it was a roller coaster I wouldn’t mind getting on over and over again. Yes, it’s easier to say the latter as a neutral observer than as a booster or LSU supporter. Les’s polarizing character was actually what made people attracted to him the most; an oxymoron that made people like him, Steve Spurrier, and others of his ilk revered on the sidelines.
And missed. Goodbye, Les. I think I might chomp on a blade of grass for you as a small tribute of my appreciation.
Do you think the other members of the A Lot of Sports Talk College Football Poll panel will chow down on some grass with me? Probably not! As always, the panel consists of journalists, former college football players and coaches as well as knowledgeable fans who continually have a finger on the pulse of college football. For this week’s poll, our qualified quintet remains the same: Evie Van Pelt (managing editor at The Rebel Walk Magazine), Basil Mitchell (former TCU and Green Bay Packers RB), Sandy Weintraub (super fan, Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards at the University of Oregon), Nick Mancuso (patent attorney who attended USC as an undergrad and Oregon for law school) and, yours truly, Adesina Koiki (Football Writers Association of America member/voter, A Lot Of Sports Talk editor-in-chief).
Here is ALOST‘s 2016 College Football Top 25 for Week 5. If you have any comments and/or complaints, write them below on the Facebook window or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
I think the talent gap between the Tide and the Buckeyes is significant over everybody else, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. …(Sandy Weintraub, cont.)
… It doesn’t mean that neither will lose, but I believe they are both the odds-on favorites to face each other in the championship game.
We’ve already seen the Cardinals impress mightily on a primetime stage (Syracuse). We’ve also seen them impress mightily in a marquee matchup (Florida State). Now it’s time to see if Louisville can duplicate their high-flying feats in a marquee road game (Clemson). If so, then Death Valley might give serious life to a debate about which team should be No. 1. (Adesina Koiki)
Deshaun Watson said earlier this month that he’s putting too much pressure on himself and that might be affecting his play on the field so far in 2016. As much as Saturday night’s game will be pressure-packed, it might be best for Watson to play loose and have fun. (Adesina)
How good has Michigan’s offense been this year? The Wolverines have scored at least 40 points in their first four games, the first time that’s happened to start a season in Ann Arbor since 1947. (Adesina)
The only team to defeat the Cougars last season was Connecticut. That game was in East Hartford. They meet on Thursday night in Houston. I’m guessing the Cougs will have revenge on their minds. (Adesina)
This is a tough, experienced team with a great leader in Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinal will continue to be my sleeper for the title until proven otherwise. (Sandy)
Wins over LSU (neutral-ish site) and Michigan State (road) already? Don’t sleep on the Badgers, even as they go into the Big House on Satuday. (Adesina)
After a convincing 45-24 win over Arkansas, A&M heads to South Carolina and looks to open up a season 5-0 for a third year running. The Aggies, a 17.5-point favorite over the Gamecocks, have won every SEC road game in which they’ve been favored since joining the conference (6-0). (Evie Van Pelt)
U-Dub was lucky to get out of the desert undefeated after its overtime win over Arizona. Two gigantic weeks in a row for Chris Petersen and the Huskies are ahead: Stanford this Friday and then their old nemesis in the Oregon Ducks – who’ve won 12 straight against the Huskies – at Autzen. (Sandy)
The Vols came back from 21 points down to defeat the Gators, ending an 11-year losing streak to Florida. There’s no time to celebrate, however, as the Vols travel to Georgia to play the Bulldogs. Tennessee’s job could be made easier by the news that Georgia may be without Nick Chubb, who is questionable for the game following an ankle injury against Ole Miss. (Evie)
On a weekend where three match-ups of Top 10 teams will dominate the headlines, the Seminoles’ contest at Doak Campbell against a very good North Carolina team should not be ignored. I’m predicting the game will come down to the final one or two plays. (Adesina)
Because of the lack of meat on the Bears’ non-conference bone, Baylor has no choice but to run the table to have a shot at the College Football Playoff – and even that might not be enough. (Adesina)
The Huskers’ next three games (vs. Illinois, at Indiana, vs. Purdue) should be just tune-ups before their massive back-to-back road trips to Madison and Columbus. (Adesina)
