Miles competent and lucky as LSU goes to No. 1
As the seconds ticked off the clock in LSU’s win at West Virginia, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer joined Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit in the ABC television booth.
Eventually the conversation got around to Meyer’s games at Florida against LSU. Meyer blurted out his record against the Tigers: Three wins and three losses.
Meyer was quick to mention that in 2007, the Tigers were 5-for-5 on fourth down. LSU rallied with 14 fourth-quarter points to beat the Gators 28-24.
The conversation then turned to LSU’s 2010 win at Florida. Herbstreit referenced the lucky bounce of the ball on the fake field goal run by kicker Josh Jasper that kept the winning drive alive.
What I got from the conversation was this: Les Miles is a pretty good football coach, and he’s very lucky.
Miles has his well-documented faults. Clock management is chief among them. But he has done many things correctly.
One is hiring outstanding coordinators. When Miles took the LSU job, he retained Jimbo Fisher (future head coach at Florida State) as his offensive coordinator. When Fisher departed, he hired a former college head coach and NFL offensive coordinator (BYU and Chicago Bears) Gary Crowton.
When Crowton left for Maryland, he hired former college head coach (Tulsa and Louisville) Steve Kragthorpe.
In 2005, Miles hired Bo Pelini (current head coach at Nebraska) as his defensive coordinator. In 2009, Miles brought in longtime Tennessee coordinator John Chavis to run his defense.
If you have watched any LSU football in September, you can see that Miles has once again recruited very well. On occasion, you will see a talented Louisianian on someone else’s roster, like running back Eddie Lacy at Alabama or wide receiver Trovon Reed at Auburn.
But, in most instances, Miles has won the battle for Louisiana’s best high school football players.
In six-plus seasons, Miles has lost 15 SEC games. Eight of those came in 2008 and 2009 when he was forced to rush quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee onto the field.
Les Miles will continue to do things that confound us. As he walked to the podium for his postgame press conference after the win over Northwestern State, he was clearly pleased when told that Michigan had taken a lead late in the game at Notre Dame.
There’s nothing wrong with cheering for your alma mater, but when you are the coach at LSU, your love of another school is something that should provide private joy.
Les will always do things differently. But lost in all the chatter about his eating grass and his image as the Mad Hatter is a simple fact. Les Miles knows what wins in the SEC. That is this – outstanding talent that is well coached.
Because of that understanding, Miles’ Tigers were, on Sept. 25, the No. 1 team in the nation.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarion herald.org.