I’m torn between whether I should believe this Utah team is flying under the radar or whether it is getting ready to be exposed very soon. I’m leaning towards the former, but their game in Berkeley on Saturday will tell me a lot. (Adesina)
Though the Hurricanes are 3-0, they begin a brutal six-game stretch on Saturday at Georgia Tech. After that, it’s Florida State (home), North Carolina (home), Virginia Tech (away), Notre Dame (away) and Pittsburgh (home). They’ll emerge from that stretch as either ACC Coastal favorites or fighting just to get bowl eligible in November. (Adesina)
Hugh Freeze-coached teams have historically been very good at bouncing back from a loss, and Ole Miss’s convincing 45-14 win over Georgia after its close home loss to Alabama the week before was no exception. Chad Kelly has thrown for at least one touchdown in a school-record 17 straight games, and his 55-yard TD pass to DaMarkus Lodge last weekend was the QB’s seventh game in which he has had a touchdown throw of 50+ yards. The Rebels face Memphis in a Homecoming game this Saturday. Look for Ole Miss to dominate this one from start to finish. (Evie)
Razorbacks QB Austin Allen has an active streak of 102 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception, which is the seventh-longest active streak in FBS. Although the Hogs lost 45-24 to A&M last weekend, most of the game was closer than the score indicated. Arkansas squandered too many good chances as they lost three fumbles, including one just short of the end zone. Ultimately, the Razorbacks’ defense had no answer for Aggie QB Trevor Knight, who finished with 159 yards rushing and 225 yards passing. The Razorbacks play Alcorn State this Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. (Evie)
If you get a chance, please tune in to watch running back Donnel Pumphrey perform before his career ends. You won’t be disappointed. (Adesina)
To be honest, I did expect Wisconsin to win last Saturday in East Lansing. Had no idea it was going to be a butt whipping, though. A road trip to Bloomington to take on Indiana has acted as a glorified bye week for many a year in the Midwest, but the Hoosiers should not be taken lightly. (Adesina)
After a heartbreaking loss to Tennessee in which the Gators held a 21-point lead, Jim McElwain’s bunch will look to rebound on the road against a 2-2 Vanderbilt team. Florida has won its last 12 road games in the series with the Commodores as well as 24 of the last 25 between the two. Vandy is coming off a 31-30 overtime win against Western Kentucky, but this one should be all Gators. (Evie)
We all know the Bison defeated then No. 13 Iowa a couple of weeks back, but did you know that NDSU has beaten two other ranked teams already this season? Using the FCS rankings, the Bison have also defeated then-No. 7 Charleston Southern and then-No. 8 Eastern Washington, with the latter owning a road win over Washington State earlier this season. The road doesn’t get any easier as NDSU plays FCS No. 18 Illinois State this weekend. (Adesina)
Last October, a nationally-ranked Boise State team was throttled on the road by Utah State, going down 45-10 at halftime before losing 52-26. They meet again on Saturday, this time in Boise. For one day, revenge may very well be a dish best served on blue field turf! (Adesina)
Last Saturday against Ole Miss, Georgia suffered its largest margin of defeat in an SEC game since 2011. The Bulldogs need to come out and make a statement against the Vols, but in order to do so, Georgia’s receivers will need to hang on to freshman QB Jacob Eason’s throws. Thus far this season, the Bulldogs’ wide receivers corps has dropped nine of Eason’s passes—tying Eason for the fifth-most drops for a QB in a Power 5 conference this season. (Evie)
The Horned Frogs have slipped under the radar after their OT loss to Arkansas. Even worse, a win at home over Oklahoma this Saturday may not come with the same “wow” factor as in years past, given the Sooners’ disappointing start to this season. (Adesina)
Others receiving votes:
Texas (12 points), North Carolina (7), West Virginia (7), Arizona State (4), Oklahoma (3), UCLA (2)
* – To break ties, we used a three-step criteria; 1) higher number of first-place votes, 2) higher number of ballots (out of six) the teams appeared in, 3) highest single ranking by an individual pollster (e.g. if Team A and Team B are tied cumulatively and appeared in all six polls, but Team A’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 7 and Team B’s highest ranking by an individual pollster was No. 9, Team A wins tiebreaker)
[Cover photo (Christian McCaffrey) courtesy of Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images]